Sports commission hosting first esports tournament


Esports players face-off in a gaming competition. Photo via

“League of Legends” is the game of choice for the inaugural Grand Rapids Rift Clash tournament.

The West Michigan Sports Commission will host the first competitive video gaming tournament from Feb. 7-9 at Celebration Cinema GR North, 2121 Celebration Drive NE.

“Esports is so popular worldwide that the potential for our region is immense and represents a growth area for the sports commission,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission. “This trend will only increase, so it makes sense to create our own event to establish ourselves as an esports community so we can bid on these types of events in the future. Our long-term goal is to grow this event to the point where we’re filling Van Andel Arena with a tournament.”

Esports garnered an audience of 453.8 million people globally last year. The sport is expected to grow to 645 million and generate $1.8 billion by 2022, according to the Newzoo 2019 Global Games Market Report.

The Grand Rapids Rift Clash competition was created by WMSC with support from the esports programs at Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University and East Kentwood High School; and in partnership with Celebration Cinema GR North.

It will feature teams of five, along with a coach and an alternative player. So far, Aquinas College, Central Michigan University, Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, Jackson College, Michigan State University, Indiana Tech, Ohio Northern University and East Kentwood High School have all registered for the competition. The goal is to register 16 high school and 16 college teams from Michigan and neighboring states.

More than 100 million people watched the 2019 “League of Legends” World Championship globally.

The competition will be in a pool-play format. Based on full capacity of registered teams, pool play will be randomly divided into four divisions for both high school and college levels.

Each team will play the other three teams within their respective division (three-game minimum for all teams). Half of pool play games will take place on Friday night, alternating between high school and college matches.

The top eight teams in high school and college will advance and begin championship play Saturday evening. Teams will be seeded one to eight based on pool play records and tiebreakers. Semifinal matches and tournament finals will take place Sunday. The college team winner will receive $2,500, and the high school team winner will receive $1,000, which will go back to its esports school program.

The schedule is as follows:

Friday, Feb. 7

3 p.m.: Spectator and team entrance opens; team registration

4 p.m.: College pool play matches begin

5 p.m.: High school pool play matches begin (estimated)

Saturday, Feb. 8

9 a.m.: Spectator and team entrance opens

10 a.m.: Day 2 pool play matches begin 

5 p.m.: Tournament play Round 1 begins (top 8 teams from pool play) 

Sunday, Feb. 9

8 a.m.: Spectator and team entrance opens

9 a.m.: Tournament play Round 2 begins 

12 p.m.: High school tournament final 

1 p.m.: College tournament final – Theater 1

For more information, visit

Facebook Comments