This article was originally published in Pablo Calvi’s Multimedia Journalism workshop
Cornell joins League of Legends
Eight students at Cornell University are representing their school at a collegiate tournament for the popular video game “League of Legends” after qualifying for the tournament on Sept. 22.
“League of Legends” is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games. Players form into two teams of five champions and battle each other while stationed at opposing sides of a map near a building called a nexus.A nexus is destroyed by fighting and taking down a series of turrets placed along a path to each base until they reach the nexus.
A match is won when either team’s nexus is destroyed. This past July, Riot Games was able to bring a level of professionalism to their game when the U.S. Visa Bureau recognized “League” as a legitimate sport. This allowed international players to obtatin work visas to compete in the World Finals held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center Friday Oct. 4.
Collegiate play, however, has been heavily advertised by Riot Games. The big collegiate tournament, known as “Ivy Lol” began Sept. 20 with representative colleges across the country.
Cornell University is one of those represented schools, but Cornell’s team was not always competitive for the collegiate tournament. Brian “Atrodex” Bao said that the team was in ruins after the graduation of three players last year, but after contacting the team’s former leader and organizing the local scene, he was able to revive the team.
Bao says “I took it upon myself to try and gather team members together and reform the Ivy LoL team because I had always wanted to join some sort of amateur [or] professional team…. I figured it would be a good experience for me as a freshman to both meet new upperclassmen and gain some sort of skill.”
Cornell University’s team has competed in the “Ivy Lol” tournament for three years now, placing third overall in the first tournament. While the players on the team have changed because of members graduating, the current Cornell team was able to take the eigth seed in their division and is eager to face their next opponent in the upcoming weeks.
But Bao and teammates cannot always participate in games, so less experienced players must fill in for him. This is managed by substitutes on the team who, according to teammate Chris “Slowreactor” Song, “are more skilled than me. However, due to time constraints, they cannot fully commit to the team, and are only active on the team as subs.”
Tony “PurpleRoo” Xia of Cornell’s team and Bao both agree that the chance to go pro is both highly lucrative and enticing.
“Two or three years of getting your name out as a professional League player in a growing game is more valuable than finishing college,” said Xia. “College will always be there; [but] this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.
This is because professional players like Marcus “Dyrus” Hill reported an annual income of over $67,000. Contracts’, streaming their practice matches via “Twitch” and sponsorships through various computer companies make the bulk of pro players income.
With less than a week before the World Finals for “League,” open league is streaming now at Ivy Lol and will continue until November 16.
Robert Rivera is a senior journalism major who thinks his articles and cartoons for Buzzsaw are legendary. Email him at rrivera1[at]ithaca.edu.