Conference standings from a couple weeks ago showed some turmoil in CLoL’s upper ranks. By the end of the regular season, however, the whales of college League of Legends breached the standings’ surfaces, and are heading to their respective conference playoffs starting March 13.
To no great surprise, Maryville, University of Houston, Arizona State and Harrisburg University took the top spots of their respective conferences after wins in Saturday’s Week 6 matches gave all of them perfect records. Maryville is a behemoth with two CLoL championships already under their belt, while Harrisburg, ASU and Houston are holding onto the formulas that took them far in the off season tournaments.
ASU hopes to win the West conference playoffs and make it to the round of 16 in the College Championship. Their chances against Maryville? Pretty bleak, even if they scrim every day.
“Maryville is a whole level above everyone else in CLoL,” said ASU coach Michael Ahn.
Maryville agrees, but has aspirations beyond the scope of the collegiate scene.
“We strive to be not only the best in collegiate but to be a top amateur team as well. Since CLoL was cancelled last year we like to consider ourselves the reigning champs and are looking to go back-to-back this year,” said Jordan Ousley, Maryville Esports’ director of media.
They’ll have a roster without the power of Aiden “Niles” Tidwell and Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson, but the shoes aren’t too big to fill, according to Ryan “Chippys” Short, Maryville’s new Top laner.
“There’s no pressure at all,” he said, “[Niles’] play style is similar to mine so it’s a comfortable spot to fill.”
In a couple weeks, university and college teams will compete against other playoff contenders - schools who won more than four of the six regular season games - for the title of conference champion.
After that, winners will proceed to a 32-school College Championship bracket in May, with “Teams qualifying from conference playoffs or at-large selection by the College Championship Selection Committee,” which is made up of a “panel of experts from the LCS and College LoL ecosystem, including Rioters, analysts, and industry professionals,” according to the Riot Scholastic Association of America (RSAA).
It’ll be the first College Championship in two years, after the 2020 championship was cancelled due to COVID.
There’s already a few familiar faces in the running this year, with Columbia College, Michigan State, Western University, University of Waterloo and the University of Illinois - all of whom made it to the final 8 in 2019 - already qualifying for their conferences’ playoff tournaments. A notable exception is UC Irvine, who’s reputable esports program failed to get their LoL team past the 4 win threshold.
Harrisburg’s HU Storm - the top seed in the East conference - isn’t focused on the May College Championships right now, instead channeling their energy on the coming conference playoff matches.
“Right now, we are expanding our champion pool and are continuing to work on our macro. We are improving at a very impressive rate and will be improving constantly throughout the conference playoffs,” according to Alex Chu, the Storm’s head coach.
For the teams who didn’t make playoffs, some of their players will at least walk away with a few superlatives for the history books. KÄYIË from Muskingum University tallied up 146 kills throughout the season, with Quackadoodledoo from Houston and 1azy from St. Claire not far behind with 142 and 135 kills respectively.
Another standout player was Josh “Xeno” Park from the University of Illinois, who had a high of 30 KDA, 7th in the nation, 9 CSPM, 1st in the nation, and achieved a 535 GPM (gold per minute), the highest of any player.
In regards to team KDA, the playoff contenders took home the top spots. Division One from the East conference had a peak of a 11.4 kill/death/assist ratio, with Harrisburg and Winthrop taking the second and third spots with 9.2 and 7.9 top KDAs respectively.
Kai’sa was by far the most picked champion across all four conferences, and Hecarim, Senna and Gailo were all very popular as well. Seraphine was far and away the most banned champion, though Udyr and Camille were frequently banned as well.
The next few weeks will be telling for teams looking to establish dynasties across the collegiate League of Legends landscape. Someone’s got to beat Maryville at some point right?