From the WWE to eSports, and from legendary Brock Lesnar to League of Legends, SportsCenter is “undertaking” a unique weekend of coverage.
Anchor Jonathan Coachman will be at Barclays Center in Brooklyn where Lesnar and The Undertaker headline Sunday’s WWE SummerSlam, while SportsCenter contributor Will Reeve will be at the North American Finals of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) at Madison Square Garden, reporting from that day’s eSports matinee in Manhattan.
“This is an entertainment event and will showcase some of the best athletes in the world,” said Coachman, a former WWE commentator. “We’re not doing this to tell fans who won or lost each match, we want to show the atmosphere and the passion that SummerSlam and WWE have.”
“I know the numbers attached to League of Legends are staggering — in terms of both gamers and fans as well as the money involved in the whole enterprise,” Reeve said. “Gaming is not a fad or passing phenomenon, so I’m prepared to encounter a rabid fan base with a deep knowledge of, and fervor for, League of Legends.”
While “Coach” has a history with his Sunday event, which has a deep history of its own, Reeve’s insight into his activity is growing as quickly as eSports itself.
“It means a lot to me to be able to go back to an organization I worked with for so long and have such great memories with – I’m through the roof,” Coachman said of returning to the WWE where he spent nearly a decade as commentator, working with such talent as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker.
Reeve said: “Admittedly, my gaming experience is confined to first-person sports games like ‘Madden’, ‘FIFA’, ‘NHL’, etc., but I was immediately intrigued by the assignment because I’m aware of the passionate culture surrounding games like League of Legends. I’ve been preparing by trying to immerse myself in the League of Legends culture, as well as the broader gaming culture. There are hours and hours of documentaries and tutorials and highlights on the Internet, so I’ve been going through those.
“While ESPN viewers may not be familiar with League of Legends, this fan base is just like any other: smart, informed, and, at times, rabid – in addition to the gaming that everyone is there to watch, many fans will be dressed as their favorite League of Legends characters,” Reeve said. “I mean, selling out MSG? That’s awesome! I can’t wait to experience it. It’ll be louder than a Knick game, that’s for sure.”
“You don’t have to love professional wrestling, but this is another opportunity for SportsCenter to be part of a big event and serve fans with something a little different,” Coachman said. “If you have a problem with us covering it, get over it! The world is changing – this isn’t 1985 anymore – and I’m proud to say SportsCenter recognizes that.”
In the video above, Lesnar – during a recent visit to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters – talks about working with the network, his impending on-air reunion with Coachman (including possible dire consequences involving a trip to “Suplex City”) and makes a prediction for SportsCenter’s highlight-cutting team.
Video produced by Ben Cafardo and Jon McLeod