Teamwork, strategy, and communication, culminating on a field of play to beat out an opponent in a hard-fought competition. This may sound like NFL Sunday, a rubber match or a playoff battle on the court, but for a group of students at Sheridan participating in the school’s newest intramural, it all comes to life online.
League of Legends, or simply “League” as it’s referred to by its fans, is a multiplayer, action real-time strategy video game developed in 2009 by Riot Games. Five players make up a team, each controlling one character with unique abilities. Teams face off against others from around the world in matches that typically last between 30 minutes and an hour. Whichever team destroys its opponent’s home base first wins and achieves League Points, which contribute to your ranking.
Its popularity has exploded around the world in recent years. Stats show that 27-million people play League every day, 7.5 million simultaneously at peak hours[i]. Tournaments featuring professional League players – who are sponsored and train full-time with a coach – look more like a concert than a game that can be played from the comfort of your home. Fans fill stadiums to the brim, eager to see the players who in their eyes, have reached celebrity status. In some tournaments, millions of dollars in prize money is on the line.
But why all the fanfare? Matthew Rempel, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Sheridan, who is a founder of the e-sport initiative at Sheridan and volunteers his time as an organizer, explains: “In addition to being fun to play, it’s really fun to watch. The game plays out from a birds-eye view and the ability as a viewer to jump to where the action is on screen makes it accessible to non-players.” A quick YouTube search for League of Legends games between top-ranked players yield videos with more than five-million views.
“In addition to being fun to play, it’s really fun to watch” – Matthew Rempel
While accessible to a wide audience, to become good, “Challenger”-level good, well-developed gaming skills are needed. “You need strong mechanics and the ability to control and fully understand your character,” explains Adam McInnis, a Sheridan Business Administration – Marketing graduate, First Year Connections Peer Mentor and one of the intramural organizers. “You also need impeccable game sense, which means understanding where the enemy is, when you should get an objective, and where you should fight on the map.”
Pilot events in 2014 at Davis, Hazel McCallion and Trafalgar Campuses proved that there is an appetite for League at Sheridan. North American colleges and universities are warming up to the legitimacy of eSports in the school domain, and Sheridan’s Director of Athletics, Jim Flack, echoed this sentiment. “He is very open minded about the evolution of sport and doing what makes sense for students,” says Rempel. “It’s all about engagement and having students leave Sheridan with a positive impression about the innovative and creative opportunities available to them.” With sponsorship from the Athletics Department, support of Sheridan Recreation and Fitness Coordinator Nadene Booth, and fellow League organizers Michael Thornton, and Adam McInnis, a formal intramural was launched.
“Not many other colleges are showing this level of support for gaming on campus. One of Sheridan’s core brand identities is ‘gutsy,’ and embracing eSports in this way is definitely a gutsy move” – Adam McInnis
The League of Bruins has been running since September 2015 and students play moderated games once a week. The response has been positive, and there’s hope that Sheridan can one day field a team that trains together to participate in bigger tournaments. At an institution that teaches game design, computer programming, and animation, organized eSports seems like a natural step. “Not many other colleges are showing this level of support for gaming on campus,” says McInnis. “One of Sheridan’s core brand identities is ‘gutsy,’ and embracing eSports in this way is definitely a gutsy move.”
For more information on the League of Bruins and to learn how to get involved, visit: https://sheridanleagueofbruins.wordpress.com/.
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Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.