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The college eSports championships

The college eSports championships
Photo Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports and Wrestling. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

This weekend, a first of its kind happened. The Collegiate eSports Championships were combined and held in one place, the George R Brown Convention Center during Comicpalooza. For those who don't understand what that means, there are numerous college programs across America that have gotten into competitive gaming as another scholarship avenue for it's students as well as another great fun thing to get involved with. Most of these games are produced by one major company, Blizzard Entertainment and one major sports broadcaster has gotten heavily involved in the eSports movement, ESPN and this weekend was the two of them working together.

Each of the five games had national events going on starting in January and were eventually down to a total of 22 teams from 20 schools competing in Hearthstone, Overwatch, Starcraft 2, Street Fighter V and Heroes of the Storm.

There were some interesting upsets in some of the events, in the Overwatch event which follows the same scoring and formatting as the Overwatch League Blizzard has created so it's first to 3 match points wins the game, Harrisburg and Utah were equal seeds from opposite sides of the bracket but are vastly different programs. University of Utah has a full eSports program with coaching and school sponsored equipment while Harrisburg is a student funded club that entered the tournament. Another interesting facet of that match was that Utah played a very traditional, what's called tank or camp style where they play the choke points on a map and lay down heavy fire from big slow characters and force the opponent to grind through those killing fields, where as Harrisburg was playing a very unique style. They were specifically running tons of damage inducing, but low health characters that are fast and agile but not built for long protracted grindout battles. It's like if a ninja was fighting a dinosaur, one good hit from the dinosaur and the fights over but maybe the ninja can win, and that's what happened with Harrisburg actually overcoming an early deficit to win the championship.

Starcraft 2 had some interesting moments as well, as this was the only event to feature the fabled and storied UC Berkeley program. They are a legend in the college eSports program as they have long put money and focus into their efforts. Starcraft 2 is a fascinating game to watch happen because there is tons of data to process and decisions to make on the fly, with elite players averaging 350+ interactions/decisions a minute. It's a best of seven series and the matches were great fun to watch and with UC Berkeley pulling out the win.

Hearthstone, Street Fighter V and Heroes of the Storm also lived up to the hype with Georgia Tech winning the Hearthstone championship, RNJIT winning Street Fighter V and Rutgers winning Heroes of the Storm.

ESPN was streaming these events live on twitch but will also package and broadcast the events on ESPN2 May 22nd 6pm central time, so definitely go check that out.

Feel free to check out my digital short story The Wilson House or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help fight cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio or support our Patreon Page. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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Allen had high praise for Diggs. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images.

Impersonal as it might seem to have their dynamic on-field relationship end with an exchange of phone texts, Bills quarterback Josh Allen made it clear on Thursday how much receiver Stefon Diggs meant to him during their four seasons together in Buffalo.

Allen made no mention of Diggs’ mercurial temperament or the occasional sideline flare-ups by expressing only praise in his first opportunity to discuss his now-former teammate being traded to the Houston Texans earlier this month.

“Just thanking him for everything that he did for me, and (I’ll) always have a spot in my heart for him. I’ll always love that guy like a brother. And I wish him nothing but the best,” Allen said, in disclosing what he texted to Diggs. “My lasting memory of Stef will be the receiver that helped me become the quarterback that I am today.”

Brought together in March 2020, when Buffalo gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire Diggs in a trade with Minnesota, the duo went on to re-write many of Buffalo's single-season passing and scoring records, and lead the team to four straight AFC East titles.

Diggs, now 30, also brought an inescapable sense of drama with him in raising questions about his commitment to the Bills and whether his tight relationship with Allen had soured.

A day before being traded, Diggs posted a message, “You sure?” on the social media platform X in response to someone suggesting he wasn’t essential to Allen’s success.

Whatever hard feelings, if any, lingered as Buffalo opened its voluntary workout sessions this week were not apparent from Allen or coach Sean McDermott, who also addressed reporters for the first time since Diggs was traded.

“Stef’s a great player, really enjoyed our time together. Won a lot of games and he was a huge factor in winning those games. We’ll miss him,” McDermott said. “You never replace a player like Stef Diggs, and we wish him well.”

Allen turned his focus to the future and a Bills team that spent much of the offseason retooling an aging and expensive roster.

Aside from trading Diggs, salary cap restrictions led to Buffalo cutting respected center Mitch Morse, the breakup of a veteran secondary that had been together since 2017, and the team unable to afford re-signing No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis.

“I don’t think it’s a wrong thing or a bad thing to get younger,” said Allen, entering his seventh NFL season. “I think it’s an opportunity for myself to grow as a leader. And to bring along some of these young guys and new guys that we’ve brought in to our team. And that’s an opportunity, frankly, that I’m very excited about."

Despite the departures, the Bills offense is not exactly lacking even though general manager Brandon Beane is expected to target selecting a receiver with his first pick — currently 28th overall — in the draft next week.

Receiver Khalil Shakir enters his third year and tight end Dalton Kincaid enter his second following promising seasons. Buffalo also added veteran experience in signing free agent receiver Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins.

While Beane acknowledged the Bills lack a true No. 1 receiver, he noted there’s less urgency to fill that spot now than in 2020 because of how much the offense has developed under Allen.

“Now that Josh has ascended to the player he is, is that a requirement? I don’t think so,” Beane said.

Diggs’ role also began diminishing in the second half of last season, which coincided with Joe Brady replacing Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator. Brady placed an emphasis on adding balance to a pass-heavy attack and getting more receivers involved, which led to an uptick in production for Shakir and Kincaid.

While Diggs’ numbers dropped, Buffalo’s win total increased.

With the Bills at 6-6, Diggs ranked third in the NFL with 83 catches, seventh with 969 yards and tied for third with eight TDs receiving. Buffalo then closed the season with five straight wins in which Diggs combined for 24 catches for 214 yards and no scores.

”(Diggs) meant a lot. You look at the statistics, they don’t lie,” Allen said, in referring to Diggs topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons in Buffalo. “I don’t get paid to make changes on the team. I get paid to be the best quarterback that I can be and try to lead the guys on this team.”

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