NACE Starleague FAQ
| Wednesday, July 07th, 2021 |

NACE Starleague FAQ

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NACE has announced a multi-company partnership with CSL Esports, Nerd Street, North America’s largest esports infrastructure company, and Mainline, the leading software company in collegiate esports, to establish NACE Starleague, which will become the largest collegiate esports league in North America with more than 14,500 students from 600 colleges and universities.


How does this partnership impact coaches and directors?

The main difference you will see is the opportunity to compete in more esports, with different divisions and on a new platform. Items we were already planning on for this coming academic year. 

How does this partnership impact the NACE national office?

Not much has or will change. We are still led by our members and its elected representatives. On competition we will work with CSL Esports teams to help operate competition. 

What are we providing through this partnership?

  • Two Competitive Seasons Per Year (Fall and Spring), each with prizing and respective championship events
  • Three different divisions of competition encompassing different types of esports programs and skill-levels
  • Awards ceremony celebrating the best in collegiate esports from the previous year 
  • Peer Oversight – Critical decision-making by schools, for schools
  • Schools will now be directly involved (through elected member groups) in defining our competitive structure and rulesets, resolving code of conduct violations, and more.
  • More league broadcasts and coverage
  • Return to in-person play in partnership with Nerd Street Gamers

 Current NACE Members

If you’re already a NACE member you’re immediately eligible for Varsity and do not have to go through the verification process. Playfly Sports will provide the support for non-NACE institutions participation in NACE Starleague. 

Did NACE acquire or merge with anyone?

No, NACE is a 501(c)(3) – so we can’t be bought nor can we merge with for-profit organizations. Nor are we interested in that. NACE as a body is a representative voice of the institutions in the space and we take that very seriously. This partnership is one year in length with each organization contributing services and support to create something great, but each organization is still its own entity. 

Divisions of Play

The Varsity Division will feature school-sanctioned esports programs dedicated to the highest level of competition.

  • NACE member or affiliate status required
  • Limited to one team entry per title for each school
  • Scholarship prizing
  • Live Grand Finals Event each semester
  • Highly competitive


The Challenger division will be the highest level of competition for free-to-play leagues. 

  • Challenger is the best place for student-athletes who are aspiring to progress into the Varsity division to begin playing for scholarship opportunities. 
  • Ideal base level to help new up-and-coming esports programs develop and evolve
  • Prizing for the Challenger Division will vary per game title. 
  • Schools will be allowed multiple teams per title.


The Open Division is a place for all gamers to enjoy the thrills of esports competition. From groups of friends to newly formed teams.

  •    Free for all teams to enter and begin their esports journey or just play just for fun.  
  •    Schools will be allowed multiple teams per title (no limit in Open league)

Key Dates

Fall Registration:

  • Varsity: Begins August 3rd
  • Challenger and Open: Begins early September

New tournament platform 

All NACE Starleague matches will be run on the Mainline tournament platform, the preferred collegiate esports tournament software platform in North America. 

Changes to School Eligibility

  • The Star division is now the Varsity division. 
  • In addition to the standard academic eligibility requirements identified below, all schools competing in the Varsity division must meet specific qualifications to participate pertaining to full-time student status and administrative contacts.

For the 2021-2022 Fall and Spring seasons, all schools that competed in the 2020-2021 CSL Esports’ “Star” division will be eligible for NACE varsity competition, funded by Playfly Sports. Some restrictions apply. Each school only needs to be verified one time (not for each team).

To be eligible for the varsity division, schools are required to have an employee of the College or University as one of their designated points of contact. This could be a faculty advisor, an athletic director or coach, or some other equivalent school administrator. It may not be a student.

Current NACE Members

If you’re already a NACE member you’re immediately eligible for Varsity and do not have to go through the verification process. Playfly Sports will provide the support for non-NACE institutions participation in NACE Starleague.

NACE Affiliates

NACE Affiliates These are non-NACE member Institutions that meet the above requirement for eligibility in the varsity division.

Who can play?

NACE Starleague is open to full-time “good standing” students enrolled at accredited colleges or universities in the US and Canada. The definition of “full-time” and “good standing” is determined on a per school basis, but typically is the equivalent of at least 12 credit hours per semester and a 2.0 GPA. Some exceptions apply. Eligibility requirements apply to all divisions of play.

Is NACE Starleague a Governing Body?

No, NACE Starleague is not a governing body. We will provide a clear structure and direction regarding eligibility, tournament operations, and league oversight. We strictly adhere to all Community Guidelines and the rights given to us via publishers and IP holders.

Is NACE Starleague trying to obtain full game exclusives from publishers?
No, NACE Starleague believes that everyone should be able to play whatever games they want, hence we will always have free options for teams to join.