The St. Louis Blues don’t have much to do with the 2019-20 season on hold. Despite empty offices, however, they have still managed to get things done in the community.
We are not talking about the simulated games that have been brought to you on the team’s social media and covered here as well. The Blues will actually be organizing a tournament and also a gaming division.
The Blues will be partnering with Maryville University in this venture, which is smart. Maryville currently has one of the better sports management programs in the country and tout a 93% job placement rate.
St. Louis is going to start off with two different things. One will be a tournament for high school competitors aligned with the schools in the Mid-States Club Hockey Association, as well as other schools that wish to participate.
The other will be an open tournament. The open tournament will be a one-on-one format, for both Xbox and Playstation, with the number of competitors unrestricted at this juncture.
Due to the current pandemic, both tournaments will be online only. There will be no central meeting place to play.
On the surface, these things seem fine and should be a blast for those involved. The only main gripe is online formats give distinct advantages to those with better internet connections.
In a time when a large percentage of the workforce is working from home and putting a strain on the bandwidth, it seems an odd time to put even more load on. Also, if someone is wanting to play, but lives farther away, they are at a disadvantage. Lag and speed may affect sports games slightly less than a shooter, but it can still make the difference between a defender making a hit or getting a stick out and a goal.
Still, the high school tournament sounds intriguing. It will be a team format comprising teams of at least six, which presumably means someone will have the dreaded duty of playing in goal. As a goalie, I have tried the goaltender controls and it is simply not for everyone.
However, beyond these tournaments, I won’t deny that for some reason I have reservations about the Blues getting involved in e-sports. This is not a one-time foray into this arena just to drum up good will.
The Blues plan to be involved, along with Maryville’s Gateway Esports Association, to present more NHL 20 competitions. Beyond that, they intend to explore “additional gaming activations locally around other popular titles.”
The goal of this new division, Blues Gaming, is to find engagement opportunities with the gaming and esports communities. This is why I did not go into marketing. It seems like your general product should be what engages fans, not slapping your name on something vaguely associated with your brand, but that’s just me.
This does open the possibility of either a Blues league or even an NHL league, similar to what has happened with the NBA. Some teams actually own their own esports team in the NBA.
This was not expressly stated in the press release. However it says Gateway Esports Association’s goal is to “support and promote members’ esports leagues in the Midwest region.”
That could mean any number of things. However, a Blues/NHL e-sports league or a racing e-sports league would be logical extensions given the program’s dealings with the Blues and now World Wide Technology Raceway.
Even if I’m not crazy about the competitions, it’s gaining traction. It can’t be said it is any less legitimate than poker or darts and it is more widely accessible to the general public than those things.
Personally, I’ll stick to playing the computer and creating myself as a bruising defender that still has 99’s as every stat.
We’ll see where this all leads. Right now, it’s just smart business to get in on the ground floor.
For those that are interested in competing in either tournament, you can register at stlouisblues.com/esports.