University League of Legends: The Future is Bright


League of Legends is growing.  And it’s growing fast. The first ever College League of Legends Championship between two varsity programs (programs that offer full or partial scholarships) took place this year (2018) when UC Irvine (UCI) beat Colombia College (CC), 3-0.  In previous years, the championship featured at least one team that was not considered varsity.  Last year Maryville was the first varsity program to win the College Championship when they beat University of Toronto, 3-1. Is League of Legends the real deal or just a fad?  It’s definitely too early to tell, but it IS GROWING, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.

This year’s College League of Legends Championship took place at Riot’s own studio in Los Angeles, Sunday, June 10th between UC Irvine and Columbia College. UC Irvine had no interest in making this a close series as they swept Columbia College, 3-0.

Here is the brief:

The 1st game:

UCI’s solo laners, Cpt Nuke and Descraton, playing Gnar and Swain, respectively, carried this game

UCI: Even game until minute 16 when UCI completed a successful 2 for 1 botlane play

UCI: From there UCI started the steamroll on to an eventual 20k gold lead win 


The second one:

UCI: Fast-paced, nail-biter until around 31 minutes when UCI’s mid-laner, Descraton took over

UCI: followed up with a successful dragon take and subsequent team fight win at 16:00

UCI: Descraton, this time on the Zoe finished with a 90% kp.

CC: This time CC had the Swain, and this time they started off well with a successful 2 for 1 toplane play at 11:30

CC: A successful botlane Rift Herald play around 14:30 minute

The 3rd match:

UCI: Level 2 First blood by Descraton’s Zoe set the tone for the game

UCI: Once again Descraton and his Zoe were too much to handle for CC

CC: A couple decent fights by Columbia College around Baron made what was otherwise a stomping seem close

UCI: Cruised on to a 15k gold lead win



So who are these newly crowned College Champions?  Well for starters they are pretty good at League of Legends.  In fact, three of their starters were former professional League of Legends players (2).  

They are:

  • Youngbin “Youngbin” Jung
    • Former Team Liquid substitute
    • Jungler
  • James “Lattman” Lattman
    • Former Team Dignitas substitute
    • ADC
  • Lyubomir “BloodWater” Spasov
    • Former Counter Logic Gaming player
    • Support

They play for a truly progressive institution at UC Irvine.  On September 23, 2016, UC Irvine opened the first eSports arena at a public university.  As of 2016 this arena “consists of 80 custom PCs from iBUYPOWER and a live webcasting studio to broadcast to millions of viewers. Proper congratulations are due to the UC Irvine team and campus for winning this year’s League of Legends College Championship, and their investment into the future of video gaming is paying off.

You can find out more about UC Irvine’s eSports Arena here:

How big can it get?  In 2014 Robert Morris University (Illinois) created the first Varsity collegiate League of Legends program.  Today there are around 50 Varsity collegiate eSports programs, and video games are no longer just a hobby. eSports are real sports in the sense, that they offer rewards to the players for excelling at them, and the games are entertaining enough for fans to watch.   Unfortunately, we have no clue how big this can get because we’ve never seen it before. Never in the past 150 years has technology been so advanced to allow real-time viewing of people playing around the world. Not to mention the game itself is such a fast paced game of complicated inputs in a subjectively spectacular visual fashion.  Traditional sports like basketball and football went from being small, mostly friendly sports to massive industries of entertainment in the matter of 150 years. Prior to the 1850s sports for entertainment was largely nonexistent. For League of Legends the future is unknown, but it currently looks like bright.