It’s harvest season for collegiate esports teams, and this weekend’s Hue Invitational, hosted by Harrisburg University, will determine if these kids are ready to farm, or become fertilizer under the combines of victory.
The Nerd St. Gamer sponsored online tournament will be a slugfest to victory for any team, a victory that comes with a sweet chunk of the $20,000 prize pool. At this point of the semester, many rosters are finalized, and Overwatch (OW) and League of Legends (LoL) teams have had three and four weeks of scrims since UCLA’s Summer Invitational (SI), with time to learn the methods of their opponents.
“Our group is definitely challenging with Columbia College and Maryville B (the only team with a strong B team), but if we play our own game we should be fine,” said Arizona State University (ASU) assistant coach and USC Senior narrative studies major Michael Ahn.
In regards to prize pool winnings, ASU would split the pot.
“If we ever win something we’re planning on splitting it between the players and also for the program since ASU does not get funding from the school,” said Ahn.
Not all teams have their rosters together though, and UCLA is still working on completing theirs while they participate in Hue’s OW bracket. USC won’t be participating, as they finalized their rosters after the registration deadline, according to LoL coach Joe Jacko and OW manager Quiana “jaru” Dang.
The competition will be fierce over on the LoL side of Harrisburg’s tournament. Maryville University still sits at the top, but it would be premature to count out teams like ASU and Michigan state who put up a strong show at SI, though Michigan didn’t look too great at the UC Irvine Best Coast LoL invitational two weeks ago, going 1-4 in the tournament.
Boise State played in the Best Coast tournament as well, and are looking to use the Hue tournament for a rematch opportunity, and to test their skills against top teams.
“We’re excited about the rematch against Western U from the UCI Best Coast tournament, and because we’ve got Maryville in our Bracket, we’re gonna have a chance to measure ourselves against them,” said Doc Haskell via the Boise State Twitter account.
Teams we haven’t seen for a little while, at least on the West Coast like Columbia College, Winthrop and Harrisburg might present a challenge for any top team. Columbia was technically first place in last semester’s CLoL championship, according to Liquipedia, before it was cut short due to COVID-19.
Winthrop and Harrisburg also appeared in a number of ESPN Top 25 LoL coaches polls, the most recent one - though February is far away at this point - showed Maryville, Columbia, Winthrop and Harrisburg at the top four positions.
The problem is, Maryville’s been making some of these teams, at least those from SI, look like beginners. They frolicked through their match against Michigan two weeks ago, the same Michigan who took out ASU in round three of SI. Michigan’s draft was weak, and Maryville pounced on the advantage by taking an immediate gold lead that only inflated as the game went on.
Even in the close final match against ASU they seemed to have control. The second game saw ASU push right up against Maryville’s base thanks to big plays from Mason “baekho” Choe, but Aiden “Niles” Tidwell, Maryville’s Top laner snuck through to grab the victory.
But who knows, maybe Columbia could provide a challenge, or a fully rostered, well scrimmed ASU could take their revenge. It’s also Harrisburg’s home turf. Online or not, it’s bound to have its advantages.
The Overwatch side is missing a key element, and that’s UC Irvine. They didn’t lose a single game in SI, wreaking havoc on every team they came across. Munkhdul “Platinum” Baterdene rained Pharah rockets from above as Seong Su “Stadium” Park lumbered his Reinhart to victory, taking down a formidable UT Dallas in the final match.
Their absence leaves a big hole to fill, with a few notable teams to look out for to take their place at the top. UCLA saw huge plays at their own tournament, coming out of John “YaBoiJJohnny” Walkiewicz and Grant “Grantissimo” Carroll. UT Dallas can’t be ignored either. They made it to the finals after beating UCLA 3-0 in the semis.
In addition to the tournament, Harrisburg is also hosting a networking event with panels and information sessions about the inner workings of the esports industry. It will take place today and tomorrow, all online due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The weekend will be packed with important matches, especially as Riot’s own collegiate LoL tournament, hosted in collaboration with PlayVS, begins its qualifying matches on September 29. The Overwatch Tespa preseason begins soon as well, beginning September 27.