EA and Learfield IMG College Launch Level Next Esports League

by in Collegiate Esports | Oct, 28th 2020

Learfield IMG College is a leader in media and technology services, when it comes to intercollegiate athletics. Today, they announced the company will team up with EA to create Level Next, the College Esports League. This multiyear partnership aims to create the largest official collegiate esports league in history, which is certainly a bold move. We will see at least one of the EA esports franchises in LEvel NExt, and it will also be the official home for EA’s collegiate esports champions. How big is this league? How does 2500+ schools strike you? 

Are you a college student, interested in joining in? The Registration Link is right here!

Nationwide Collegiate Esports

In addition, Level Next College Esports will be the first supported by official school branding, which is pretty neat. This is all going to kick off soon with the Fall Champions Series – featuring EA’s Madden NFL 21. This is going to get going on November 9th, so you don’t have a lot of time to register. What are the requirements though?

You just have to be a college student attending a four-year accredited university. The Fall Champions Series will be an eight-week tournament, with a regular season, playoffs, and ultimately, a championship. One team will be the national champions for their school. It’s a got to be an awesome feeling to be a national champion. 

But how about money? There’s got to be something on the line. The Fall Champions Series from Level Next College Esports will have a 150,000+ prize pool. More than 30,000 will be awarded directly to campus esports programs, via a social marketing campaign.

Cole Gahagan of Learfield IMG College (President/CEO) spoke about the advent of Level Next:

“The creation of Level Next is an unprecedented opportunity for all of our partners within the collegiate ecosystem – from brands who wish to target this unique and fast-growing audience, to universities who aim to tap into significant engagement being generated in and around esports. Given their unmatched track record of innovation and game marketing, Electronic Arts is the absolute perfect partner to join us in this historic launch, tapping into 1.5 million students, and delivering an entirely new experience to over 185 million nationwide college sports fans.”

If there’s anything collegiate esports needs right now, it’s structure; it sounds like Level Next College Esports is going to be able to do just that. They will unify competitive play for all college students, and let them officially represent their schools on the road to national championships. Don’t worry though,t here will be a variety of seasons a year, with more games than just Madden. 

What games would we like to see though? If we could pick five games as represented esports, this particular writer wants to see the following games showing up as esports:

  • MTG Arena (Card Games)
  • League of Legends (MOBA)
  • Valorant (FPS)
  • Rocket League (Sports/Racing)
  • Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition (Fighting Games)

Todd Sitrin, SVP, and GM of EA’s Competitive Gaming Entertainment sector spoke about the announcement as well:

“Level Next brings esports into focus for students and universities across the country in a unique way which capitalizes on the excitement and camaraderie of college competition.

“By leveraging EA’s decades of experience at the intersection of traditional sports and esports, and Learfield IMG College’s unprecedented scale and position as the official rights holder for over 200 universities and conferences, this collaboration will establish a much-needed structure within the collegiate esports ecosystem and help to accelerate Madden NFL competitive gaming popularity.” 

We honestly think this is a great idea, as long as no one game or school receives any kind of preferential treatment. It’s imperative for this to be balanced and uniform, so all schools have a fair shake to enter and show what their team can do. The Level Next Fall Champions Series matches and programming will also be available on both their Twitch channel as well as the official website

This could do a great deal of good for esports as a whole at the collegiate level. Both High School and Collegiate esports are very fragmented, with a variety of leagues and competitions to join. If this winds up helping the growth and unification of college esports, we’ll be very glad to see it happen.


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