Cal League of Legends prepares for 2019 collegiate season

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The Summoner’s Cup currently resides on the other side of the world, with the top international teams competing in the twilight of the 2018 League of Legends, or LoL, season. But here at Cal, a new year is just getting started.

With half of its former starting players a part of last year’s graduating class, the Cal League of Legends team recently concluded tryouts for its 2019 College LoL roster.

Perhaps most notably, the departure of marksman Christopher “Turkeymaster” Tsai opened a considerable void, breaking apart the team’s longtime bot lane.

The new Division I roster includes top laner Patrick “LegendAchiever9” Visan, jungler Lawrence “eXyu” Xu, mid laner Aaron “isthatthem” Olguin, marksman Steven “Nobodys Cutie” Dai and support Robert “Roflcopter” Lemons. Nathan “Longan Milk Tea” Yu, the former starting jungler, will fill the substitute position.

New teams have also been created for Division 2 (Platinum ranked and above) and Division 3 (Gold ranked and below) competitive LoL. While these teams don’t play for a national title, D2 will be competing for a $10,000 prize pool in the Collegiate Starleague’s (CSL) Junior Varsity 1 League.

Of the five starters for the Division I team, only Olguin and Lemons have experience at the DI level. Although a lack of synergy could become a liability, Lemons — who also serves as the team’s captain — believes the new roster has the ability to go far, particularly with the mechanical skill of Xu and the improved champion pool of Visan.

“I think our team will have a lot more flexibility than last year, where we were confined to mostly split-push comps. Now we can run something more aggressive and faster in the mid game than before,” Lemons said. “In terms of raw, mechanical potential, I think this team is quite ahead of last year’s, but we really have to see how these (players) will mesh.”

Many other teams in the College LoL West Conference lost senior competitors as well, evening the playing field for 2019.

“It looks like the gap between the teams has largely shrunk,” Lemons said. “I think we’re ahead of some of the teams we used to be behind.”

The Division I team will be playing in two tournaments this school year, starting with the College LoL preseason league, hosted by the CSL. Taking place from mid-October to early January, the preseason league will give the new roster some much-needed practice together before the official 2019 College LoL Tournament kicks off Jan. 14.

The future certainly looks bright for Cal League of Legends. With an entire three-month preseason to polish its new talent, the only direction the team can go is up.

Julia Shen covers esports. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @yinglol.