Developer Psyonix is once again teaming up with esports platform Faceit and the NBC Sports Group for its Universal Open Rocket League tourney. It’s the soccer-with-cars’ second annual competition, and this year, it will include European qualifiers. Competitors can sign up at the Universal Open site, and the first match will be on May 28 to May 29.
This year’s prize pool will again be $100,000, and the 2-on-2 tournament will culminate in the grand finals from August 24 to August 26 in Stamford, Connecticut. The closed qualifiers will be broadcast from Faceit’s studio in London, and NBC Sports will livestream the regional finals as well as the final showdowns for the grand prize.
Rocket League has been a hit, selling more than 10 and a half million copies last year and rolling out a new tournament mode on the Nintendo Switch in April. Psyonix reports that it has more than 44 million players, a number that’s positioned to grow once Chinese tech giant Tencent brings the game to China.
The last Universal Open marked NBC’s foray into livestreaming esports, and this year it’s back for more. It’s not the only broadcasting company that’s interested in the space, however — Turner Sports has teamed up with Eleague to air Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments as well as a Street Fighter V reality TV show on TBS.
Esports is slated to grow to 380 million fans and generate $906 million in revenues this year, and big brands are getting increasingly involved. The 2018 Universal Open Rocket League is sponsored by the iced tea company Brisk, which will feature Rocket League commentators Caleb “WavePunk” Simmons and Mike “Quinn Lobdell” Behrouzi in a commercial to promote the event. Last year, telecom company T-Mobile signed on as a sponsor to esports organizations Cloud9 and TSM, and more recently, it sponsored the Overwatch League squad Houston Outlaws.
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