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Heroes of the Dorm drops ESPN for Facebook in third season

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Heroes of the Storm’s college esports series seeks a wider audience online

Heroes of the Storm Blizzard Entertainment

After two years of broadcasting on ESPN, Blizzard’s Heroes of the Dorm competition will return for a 2017 season — but this time it will be broadcast entirely through Facebook. Blizzard made the announcement today, revealing that all stages of this year’s Heroes of the Dorm will take place on the Heroes of the Storm Esports Facebook page, including the Heroic Four and National Championship matches.

As with previous seasons, Heroes of the Dorm will see a collection of college-based teams facing off in matches of Heroes of the Storm and attempt to win major prizes. More than $500,000 in scholarships will be rewarded, including paid tuition for members of the winning team.

Blizzard says the shift to Facebook will allow for “a new kind of connected esports event” by connecting viewers directly to players on the social media platform. The developer says it will also use Facebook to present statistics, team and player profiles and more.

While the shift from a big cable television station to Facebook may call into question how successful Heroes of the Dorm was on ESPN, some fans are likely to view it with relief as well. With last year’s Heroic Four and National Championship matches only available live on ESPN2, many of the younger, online-centric fans without cable subscriptions had trouble viewing.

On the other hand, the Facebook deal also means that none of Heroes of the Dorm will be broadcast on YouTube or Twitch, the two most popular esports platforms by a huge margin. The entire event, including video on demand of completed matches, will only be available on Facebook.

For his part, Blizzard CEO and cofounder Mike Morhaime played up the change as a net positive for the tournament.

“We’re excited to be working with Facebook this year to bring more live Heroes of the Dorm play to more viewers around the world than ever before,” he said in a press release statement.

Group stages for Heroes of the Dorm will begin on Feb. 15 and last through March 2. Regional playoffs will take place on March 4 and 5, followed by regional finals on March 8 and 9. The round of 64 will begin March 18, whittling down teams until the Heroic Four and National Championship on April 8.

For more on Heroes of the Storm, check out our recent feature on its new director, Alan Dabiri, and Blizzard’s plans for the game in 2017.