We interviewed the creative force behind the first League of Legends focused documentary series to air on ESPN!
ESPN has always been the worldwide leader of sports, but they’ve begun to delve into the great, new frontier of esports in recent years. Now, for the first time ever, the biggest name in sports television will be airing a series dedicated entirely to esports. Focused on the collegiate League of Legends team at UC Irvine, GOOD GAME is set to expose the LoL and the growing world of collegiate esports to a massive audience.
Helmed by Bonnie Bernstein, who has spent the last two decades at ESPN and CBS Sports covering events like the Super Bowl, College Football Championship and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, GOOD GAME is her first major reporting on esports. The series will follow the path of UC Irvine’s League of Legends team, the defending collegiate champions, in the first ever League of Legends documentary on a traditional sports network.
This four-part series will look at the infrastructure behind UCI’s League of Legends program and the similarities between traditional athletes and esports athletes. However, Bernstein also promises that the show will tackle other important topics like the stigma surrounding video games and gaming, mental health and how it relates to esports, and the issues of misogyny and online harassment that surround gaming.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with Ms. Bernstein to discuss the experience of getting this series made and her thoughts on collegiate esports. If you want to learn more about her reporting and check out her other work, follow her on Twitter, and follow her on Facebook!
JT: How did you, someone who has an accomplished career in traditional sports journalism, decide to enter into the esports/League of Legends arena?
BB: To be honest, I didn’t find esports. Esports found me!
I was at a traditional sports industry conference called Cynopsis a few years back, and Andy Swanson, who was at Twitch at the time, was doing an esports keynote presentation. I wasn’t paying much attention, til he threw up a slide of Key Arena in Seattle, packed to the gills with fans, during The International. At that moment, I was like, “Whoa. What the hell is this?”
Andy and I started chatting specifically about collegiate esports, because college sports was my focus at the time. He introduced me to Mark “Garvey” Candella, who oversees Collegiate at Twitch. Garvey teed me up with Kurt “The Godfather” Melcher (who launched the first varsity scholarship program when he was at Robert Morris University) and Michael “Spicy Sherm” Sherman who runs College LoL for Riot. These are the folks who brought me into the fold, taught me everything I know and have treated me like family.
JT: What was the process like pitching this series at ESPN?
BB: Oh, I didn’t just pitch ESPN, I pitched…
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