The Maui Esports Invitational featuring Rocket League and delivered by goPuff, hosted virtually Nov. 19-22, marked the first-ever expansion of the premier collegiate basketball tournament, the Maui Invitational, into esports. The first iteration of the event was a success, garnering more than 150,000 viewers each day across ESPN channels and Twitch, totaling more than 1.1 million views overall. The event peaked at more than 52,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch.
The invitational was run by organizers of the 2020 Camping World Maui Invitational, Chicago-based sports marketing and events agency KemperLesnik, and produced in partnership with Estars Studios, a leading independent production company for esports and gaming events. The event saw twenty collegiate esports teams compete in Rocket League, a three-versus-three competition where teams play soccer using rocket-powered cars, from developer Psyonix.
“We were thrilled to bring the competition of the Maui Invitational off the court and online through the inaugural Maui Esports Invitational,” said Scot Thor, Vice President at KemperLesnik. “As the Maui Esports Invitational grows, we continue to reach an expanded audience, offering our sponsors new opportunities and increased value partnering with the Maui Invitational brand. Planning for the 2021 tournament is already underway with double the bracket size.”
Held virtually, the competition included seven teams mirroring those from the 2020 Camping World Maui Invitational, eleven leading esports programs and two teams decided through an East and West regional qualifying competition. After a series of intense matches, Northwoods University quickly advanced through the qualifiers and went on to defeat the University of Missouri in the finals, broadcast on ESPN2, winning scholarships and prizes from sponsors HyperX and ASUS.
“We’re honored to have won the first Maui Esports Invitational,” said Northwood Esports Director and Head Coach Cody Elsen. “As a fan of the Maui Invitational basketball tournament, it was great to see Maui Invitational extend into esports, reaching schools of all sizes.”