GAME ON

Houston esports company taps universities for partnerships

Houston-based Mainline has announced new partnerships with a few universities. Jamie McInall/Pexels

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap.

A Houston esports platform has announced that four universities — including one in town — have made moves to optimize the company's technology.

Texas A&M University, the University of Texas - Austin, Louisiana State University, and Houston's own University of St. Thomas have made a deal with Mainline. The company, which just closed a $9.8 million series A round, is a software and management platform for esports tournaments.

The four schools will use the software to host and grow their on-campus esports communities, according to a news release.

"These are top universities seeing the value of esports on-campus and making a choice to support their students' desires to play and compete — much like in traditional sports," says Chris Buckner, CEO at Mainline, in the release. "Adoption of Mainline is validation of the opportunity to engage students and the broader community with a compelling esports platform, as well as strengthen a school's brand, provide additional partnership opportunities and market their initiatives"

While UST has is still in the process of utilizing Mainline for its esports platform to grow its program and will use the software for its first tournament in 2020, A&M first used Mainline's software this past spring, but has doubled down on its commitment to esports.

"Texas A&M recognizes the significant esports presence on campus and the importance of supporting this thriving student community. Mainline allows us to maintain the brand continuity of the university, and to drive incremental inventory and value for sponsors," says Mike Wright, director of public relations and strategic communications at Texas A&M Athletics, in the release.

The platform provides its clients with an easy way to manage, monetize, and market their tournaments.

At UT, the school's administration, along with its Longhorn Gaming Club, is currently running two tournaments on Mainline: Rocket League and League of Legends.

"Texas has had a long established esports community on campus, and our partnership with Mainline will enable us to more closely work with Longhorn Gaming to better support this audience to benefit our students and partners," says Mike Buttersworth, director of the Center for Sports Communication and Media at UT, in the release.

Continue on InnovationMap to learn about the esports tournament that's running at LSU.

Will this be the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Our columnist hopes so. Photo by John P. Johnson/HBO

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

My career, this long hard climb from the bottom to the middle, has come full circle. My first job in Houston was TV-radio columnist for the now-gone Houston Post. All day long, I watched TV. All night, too. I was dedicated.

Now, with the coronavirus outbreak, I'm stuck at home and back to watching TV all day and night. I am bored.

My second day on the job as TV columnist at the Post, I made a mistake and referred to KPRC, the NBC affiliate here, as KPNX, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, my newspaper stop before Houston. Simple mistake, but still embarrassing. One of the sports anchors at KPRC sent me an insulting welcome note, saying I'll never last in Houston making dumb mistakes like that. Just for the record, I'm still here. He's long gone.

The TV diet

For the past month, I've been hitting TV extra hard. My viewing habits have changed a lot since then, though. "Must-See Thursday" has become "I'll Watch Thursday On DVR When I Get Around To It."

I'm getting up pretty early, since the social distancing order came down. Early on, I started my day with our local stations' 4, 5, 6-hour morning newscasts. I never realized how many car crashes there are in Houston. The hosts are much happier, and less groggier, than I am. They're so wired and giddy, it might be time for them to pee in a Dixie cup.

I used to be a news junkie — CNN was my go-to channel. I can't watch the news anymore. All I hear is coronavirus bad news. All I see is my life's saving circle the drain. Even the five minutes of sports on the 10 o'clock news is awful because there's nothing to report.

They say that you can have 150 stations on your cable package, and you'll watch only five regularly. Mine used to be news-news-sports-sports-HBO. Now my fab five are Netflix-food-comedy-Amazon-HBO. And I'm getting ready to drop HBO because a certain show has said goodbye.

I watch the press conferences starring Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Don't you get the feeling that they have no use for each other? I happen to think they're both doing a competent job. It's just a personality and ego clash between them.

Curb to the curb?

Most depressing of all: Curb Your Enthusiasm, my favorite show ever, aired its 10th and final episode of the season on HBO last Sunday night. From the way Larry David tied up all the loose strings, I'm scared Curb is never coming back. Modern Family, another favorite, is winding down its last season, but this has been a lame farewell season. It's gone from wild comedy to sappy comedy. Sappy isn't funny. While Curb had a huge season, Modern Family should have stopped the show two years ago.

I'm down to watching The Office reruns and old Twilight Zone episodes on Netflix and WWE wrestling on USA and Fox. I'm listening to sports talk radio because I like hearing the hosts scramble for something, anything to talk about. I'm tuning in podcasts like Jim Cornette's Drive-thru, the Jim Cornette Experience and Something About the Beatles. I like Josh Innes' podcast. I get into bed around midnight, hit Youtube and the next time I check what time it is, it's 5 am.

I'm addicted to those videos where people sucker police into confrontations, and then throw the First Amendment at the officers. They goad the officers by taking video of federal buildings and security-sensitive property from the sidewalk, where the Supreme Court says it's okay. Most of the time, the police back off, but occasionally the agitator gets cuffed, stuffed and hauled off in the back of a cop car. There are hundreds of these videos and I never get tired of them.

Sold on shopping channels
I love the home shopping channels, but only if they're demonstrating products like vacuum cleaners and blenders, or selling food like Corky's BBQ or frozen croissants from France. The guy from Corky's has an annoying habit of brushing sauce all over his hands. I can't watch if they're hawking clothes or cosmetics on home shopping. Big fan of In the Kitchen with David on QVC. When David Venable digs into a plate of macaroni and cheese, porn stars could learn from his facial expressions.

I watch old reruns of Pawn Stars. A couple of things: they need to clean their nasty fingernails, all of the guys. I've seen car mechanics with cleaner hands. And the Old Man is not crusty but lovable. He's just a mean old man. Kids, don't hit your ball into his yard — you'll never get it back. I don't have to DVR Impractical Jokers, because it's on 24-hours on TruTV and Channel 57 and Channel 2.

Continue on CultureMap for Ken's thoughts on the non-sporting life.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome