Last week Heroes of the Dorm knocked the socks off a general audience as one of the biggest collegiate esports events ever was televised on ESPN2. This weekend, a different collegiate championship awarded a similar sum in scholarships—$180,000 for the top team.
The North America Collegiate Championship (NACC) is the League of Legends equivalent to Heroes of the Dorm. Riot Games introduced the competition in January 2014 for students in American and Canadian colleges. Leagues running in different regions around the continent fed into a final bracket hosted at the Riot studio—taking “collegiate competition to the next level.”
This year the Collegiate Star League (CSL), IvyLoL, TeSPA, and Wellplayed combined to put together a similar competition, but this time without as much Riot fanfare. The event wasn’t promoted on the lolesports website or on its schedule, but it still put together the best teams collegiate League of Legends had to offer.
In the finals on Sunday, the University of British Columbia faced off against the nominal favorites, the Robert Morris University Eagles.
RMU became the first university to offer scholarships for esports players in July 2014, offering 50 percent tuition and 50 percent room and board for certain qualified gamers. The university managed to recruit a team filled with high quality talent, including Adrian Ma, who ended up leaving the school shortly after the start of the year to join professional squad Team Impulse.
But RMU, despite its recruitment roster and resources, including a video room dedicated to the team, fell in the finals to UBC in a 3-0 sweep.
UBC may have been a bit of a dark horse at the tournament, but the school has a long history in esports and in League of Legends specifically, competing in IvyLoL and CSl events since Feb. 2012. In the NACC, the team posted a 4-2 record in the West division, falling behind Simon Fraser University after tieing both Simon Fraser and San Jose State University, the runner-ups from the 2014 NACC competition. But in the playoffs, UBC shined, beating Simon Fraser before a semifinal series against undefeated Texas A&M, who they topped 2-0.
The current all-Canadian lineup, featuring Wesley “DaiJurJur” Lee in the top lane, Jason “ProofofPayment” Dong in the jungle, Bob Qin at mid lane, and the marksman and support duo of “Heat Waves” and “Remie,” shone in the playoff rounds of the tournament. Mid laner Bob Qin, famed for his assassin play like his 11/2/4 LeBlanc game in the third map against RMU, surprised the Eagles with his versatility, using Orianna to control the pace of the game in each of the first two maps. UBC’s bottom lane also shone, scoring early advantages against RMU in each game.
Overall it was a well deserved win for British Columbia, one worth a hefty sum in scholarship money. It may not have been the biggest collegiate esports event of the past ten days, but the NACC was still quite a show.