David Chen, Ashley DeWalt, Neil Duffy and Marc Williams headline WVU's Esports Symposium and Master Class.

WVU to host two-day Esports gaming symposium and master class

West Virginia University will host a two-day event designed to expose students to career opportunities in Esports, a gaming phenomenon that has become a billion-dollar global industry.

The Esports Symposium and Master Class held Thursday and Friday (March 21 and 22) offers a general introduction to Esports, organized, multiplayer video game competitions.

The symposium will feature industry trailblazers including Dave Chen, co-owner of FaZe Clan, the largest Esports team in the world; Ashley DeWalt, co-founder and managing partner of WD | Esports + Entertainment; and Neil Duffy, chief commercial office for Collegiate Starleague. The free event begins Thursday at 6 p.m at the Media Innovation Center in Evansdale Crossing and will be moderated by Marc Williams, co-founder and managing partner of WD | Esports + Entertainment.

“Esports is a phenomenon that crosses disciplinary boundaries,” said, Maryanne Reed, Dean of the Reed College of Media. “It is poised to have a huge impact on the sports, business and media industries, so it is impossible for universities to ignore. I’m pleased that WVU is getting in on the ground floor.”

Friday’s Esports Master Class is a one-day, six-hour workshop that will address the history, ecosystem, trends, career paths and cultural impact of the Esports industry; 20 students were selected to participate through a competitive application process.

Led by Williams and DeWalt, who co-founded one of the first Esports business degree specializations in the country at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, the class will begin with a presentation on the history of gaming and Esports in education. Students will learn about trends in marketing, sponsorships and advertising before breaking into groups. Each group will develop an Esports marketing campaign and make presentations at the end of the workshop.

Chen and Duffy will also work with students during the Master Class portion. The four presenters are not only innovators in the Esports industry, but are also experts in business, sports and media.

The cross-campus collaboration brings together students from diverse disciplines in the Reed College of Media, the John Chambers College of Business and Economics and the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.

Chen has more than 10 years of experience with big-four firm Deloitte. In 2017, he joined SparkleCOIN, which became the first cryptocurrency with real-world applications. He is on the Board of Directors and is part owner of Faze Clan, which has the largest social media following of all Esports companies with more than 14 million followers.

DeWalt is a leading brand strategist, marketing consultant, lecturer, entrepreneur and sports tech investor. Previously he was the founder and managing principal of LVRG Sports, a leading brand management and marketing consultancy. His marketing campaigns have been featured in leading media outlets including Forbes, ESPN, Fox Sports and CBS Sports and he has consulted for several famous athletes and brands.

Duffy is the Chief Commercial Officer for Collegiate Starleague, the world’s largest collegiate Esports tournament and league provider. It is represented on 1,600 campuses with more than 40,000 student gamers competing for scholarships in 12 games across PC, console and mobile.

Williams has worked for three of the largest sports brands in the world including Champs Sports, Footaction and Reebok, and his insights have been featured in several media outlets including CBS Evening News, BBC, Billboard Magazine, AdWeek and USA Today. He holds a Masters in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts and a Doctorate in Education from WVU.

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