Several weeks ago, the University of Chicago League of Legends (LoL) team, North Fine Dining, participated in the University League North Region Spring Championship. The Maroons were among 32 other university-backed teams competing for the title and the chance to advance to the national championship. UChicago received a bye in the Round of 32 due to their performance during the regular season and convincingly dispatched UC Vaapad from the University of Cincinnati in the Sweet 16. Unfortunately, their momentum was not enough to carry them further, as they lost their subsequent Elite Eight and consolation matches.
The LoL team is part of the broader eSports RSO and receives funding from the school as well as the Student Engagement Fund. Other games include the highly popular Starcraft and Super Smash Bros. Here in the College, the LoL group features both competitive and casual players, with the more serious and often better gamers playing in an official league. The “A team” consists of five starters and one substitute, determined through tryouts, and competes in the North American University League of Legends. Currently, fourth-year Stephen Yu leads the team as coach, with first-year David Matz, second-year David Chao, third-years Chris Sun and Jonathon Hsu, and fourth-years Hanson Yu and Andrew Wang representing UChicago on the battleground. Additionally, North Fine Dining has a game analyst, third-year Evan Lustick, who analyzes previous games, scouts future opponents, and provides valuable insight for the team.
In this league, any university can only have one team play. The regular season starts in late fall, with the playoffs culminating near the end of winter quarter. During the season, there are six teams in a group who compete head-to-head. The possessor of the best record at the end advances to their respective regional championship, sponsored by Riot Games—in our case, the North Region Championship. North Fine Dining will practice two or three days each week for three hours and play an official match each weekend while in season. Because of the lack of school-provided eSport resources at the moment, the players have to play remotely and talk through a third-party communication app for both practices and games.
In its first game at the North Region Championship against UC Vaapad, the team was able to pick a composition that generally works well together and becomes exponentially better as the game progresses.
Chao commented, “We chose a team that we knew gelled well together and [had] huge potential past the beginning stages of the game. The opponent didn’t do anything to stop the momentum, and we were able to win quickly.”
However, in the second and third games, the opponents were able to identify their strategy and blocked them from using two out of the three champions they wanted to use.