This year, Goshen College added a new and relatively unique club to its roster of growing groups on campus: The League of Legends Video Game Club.
At the beginning of the year, James Garcia and ByeongChan Lim, seniors, and Bryan Nguyen, junior decided there was enough interest on campus to put together their own competitive team, and the club was born.
“We had always wanted to [create a club] since our sophomore year, but we didn’t think there was enough interest,” said Garcia. “Last semester we realized there was enough interest, so we asked Chad to be our club leader and he said yes.”
Chad Coleman, director of campus safety, was more than willing to take on leadership of the club.
“I thought it was a great idea and wanted to contribute to it,” he said. “I was once a computer gamer myself… In the early days, I was a regular in the Quake Arena Death Matches and played Team Fortress capture the flag at LAN [local access network] parties.”
League of Legends, or LoL, is one of the largest and most widely played video games in the world. Riot Games developed and published the game for PC in 2007 as a free to play MOBA, or multiplayer online battle arena. Since then, the game has skyrocketed in popularity around the globe, including a competitive professional league.
In LoL, each player controls their own character, or “champion,” which has their own strengths and weaknesses. Players assume positions on the map very similar to positions in other team sports, such as a forward in soccer or center in basketball. The goal of the game is to gain enough control of the map by encroaching on the opposing team’s territory until you can reach and destroy their “nexus,” in which the game is over. Games usually take up to 35-45 minutes, with competitive games being best two out of three.
Over the last six years, the League of Legends World Championship has held multiple tournaments with incredible amounts of viewership. The most recent Championship, which occurred this past October, saw a viewership of over 43 million unique viewers. The winner of the tournament, the team SK Telecom T1, won a pot of $6.7 million.
Currently, there are around 25 people in the GC club. Half of them come and go, while the other half play consistently. The group originally started out doing small tournaments between themselves. Then, out of the core group of gamers in the club, they developed a team which was entered in a collegiate LoL league, called uLoL. The collegiate games are sponsored by Riot Games.
Competition is stiff, per Garcia, but that is what adds to the thrill.
“The games are intense and taken pretty seriously,” he said. “Playing as a team leads to a lot more coordination and communication which makes it a lot more fun.”
“We played a game every Saturday at 3 p.m. and would sometimes play during the weekday where professional commentators would commentate our live game and our game would be streamed on twitch.tv and Youtube,” said Nguyen, who was responsible for registering the team.
Goshen’s LoL team is considered a Division I eSport. Because of this, the team regularly competes against large universities such as Indiana University, Berkeley and St. Louis.
“Since we play against such big schools, we have not performed as well as we’d like, but we haven’t lost them all,” said Nguyen.
To be on a school eSports team, there are still minimum requirements to play, just like any other sport. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and no prior misdemeanors. These rules are set forth by uLoL.
In terms of how it affects life on campus, Coleman sees it as a great benefit.
“[It’s a] great chance for like-minded students to engage in community over a common interest,” he said. “Gaming is healthy recreation when done with friends and is social.”
Garcia sees the club as a great avenue for students who may not have interest in other traditional clubs. “It definitely has allowed me to become friends with people that I normally wouldn’t have met so I think that’s a pretty big advantage of the club,” he said. “Gamers tend to get labeled as introverted, and I think this is a great avenue to socialize while doing something that interests you. Hopefully more clubs follow suit.”
The club will be hosting a pizza party before finals this semester to help relieve some of the stress, along with a few games of LoL.
For those interested in joining the League of Legends Club, contact James Garcia or Bryan Nguyen.