FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
University of California, Berkeley Announces
Groundbreaking Esports Partnership with NRG Esports/SF Shock;
New Esports Community Center
The first of its kind partnership between a major university and professional esports organization includes Women in Gaming, Career Center and educational initiatives
SAN FRANCISCO – April 18, 2018 – NRG Esports, the San Francisco Shock and the University of California, Berkeley today announced an innovative partnership between the leading public University and the Northern California-based professional esports organization. As a premier sponsor of the Cal Esports program, NRG and the San Francisco Shock will collaborate with UC Berkeley and additional sponsors to launch the new campus esports community center at the Foothill complex in fall 2018.
The announcement comes on the heels of the Cal Esports team’s second consecutive win at the recent Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship, and as the SF Shock begin the second half of the inaugural Overwatch League Season. This partnership with NRG and the SF Shock marks the latest expansion of the University’s new esports program, which takes an integrated approach that incorporates multiple aspects of the student experience and focuses on five overarching pillars: community, competition, social responsibility, wellness and lifelong learning.
“Over the past few years, esports has gained a lot of momentum, and we’re incredibly proud of our student athletes,” said Stephen Sutton, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC Berkeley. “Student interest has been a major driving force behind our program. Our unique, holistic approach puts UC Berkeley’s public mission at its core. We’ve quickly learned that esports isn’t just about gaming — it’s a growing industry and lifestyle. We’re excited to partner with the SF Shock to create career pathways and educational opportunities for students in this expanding job market.”
“By investing in this esports program, we’re investing in the future: technology, reinvented community, new learning models, and of course, the students,” said Andy Miller, owner and CEO of NRG and the San Francisco Shock. “Not only is UC Berkeley one of the most prestigious institutions for higher learning in the world, but it also runs the best collegiate esports program in the country. We look forward to the many things we can do together not just in our Northern California market, but hopefully throughout the esports community as well.”
In addition to competitive gaming, the partnership will provide support for educational and professional development programs for esports student athletes, including a community innovation lab, exploring tie-ins to for-credit courses, connections to a professional, competitive team for students interested in becoming professional players, industry internships and job fairs in association with the campus Career Center, and an alumni gaming chapter.
The partnership will also highlight a mindfulness, health and wellness program for gamers, as well as a Women in Gaming Initiative to create a gateway for more female gamers to play more games, with more confidence. UC Berkeley student and gaming community leader Cherie Lin, who is also co-leading the Women in Gaming initiative, believes UC Berkeley is full of active and committed gamers, brought together by their shared passion for esports. “Thanks to the new center and our partnerships,” Lin said, “we can build on that dedication to promote gender equality in the gaming community, in addition to creating new opportunities for the entire student body.”
The new Shock and NRG sponsored Cal Esports community center, located at an historically under-scheduled side of campus, will provide students a place to gather, watch matches and hone gaming skills. Beyond being an esports arena, the center will serve as a campus hub for collegiate esports and gaming-related activities with ongoing events such as mixers, TED-style talks for gamers, meetings with industry leaders and student lab hours.
The first co-sponsored event will take place at UC Berkeley’s campus on Wednesday, April 18, 5-9 p.m. PST. Students will be invited to an SF Shock viewing party as the team takes on the Dallas Fuel. Reporters interested in attending the event should RSVP by 4 p.m. day of the event to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About UC Berkeley and Cal Esports
The University of California, Berkeley is the world’s premier public university dedicated to excellence in teaching, research and public service. The University of California was chartered in 1868 and its flagship campus in Berkeley, on San Francisco Bay, now has more than 1,500 full-time and 500 part-time faculty members dispersed among more than 130 academic departments and more than 80 interdisciplinary research units.
Cal Esports includes more than 90 collegiate student-athletes on 10 competitive teams, who represent UC Berkeley at national and international competitions. The campus also has a wide variety of active clubs and student groups on campus, from casual play to game design, that engage the gaming community.
About the San Francisco Shock and NRG Esports
The San Francisco Shock, one of the 12 esports franchises competing in the Overwatch League's inaugural season, is owned by NRG esports, a San Francisco-based esports organization competing in eight professional video game leagues and known for its deeply engaged fan base. NRG was founded in 2015 by Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov, co-owners of the Sacramento Kings. NRG investors include Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, and Jennifer Lopez, alongside Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
OVERWATCH, OVERWATCH LEAGUE, BLIZZARD, and BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT are trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Adam Ratliff, UC Berkeley
David Swartz, NRG esports