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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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Houston drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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