As of this academic year, Valpo is home to an eSports team competing in different PC games, such as Rocket League and League of Legends. Rocket League had their official competition in the fall, going 4-6 overall, ultimately falling in a competitive match against Boise State. Rocket League will begin their spring season later this February and compete twice weekly.
League of Legends officially began their season this January in CLoL, or the Collegiate League of Legends. They are currently 1-1 following a loss to Northern Kentucky University and a win against the University of Jamestown. Over 400 schools compete in the CLoL.
Valpo competes remotely from the eSports lab on campus on Saturdays. Valpo’s stream can be accessed on their Twitch account via @valpoesports.
“We try to anytime we have an actual competitive match get it up and stream on Twitch with broadcasters and production crew and everything there,” said Associate Director of Recreational Sports, Tristan Leonhard. “You know, we don't necessarily stream our scrimmages, because we don't give up our strategies.”
ESports now has a production team of about ten students that manage streaming.
“Our last match this past Saturday just looked phenomenal, you know, and that's all credit to the entire team and Bryce [Jones] specifically overseeing that,” Leonhard said. “So the streaming has been a really nice aspect just to show people what the teams are doing and what we can do in the future.”
According to Leonhard, who oversees eSports, a big difference between their League of Legends and Rocket League teams is the amount of time players had to prepare for the season.
“Rocket League we had about two weeks to prepare,” Leonhard said. “We threw together a group of people and went straight into the sea. And the League of Legends team has been practicing now for four or five months, all together and getting ready and coaching and everything like that.”
“So they've really come together as a whole and are really supportive of all the players that play,” Leonhard continued. “And so it's just been really nice to see the team grow and skill wise, you know, start to play off each other and build each other up in life.”
Beginning next week, the League team will enter a second league called the GG Leagues, and will also be competing against teams in the state of Michigan once a week. A schedule of upcoming games can be viewed on the eSports’ valpo.edu page as they are posted.
According to Leonhard, as the program grows, they are looking into becoming competitively involved in more titles.
“As we look to see how this program grows, we're trying to identify different teams or titles that we can start and go off on,” Leonhard said. “We know we’ve had a lot of interest in Super Smash Brothers. So we're starting to field some interest with that. We also have had quite a bit of interest in Magic the Gathering.”
The main difficulty right now preventing Valpo from competing in Super Smash Brothers, which is played on the Nintendo Switch, or in Magic the Gathering, a whimsical trading card game, is that both games need to be played in person rather than remotely from a computer.