University of California-Irvine’s varsity esports team is getting star treatment. Its training leading up to the League of Legends College Championship game two weeks ago was covered by ESPN2 in a new documentary.
Called “Good Game: UC Irvine,” the initial installments of the four-part documentary series aired last month with UCI hosting a watch party at its student center.
It marked the first time a traditional sports network aired a multipart documentary for collegiate esports, according to ESPN and UCI.
The first three episodes are now available through the ESPN app with the final episode in production and slated to air at a future date.
Developed by sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein, film crews followed UCI’s team through their normal campus activities from studying for tests to practicing for the big game as the defending collegiate champions, as well as showing viewers their dorms and family homes.
“We opened the door to the ESPN2 producers to provide a complete, unvarnished view of the lives of elite level collegiate gamers,” said Mark Deppe, director of UCI Esports.
The series also spotlighted UCI’s League of Legends program, and looked to highlight the similarities between traditional athletes and esports competitors.
Topics such as mental health and issues around online harassment and misogyny were also explored.
“These gamers aren’t just scrimmaging a ton and playing hours on end of solo queue, but they also have minimum GPAs to maintain and want to be a part of the campus community,” Bernstein said in an interview with Blog of Legends.
She added the university is also known for its computer game science program—researching the impact of gaming on the body and brain, which made UCI’s team even more of a compelling profile subject.
Spoiler: UCI’s esports team wasn’t able to win the championship for a second consecutive year.
The college championship includes more than 350 universities competing for a million dollars in scholarship money from the game’s developer, Riot Games.
League of Legends has more than 100 million monthly players.
UCI has invested heavily on esports with scholarships, as well as a 3,500-square-foot gaming center on campus, which holds about 80 computers.
It claims to be the first public university to have created an official esports program.