The uLoL Championships just concluded. Maryville University took the win over the University of Toronto, 3-1. This year the uLoL series featured a smattering of teams from across nation and finally culminated in Maryville’s victory Sunday. The uLoL series is gaining traction in its second year with more teams and viewers than the last season. The series will likely see similar types of growth next year. For the competitive League community in general, this is exactly the kind of growth the scene needs. The growth of the college scene will open many avenues for the future of competitive play.
The uLoL series will have a huge impact on the NA LCS in the coming seasons. This will be especially true with NA LCS moving towards franchising. If NA decides to franchise, it will be the end of the Challenger scene. This means that the uLoL series will be the only extended series of competitive play outside of the LCS. This will make uLoL a great recruiting ground for LCS orgs. The ability to see players in a team environment competing onstage in high pressure situations will be a great indicator to how they will perform on the big stage in LCS. As the uLoL series begins to improve, and collegiate teams improve, LCS teams will look more and more towards the collegiate teams for potential rookies.
Even if the NA LCS doesn’t franchise, the uLoL series will be considered a scouting ground by NA orgs. Challenger Series teams will look to pick up a player that might give them the edge they need to break into the LCS.
With the likelihood of uLoL becoming a scouting ground, it will become a viable avenue for trying to enter the LCS. This will encourage more players to play in the uLoL series. It will also encourage more people to watch competitive league. People will want to support their schools and friends, which may lead to them watching games. As a result, more people will watch competitive games and play at a competitive level.
It will also cause League to enter a niche spot in campus culture. This will encourage a cultural shift around the game. More people will gather to watch, and attend events. More will want to keep up with esports because their school is a part of the scene. uLoL will provide that geographical tie-in to the competitive League scene. Not to mention more and more money is being funneled into scholarship opportunities for League of Legends players. Schools are starting to invest into recruiting players, and the more money involved the more competitive the scene will be.
The popularity that will be garnered in the college scene will propel the entirety of competitive League. This will allow League of Legends to stay around longer as an esport. If more people want to watch competitive games, it will grow.
It’s no secret that NA has struggled on an international level. The region has fallen short year after year and has only reached the semis of a riot-hosted international event once since the creation of LCS. The uLoL series could change that. If it grows to be a major scene of competition, it could improve players that enter into the LCS and then those players will go on to compete internationally. This improvement will come from competing in a team environment before entering LCS. The stigma of transitioning from solo queue to competitive will not be as big of an issue. This is because players from uLoL will be used to playing in a competitive team environment, where they must communicate. The shot calling and macro will be improved too, because players will have had more practice in these types of environments.
In short, the uLoL scene will be a major recruiting and training ground for NA players. This will increase the amount of native talent. It will also improve the infrastructure of NA as a whole. The scene is also the first step towards the cultural shifts we need as a region to compete with the eastern regions.
Photos via Lolesports flikr