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‘I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am Without UK’: UK Alumna and TV Personality Gives Back to UK Students Pursuing Careers in Esports

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'I Wouldn't Be Where I Am Without UK': UK Alumna and TV Personality Gives Back to UK Students Pursuing Careers in Esports

 

For University of Kentucky alumna Erin Simon, esports changed her life. The billion-dollar industry has opened doors for her she didn’t know existed. Now, a multimedia personality, host, producer and consultant within esports, gaming and entertainment, Simon wants to open those same doors for others at the university through the Erin Ashley Simon Esports Internship Fund.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without UK,” said Simon, who is a 2014 graduate of the College of Communication and Information. “UK was where I really built my journalism skills and had professors and fellow students who believed in me and my future. Now that I’m a broadcaster in gaming and entertainment, as well as a co-owner of the new esports organization XSET, it’s my turn to pay it forward.”

Home to the first-of-its-kind global gaming and esports program, UK brings together academics, community, professional development, collegiate competition and multidisciplinary research around the growing global sport. Together, UK and its gaming partner, Gen.G, are creating an innovative program unlike any other in the country.

“I wanted to start this scholarship because accessibility is not only an issue in education, but also an issue in esports and gaming,” Simon said. “I want to help create an additional route for the youth to not only gain experiences in esports and get an education but to have an amazing experience at the University of Kentucky, the same way I did when I attended.”

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The Erin Ashley Simon Esports Internship Fund will include a multi-year internship, which will offer extensive mentorship and experiential learning opportunities that engage and educate students on the many facets of the dynamic esports industry that extend far beyond the classroom. 

Financial support will also be provided to recipients with demonstrable financial need who wish to pursue UK’s esports program. The initiative seeks to make the UK experience possible for students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to attend. 

Leaders at the university, like Heath Price, UK associate chief information officer, believe the internship fund will add an exciting new depth and dimension to UK’s esports program, while also helping the university to reach a broader student audience. 

“UK wants to be a thought leader in the esports and video game community, building a foundation of technology investment that pushes the envelope in areas of social and competitive gaming and seeks to serve important community values — democratizing access to great career opportunities; respecting people on- and offline; and intentional outreach to interested parties irrespective of race, gender or identity,” Price said. 

“Practical experiences are very important in the competitive professional landscape of today and tomorrow,” Price continued. “Opportunities like the Erin Ashley Simon Esports Internship Fund, that provide a combination of experience and mentorship, have the potential to be transformative when you consider the preparation necessary to compete for jobs and pursue careers across the rapidly evolving video game and esports industries.”

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The application for the internship fund will open in the fall of 2022. The criteria to apply is as follows:

  • Applicants must possess a minimum of a 3.00 unweighted high school grade-point average, out of a possible 4.0. 
  • Applicants must possess demonstrable financial need as evidenced in their individual financial aid record. 
  • Esports experience with gaming ties, which can include coding, broadcasting, content creation, event organization and more is preferred. 
  • Applicants are holistically considered on an individual basis. Diversity in all its forms is welcome and encouraged. 

The landscape of esports is ever evolving, particularly collegiate esports.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, UK has a bold and vital mission — to nurture an outstanding learning community that inspires students, staff and faculty alike, preparing them for an increasingly diverse and technological world.

Not only will this fund help to fulfill the university’s mission, but it will also break barriers for students like Simon who didn’t know a future in the esports and gaming industry was possible.

“I look forward to the start of this scholarship and am so thankful for UK, JMI, Gen.G, XSET and other companies that are interested in working with me on this opportunity for our youth,” Simon said.

To learn more about the esports initiative at the university, go to: www.uky.edu/esports/. 

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More About Erin Simon

Erin Ashley Simon is a multimedia personality, host, producer and consultant within esports, gaming and entertainment. Her love and passion for these areas has helped to shape who she is today, pushing the culture forward, breaking barriers as a female in the industry. In doing so, Simon was the first individual female public figure to be the face of PUMA’s new esports line. Additionally, she has worked tirelessly behind the scenes in the industry to provide more opportunities for those in underserved, underrepresented and marginalized communities, working with companies like Evil Geniuses, XSET and one of the largest video game publishers, Riot Games. Simon is also co-owner of one of the fastest growing esports organizations XSET. Within her role at the organization, she is helping to shape the culture of the organization to ensure the org has content and deep-rooted connections in music, entertainment and the gaming industry. Simon has been tapped by well-known brands and organizations such as AT&T, Riot Games, Bleacher Report, TBS, EA Sports, General Motors, Google Play, Tampax, Columbia Records, PUMA, Turtle Beach, Bacardi, Crown Royal, Forbes, Gen.G, Evil Geniuses, Cloud 9, The Wall Street Journal, University of Kentucky, Bleacher Report and more. As Simon’s career moves forward, she looks to continue to build the intersection between gaming and culture, paving a path forward for future generations. Learn more about Simon at erinsimon.com.

eSports

LEON Kicks Off Dota 2 Tournament – LEON Masters #1

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LEON is excited to announce the launch of its first-ever Dota 2 tournament, called LEON Masters #1. The event, organized with the support of GAM3RS_X, kicks off on June 10, 2024, and runs until July 28, 2024, featuring top teams from across Europe and CIS. The total prize pool is an impressive $100,000.

LEON Masters #1 is a thrilling online event structured in three main phases:

  • Group Stage #1 (June 10 – June 23, 2024): 16 teams will be split into two groups of 6 teams each. All matches will be played in a Bo2 (Best of 2) format. Group winners advance directly to the semifinals, teams placed 2nd to 5th move to the next group stage, and the last-placed teams are eliminated.
  • Group Stage #2 (July 15 – July 24, 2024): Teams are re-divided into two groups of 6 teams each. Matches remain in Bo2 format. The top two teams from each group will proceed to the quarterfinals, while the others are eliminated.
  • Playoffs (July 26 – July 28, 2024): The final stage will feature a single-elimination bracket, with all matches played in a Bo3 (Best of 3) format.

The prize pool distribution is as follows:

  • 1st place: $50,000
  • 2nd place: $25,000
  • 3rd-4th place: $12,500 each

Stay tuned for announcements and updates on our official channels. The first series of matches has already begun, including Twisted Minds vs. Kalmychata, L1GA TEAM vs. PSG Quest, and MOUZ vs. JustBetter. Full schedule and results will be available on the tournament’s website.

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Quick Fix Media Announces Strategic Partnership with ShiftRLE & Octane; ShiftRLE to Launch the Shift Summer League Featuring Rocket League

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Oxygen Esports (OXG) announced the establishment of Quick Fix Media (QFM), a new, independent esports content and media incubator. QFM’s charter provides material and strategic assistance to community-based esports news, content, and media outlets, to support their growth in esports coverage and community cultivation.

Alongside the public unveiling of QFM, the incubator announced its strategic partnership with ShiftRLE & Octane, a community stalwart and the preeminent source specializing in Rocket League news and industry-leading statistics. This move represents Quick Fix Media’s dedication to providing top-tier content to the esports community while contributing to the growth and advancement of the industry.

ShiftRLE, known for its independent and comprehensive Rocket League coverage, will continue to operate autonomously. It will be a key component of QFM’s expanding presence within the esports news media space, covering competitive esports news and statistical analysis. With its unparalleled statistical analysis and in-depth Rocket League reporting, ShiftRLE has established itself as a trusted resource for fans, players, and industry professionals.

ShiftRLE’s unique blend of news reporting and statistical insights has been instrumental in helping Rocket League enthusiasts stay informed, gain a deeper understanding of the game, and educate fans to continue to grow the community. As part of QFM, ShiftRLE will benefit from increased resources, expanded reach, and the flexibility to explore new opportunities while remaining true to its core mission.

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Backed by the commitment of QFM, ShiftRLE announced a new initiative, the Shift Summer League (SSL) featuring Rocket League. This new, league play event will feature the best Rocket League squads from Europe and North America competing for a $40,000 prize pool. The inaugural SSL will span July 9 to August 7 and will provide Rocket League players another opportunity to compete, and the fanbase with new original content, programming, and storylines in between the RLCS London Major and Rocket League World Championship. More details will be published directly by ShiftRLE in the coming days regarding participating teams, open qualifier formats, and tournament details.

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Midnight Gaming Corporation Enters into Venue Event Booking Services Agreement with Compass Arena

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Midnight Gaming Corporation announced that it has entered into a Venue Event Booking Services Agreement dated May 31st, 2024 with Compass Arena LLC (Compass). The agreement gives Midnight a five year exclusive service period to provide esports and gaming events, conventions, and tournaments to Compass.

Compass is a state of the art multi-purpose venue located just outside of Chicago in the city of Willowbrook, Illinois. The venue contains two full size indoor soccer fields, the Compass Café, Fair Play Sports Bar, The Whiskey Bar and a Premiere Lounge. Compass has held major marquee events including Thunder from Down Under and will be hosting both Jump Van Halen Tribute and Queen Nation concerts in the coming weeks. The venue has a capacity of over 3000 and, with internal Audio Visual, Staging, Lighting and Seating, is truly an optimal venue for esports and gaming events.

“This agreement really allows Midnight to bring our network of gaming communities to Compass. Compass truly is a World class venue and with everything included it truly is a paradise for any gaming, concert, or convention event. Not only are the venue and assets top of the line but with multiple food and beverage options we have a truly unique offering for anyone looking to host events in the Chicago area,” Ken McGraw, CEO of Midnight Gaming, said.

As part of the Agreement, Midnight is able to offer use of the venue at rates never before seen in the esports and gaming industry. This includes a no money up front agreement with a focus on revenue sharing to ensure a win for all involved.

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Ken added: “We know how hard it is for event operators to make money with the large up front costs associated with events. By removing this hurdle and risk we not only make Compass more enticing for potential partners but we share in the events success financially giving us more incentive to ensure everything is perfect.”

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