A Look Inside The CENC Tournament

The Collegiate Esports National Championship (CENC) debuted on April 29th and marks the first time that student-athletes from different schools and associations can compete in one place. Proceeds from CENC will be given to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

What is the CENC?

Created by the Collegiate Sports Management Group (CSMG), the CENC offers a unified outlet to build experience and reputation.

Neil A. Malvone is the EVP of Business Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at CSMG and CEO/Founder of Cutting Edge Sports Management. He explains that they founded CENC to be the first truly inclusive collegiate esports national championship.

“We have teams competing that are part of governing body associations like the ECAC and NECC,” explained Malvone. “We also have teams competing that won championships in other associations like NACE, EGF, and ESL. Schools that just won regional or conference-type championships such as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Big Sky, etc. [are also taking part].”

Schools that host prominent esports programs such as Northwood, Akron, UC Irvine and UT Dallas also represent their institutions in ECAC and will put their best players to the test. This is the first time that all of those schools are competing against each other in one particular championship event. 

“That’s why we wanted to create it,” Malvone said. “We wanted to be the landing spot for all these teams to compete in one place to have a true national championship. For us, it’s being first, it’s being innovative, inclusive and it’s being front and center as the conversation in collegiate esports.”

Why CENC is Important for College Students and Coaches

Collegiate esports is gaining ground rapidly but currently lacks unification. As Cody Elsen, Director/Head Esports Coach at Northwood University explains, it’s important to have a platform on which to showcase his players.

“Not all of [our esports players] have the same aspirations, but I would imagine a lot of them across the board want to turn professional or become full-time streamers one day,” says Elsen, noting that any type of exposure is important. “Any time you can measure where programs are at compared to others when it comes to skill level and teams are important as well.”

Northwood University supports nine competitive esports titles: League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, NFL Smite, Apex Legends, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Call of Duty, and Rainbow Six. His team has played in 24 competitions.

“The competition side is extremely important from the coaching side and for the players, too,” Elsen added. “Everybody likes to see where they’re at. Right now, in college esports, there are only a couple of things to truly play in. So something like this that’s being developed — and hopefully, [it becomes a] yearly thing — is a great way to end our calendar year, if you will, to know where we stand and what we need to work on over the summer going into the fall.”

How to Watch

If you would like to watch college students duke it out in the very first national championship for college esports, there are two options:

The CENC takes place from April 29-May 2, 2021, and begins at [ ]. You can watch the tournament unfold live on Twitch HERE. ESTV will re-air all CENC gameplay as well. 

Teams have already qualified for the first CENC via conference championships, play-in tournaments, and at-large bids. For being selected, participating schools will receive scholarship dollars.

Watch as 48 Teams, 16 per game title, compete to be named the champion of Overwatch, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. One champion will be crowned for each title.

CENC is presented with partnership support from the College Esports Expo, College Life Italia, the High School Esports League (HSEL), the NFL Alumni Association, Esports Television (ESTV), Athletes Unheard, eTeamSponsor, Barbasol Brands, Lenny & Larry’s, Legion by Lenovo, iBUYPower, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, Death Wish Coffee Company, New Belgium Brewing, Reveal Suits, Carolina Ale House, Army National Guard and HyperX. 

If you would like to learn more about how to participate in the CENC or how the Collegiate Sports Management Group can help your school earn revenue by offering and supporting esports programs, contact Neil Malvone: or visit

Written by HB Duran | image credit: Collegiate Sports Management Group

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