HONOLULU (KHON2) – Playing video games professionally has become popular around the world, and it is called playing an “esports”. The popular Overwatch League esports game, based on the Overwatch game, has signed an agreement with the University of Hawaii at Manoa to play its tournaments in Hawaii from May to August.

“In the pandemic environment which has been really difficult, where travel, immigration and health and safety issues have just made everything more complex and complicated,” said Jon Spector, vice president of the Overwatch League .

With players based in Asia and North America, Spector said the best way to connect tournaments from both continents is to have part of the tournament in Hawaii.

“We have the option to take teams that were already based in the US or Canada, and have them travel to Hawaii, which is relatively easy in terms of complicated factors. From a health and safety perspective, we feel good to ask these players to come here. “

While in Hawaii, the league will follow strict COVID-19 protocols that include mask wear, social distancing and a COVID-19 test every 48 hours. Their partner, the University of Hawaii also requires daily symptom control, since the games will be played on campus.

For University of Hawaii students and staff participating in the facilities, they will also need to follow the same rules.

“They take (the test) at home and they basically take the test online. It’s watched. Then they come here and they show the Overwatch League COVID officer the tests and after that they get the green to participate, ”said Sky Kauweloa, head of the esports task force at the University. from Hawaii.

With the tournaments taking place in Hawaii, this will put the state on a global stage.

“This itself is currently a test and if that is successful other publishers, other game developers will look at Hawaii and say you know what, that might be an option.”

Sky Kauweloa, University of Hawaii Head of Electronic Sports Working Group

While the University of Hawaii was unable to comment on the revenue it could bring to the state, dozens of Overwatch League, staff, players and coaches have stayed in local hotels in Waikiki.

Kauweloa said additional esports tournaments may even draw esports fans to the islands in the future when things open up more.

“We can do regional cross-country championships between the West Coast of the United States or the continental United States and East Asia. Once that happens, you have more interest, a bigger spotlight placed on the island itself, ”Kauweloa said.

It is also an opportunity for the students to work behind the scenes.

“… Giving younger students a more stable path into the esports industry, whether through college as a player, broadcast or whatever interests them,” Kason Padilla said. , e-sport project manager.

As for the league, Spector said the University of Hawaii contract was signed for the 2021 season, but beyond that they weren’t sure. However, he said they were excited about the partnership.

“It has been months and months of planning on behalf of our entire team and partners at the University of Hawaii, and to feel welcome here and to be able to host these global tournaments for our fans all over the world is really. special, and we’re not taking any of this for granted, given how complicated and difficult it all is in the pandemic environment, so we’re delighted to be here, ”said Spector.

The first tournament in May, the “May Melee” will take place from May 6 to 8. People can connect to watch it here.