NBC ventures into esports with this summer's $100K Rocket League tournament

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As more traditional television networks realize how popular esports can be, it’s becoming far more common to see games of all sorts show up during your regular programming. NBC is the latest network to haul itself aboard the bandwagon, and it will begin its foray into the digital sports world by broadcasting a Rocket League 2v2 tournament, starting July 22.

When Rocket League first debuted in 2015, few thought it could become the gaming behemoth it is today. Beyond its millions of active players though, it’s turned into a hotly competitive esport, too, and that’s lead to partnerships of all shapes and sizes, as well as international coverage. NBC is looking to take advantage of its high-speed, easy to understand gameplay with its own tournament, of which it will show upwards of 40 hours of gameplay and analysis.

Although we don’t have the full details on how it will be split, there will be a $100,000 prize pool up for grabs.

Set to start on July 22 with regional qualifiers using the Faceit esports platform (thanks Engadget), the tournament will initially take place online. However, those who make it through will soon find themselves facing one another quite literally, as they compete as part of the in-person grand finals on August 26 and 27.

NBC isn’t looking to keep this tournament in the United States, though, and has pledged to showcase it on the Syfy channel in the United Kingdom, alongside its NBC Sports Network at home. The qualifiers will also be split across regional networks, as well as several European channels for their particular qualifiers.

Rocket League developer Psyonix is understandably excited about the news, and suggested that Rocket League was a good entry point into the world of esports for traditional sports viewers. With its easy to understand gameplay, viewers quickly know how close the game is, even if they can’t necessarily appreciate the complexities of play right off of the bat.

With this tournament, NBC is trialing a grassroots approach to coverage, hoping that by showcasing regional tournaments on its regional networks, it will be able to engender a measure of local support for competitors before they transition to the main stage finals on larger networks.

For anyone who misses out on coverage of the tournament finals and grand finals, NBC will also showcase many of the games on its video-on-demand services and social channels, as well as regional network replays.

Rocket League was also recently confirmed to have an upcoming Nintendo Switch launch, so if you haven’t played it yet, there will be one more platform to try it out on by the end of the year.