Cal League of Legends freezes out UC Santa Barbara

Two rows of video game cards
Riot Games/Courtesy

The past few days in Berkeley have been unusually cold, with temperatures reaching lows that are keeping plenty of students indoors. Some might say this is because of things such as “air pressure” and “frontogenesis,” but consider this — perhaps it’s all the Glacial Prisons and Flash Frosts that have been thrown at the Cal College League of Legends team recently.

These ice-themed abilities were used by UC Santa Barbara’s jungler and mid laner (playing Sejuani and Anivia, respectively) in their matchup against Cal. Snow particles covered the in-game map, ostensibly causing this recent cold front.

Whether you believe League of Legends champions control the weather or not, last weekend was a good one for Cal, as the team beat UC Santa Barbara 2-0 in the second week of the collegiate season.

Coming off of winter break without much practice under their belts, the Bears anticipated a tough game.

“On paper, we were favored against them, but when you’re not practiced, you’re much more liable to lose unexpected games. But we weren’t as rusty as we thought,” said team captain and support player Robert “Roflcopter” Lemons. “As it turns out, the break wasn’t as bad as we predicted in terms of loss of team synergy.”

The first half of game one was tense, but Cal was able to edge out a lead in every large teamfight, surviving with slivers of health even when suddenly outnumbered by an enemy teleport or roam.

“We have a tendency to sometimes be a little overzealous in fighting and not account for map cooldowns,” Lemons said. “Those are the kind of slip-ups that we fix very quickly when we play more frequently.”

The game swung heavily in Cal’s favor after the team secured two consecutive aces against UCSB. In a last attempt to defend their base, several UCSB players wasted key ultimate abilities (most notably Sejuani’s Glacial Prison), and the ensuing teamfight went to Cal.

Jungler Lawrence “eXyu” Xu had a particularly good performance on Karthus, dealing nearly 40 percent of the team’s total damage and ending the game with 14 kills.

“(Xu) likes to call pretty aggressive early game, which is expected for the jungler. He’s trying to follow the entire map the entire time, so he has the most information,” Lemons said. “It becomes a bit more democratic later in the game, but early on, we do rely on him.”

Game two was all downhill for UCSB; although Cal again found itself in a few unfavorable fights because of miscommunication, the Gauchos could not seem to take advantage of the battles they were winning. The Bears freely roamed the enemy jungle, securing objectives and kills as they pleased.

A 20-minute pick on the UCSB jungler by Cal mid laner Aaron “isthatthem” Olguin gave Baron to the Bears once again, and they ran down UCSB’s bot lane to end the game soon after.

Even with recurring communication issues, Cal had no trouble defeating UCSB in two games. But the same mistakes won’t fly in the team’s upcoming match against UC San Diego, the third-place finishers of 2018’s College League of Legends West Conference.

“I just hope we beat them because we’ve lost to them two years in a row, and I’d rather not make it three,” Lemons said.

With any luck, Cal is all warmed up despite the cold outside. A win against UCSD would be the perfect touch on the team’s great start to the 2019 season.

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