Exploring the League of Legends scene at Cal

Riot Games/Courtesy

Online games today are accessible to everyone, and gamers no longer fit the stereotype of a chubby, socially awkward Dungeons & Dragons fanatic rolling dice in his mom’s basement. No other game is a testament to global domination more than League of Legends, the PC game created by Riot Games — the most played game in the world, with an average of 27 million gamers playing each day. If you haven’t heard of League of Legends, with 7.5 million concurrent users at any given time, you’re missing out.

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2013 League of Legends Season 3 World Championships in Staples Center, Los Angeles

Of course, League of Legends at UC Berkeley is alive and well. The official LoL club on campus, Berkeley Legends, hosts viewing parties of major competitions, LAN nights and tournaments with prizes provided by Riot Games. UC Berkeley made a splash in the collegiate scene when it competed in the National League of Legends Collegiate Series. The competitions are serious business — the 2013 League of Legends World Championship had a grand prize of $1 million and 32 million viewers. The majority of gamers at UC Berkeley play casually with friends. The Daily Clog interviewed Danny Yan, the captain of UC Berkeley’s official LoL team, “Cal Me Maybe,” to understand the commitment required for competitive gaming. We also surveyed the other end of the spectrum and talked to casual gamers at UC Berkeley to understand why they play.

Playing League of Legends competitively demands hard work and dedication, just like any other sport. Yan said that last year, the team practiced five days a week for three hours per day. For practice, Cal Me Maybe queued together as a team of five and faced off against other premade teams in ranked games, where wins and losses are tracked to form a rating of each team. Funnily enough, they were often matched up against other collegiate teams.

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Professional gamers “Team SoloMid” playing in the North American Championship Series

“We fought through the west qualifier of over 100 teams and took the second-place qualifying spot. That got us in the round of 16, but we lost in group stages, taking third in our group. The top four of that tourney got to go to Riot Studios and play in front of a live crowd for a $100,000 prize pool,” Yan said. Only the top two teams of each group of four moved on to quarterfinals, so Cal Me Maybe was out. This year, Yan is looking for students who are at least ranked Diamond 3. To put it in perspective, players Diamond 3 and above are in the top 0.5 percent of the entire North American region. Yan himself was ranked in the top 50 players in North America earlier this season.

On the other hand, the majority of UC Berkeley students who play League of Legends play to have fun with friends, not to compete. “Find a group of friends you would enjoy playing with,” junior Connor Wake said. “It’s a team game, and it’s the most fun when you’ve got a group of people strategizing and working together or just messing around and having fun.”

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Riot Games representatives visit a LAN night hosted by Berkeley Legends

Most people play a few times a week, instead of training consistently like the UC Berkeley League of Legends team does. “I used to play every day, but now that I hit Gold, I only play with friends or maybe once every few days,” junior Shrayus Gupta said. Once Gupta achieved his goal of Gold rank, which is about the top 20 percent of North America, he felt League of Legends was more about bonding time with friends than the grind to win.

For junior Scott Lee, however, League of Legends isn’t just a game to play casually.”I play because of the competitive nature and because it’s a fun game to play with friends and kill time,” Lee said. This combination of a hugely competitive game and a fun game to play with friends is the reason that League of Legends is so popular around the world and here at UC Berkeley.

Image Sources: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4

Contact Katy Yuan at [email protected].