League of Legends club hopes to gain momentum on campus

Tim Peckham remembers being two years old and playing Super Mario 64. He’s been playing video games ever since then and is now the president of the League of Legends club at the University of Oregon.

The “League” club at UO is growing. After losing many members last year, Peckham and Tanner Peterson, club vice president, are focusing this year on rebuilding the club and making it known around campus. Part of the effort to rebuild the club includes having competitive matches with other university League clubs.

League is a multiplayer online battle arena created by Riot Games in 2009. Last year’s worldwide championships in China had a total of 73,552,808 streams, according to ESPN’s Esports Charts.

The League club meets every even-numbered week on Thursdays at 7 p.m., and they suggest bringing a laptop. The next meeting, Feb. 1, will be in the EMU in room 023. The League club has matches every Saturday that anyone can stream for free on the UO’s Twitch page.

The rebuilding effort comes after losing members last year, Peckham said. “But we’re really focusing on putting the pieces back together this year.”

League has gained so much global popularity, with money following, that there was a $4.6 million prize pool for the 2017 championship, according to the League website.

The club gained a boost of attention over winter break from ESPN Esports when they coordinated a league match-up with Boise State University that coincided with the Vegas Bowl. The match was broadcast on Boise State’s Twitch page, a website similar to YouTube. Peckham estimated a hundred live views during that competition.

Twitch is the livestream gaming website that all university League clubs use to broadcast matches to viewers.

According to Peckham, it’s been difficult to recruit new members for the club due to the lack of tabling opportunities compared to fall term. Last term, there were up to 50 students at meetings, but after the rooms for meetings have been switched back and forth, the club is down to about 10 students.

Last term, the club held auditions for its varsity and junior varsity teams, and its competition schedule coincides with the NCAA basketball season. This is the first season that UO has had competitive League teams.

“There’s the regular season, which started Jan. 15,” Peterson said. “There’s the north, south, east and west conference, also the Big Ten Network and the Peach Belt. We all compete in these conferences and it’s swiss format,” Peterson explained. Swiss format is when the first-ranked teams play the last-ranked, until only two teams remain.

Matches are against other five-person university League club teams and are best of three. On Saturday, UO’s Varsity team played Pasadena City College, where UO swept the series 2-0. The Varsity team consists of Jared Lawrence (Top), Feiran Chen (Jungle), Sam Cohen (Mid), Triston Rostocil (Bot) and Peterson (Support).

“We’re connected with every university in the Pac-12, and we talk to them directly and say, ‘Hey, do you guys want to play?’” Peckham said.

More than just video games

Peckham is a senior marketing major and Peterson is a junior computer science major. Together, they coordinate with other schools about matches or other events they would like to have, like the special match with Boise State.

After graduating, Peckham would like to work in marketing in Esports. Peckham said that while he’s been playing League for over five years, it’s not his favorite video game, and being part of this club is more like learning how to run an Esports business, which he’s hoping will lead him to his career.

Peckham’s favorite League champion is Thresh, who is a support champion that can throw chains out to grab from afar. Peckham has a personal rank of gold, and he’s been playing since his sophomore year of high school. Collegiate matches do not affect personal League ranks.

University of California – Irvine, Columbia College, University of Jamestown and the University of Utah are some of the more than 30 schools across the country that offer Esports scholarships and recruitment programs for student gamers.

“Some schools have varsity programs where kids get scholarships, have faculty dedicated to their Esports teams and a computer lab or an arena that they go to,” said David Gugliotti, a UO sports business graduate student that helps run the League club.

“Based on the work that I am doing,” Gugliotti said, “we’re going to be getting support, space and recognition much sooner than later from the university.”

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Rylee Kahan

Rylee Kahan

Rylee Kahan is a News Reporter for The Daily Emerald. She is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and loves late-night coffee runs.