Cal League of Legends surges to meet new season, sweeps Seattle

League of Legends video game cards displayed on a desktop computer screen.
Julia Shen/Staff

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In 1917, the Bolshevik Party seized control of the Russian Empire and created Soviet Russia, the world’s first Marxist-Leninist state.

By the late 20th century, Communist rule had been established over more than one-third of the world’s population, and its influence spread to the United States; then-California governor Ronald Reagan labeled UC Berkeley “a haven for communist sympathizers.”

On Saturday, a very different kind of red tide appeared as Cal’s collegiate League of Legends team swept Seattle University Esports 2-0, using only red-colored champions and skins. The Blood Moon theme was the most common, appearing twice on Pyke and once on Kalista, and Vladimir was the only base skin to be used.

Cosmetic appearances aside, the match marked the first games of the official 2019 College League of Legends season.

Cal has spent the past few months practicing in the Collegiate Starleague preseason tournament, learning how to work with the newcomers to the team (top laner Patrick “LegendAchiever9” Visan, jungler Lawrence “eXyu” Xu, and marksman Steven “Issys Cutie” Dai).

“For the past couple of years, the team has been pretty consistent in terms of who’s on it, but since half the team is new now, we did drastically change what we focus on as players,” said Cal support and team captain Robert “Roflcopter” Lemons. “We’re not so early-game focused, and our team compositions are very different.”

Neither game was particularly close, with game one ending in less than 20 minutes. The uneven matchup came as no surprise, as Seattle’s individual rankings were on average about three divisions lower than those of the Cal team.

Aggressive ganks in game one from Xu’s Lee Sin led to an early lead for Cal’s bot lane. The Bears’ team-fighting ability proved stronger as well, with Visan hitting a four-man Slicing Maelstrom to close the first match.

Game two showed some unconventional picks from Cal, with Aaron “isthatthem” Olguin on Katarina in the mid lane and Dai playing Yasuo bot. Early mid lane 1v1s went in Seattle’s favor. In the top lane, however, Visan steadily built up a lead, solo-killing the Seattle top laner several times.

Despite a more even footing than in the first match, Seattle had failed to take a single tower by the time Visan and Xu teamed up to destroy their top inhibitor. A pentakill for Olguin’s Katarina ended the game at 23 minutes.

Although the off-meta champions were entertaining to watch, they most likely will not make future appearances, as the Swiss-style bracket will make every future matchup more difficult.

Even with a relatively uncontested victory under its belt, Cal is preparing for a challenge. The Bears will compete against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos next Saturday as they hope to continue their strong start.

“I think we were just trying to have fun. If we had lost, it would have been deeply concerning, but it wasn’t close,” Lemons said. “All I know is it’s going to get a lot, lot harder in about two weeks.”

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