The Collegiate Starleague (CSL) suspended all playoff matches on March 19 after the coronavirus began seriously affecting students around the country, writing in a statement that “With campuses across North America closing down and the re-location of students moving off-campus, this has greatly affected our ability to provide with certainty an equal competitive playing field for our players.”
The USC varsity League of Legends team had already finished their playoff run when the suspension hit, getting to the quarterfinals with wins against Ramapo College’s Red Velvet Roadrunners and Louisiana Tech University in the first two rounds. After going 2-0 against both, the Trojans faced their first hurdle against UT Austin’s Longhorn Gaming B Team in the top 16. Losing to UT Austin resulted in a match against McGill University’s Div I McGill XIX, which USC won.
The Trojans continued on to win against No. 1 UC Berkeley’s Cal Volibears 2-0, who won February’s Dreamhack Tournament. Afterward, they made their last stand against Northeastern, who came out on top, posting a 2-0 victory against USC.
The season may be over for the Varsity team, but Coach Joe Jacko is happy with the team’s performance this year.
“Joining the program in September 2019, I never would have anticipated being featured on ESPN, making a run for CLoL playoffs, going deep in the Collegiate Star League playoffs, or the outstanding ASU GSV tournament performance where we took down former conference champions.”
Junior Varsity is still in the running for the CSL Open tournament title, but it too got suspended.
“I have purposely adjusted my schedule and decided not to go back with my girlfriend over spring break to be ready for the upcoming CSL match,” said Dooroo "Diamond Flexer" Chung, a player on the team.
Now he’s in Los Angeles. Purposeless, he says.
But Chung is very confident in his team going into their quarterfinal match. “We’re going to win,” he said, but was apprehensive about League of Legends’ constant updates.
“They introduce new patches every two weeks, which changes the game entirely, and if one of these patches turns the game into our enemies favor then we might have a hard time. So this tournament being postponed actually sucks,” said Chung.
It seemed good for esports for a while, only marginally hindered by the outbreak. Due to the bulk of competitive gaming taking place online, players continued to play during the advent of the virus, with the only adjustment being a switch to online practices and completely virtual tournaments. But the volatility regarding college students living situations proved to be too disruptive for even a platform built for social distancing.
According to Brandon “Gunning” Gunning, the switch from live to virtual is not an easy one. “It is unfortunate [...] not being able to be in person with everyone as it provides a better level of communication which we've grown accustomed to this year,” said Gunning. “We generally have better team cohesion when we're all playing in person”
We will be watching for updates about the rest of the CSL season as more information becomes available.