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Huge Collegiate Video Gaming Event Coming to UC


UC’s video gaming team will challenge other clubs from schools across the region in a massive tournament Oct. 3-4.

Date: 9/29/2015 9:07:00 AM
By: Jackie Mulay
Other Contact: Tom Robinette
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: artwork by Riot Games; photos provided

UC ingot   Warriors, wizards and weird monsters of all sorts will soon descend upon the University of Cincinnati to battle in a high-stakes tournament of epic magnitude.

And one of UC’s biggest student organizations is responsible for bringing the big-time competition to campus.
League of Legends artwork
Most players at the All MID Gaming Event will be competing in “League of Legends,” a MOBA game developed and published by Riot Games.


The UC League of Legends (UCLoL) group is hosting an All Midwest eSports Gaming Event on Oct. 3-4 in Fifth Third Arena. Sixteen colleges from across the Midwest have been invited to Fifth Third Arena to play in a tournament where teams of gamers will compete for cash prizes and gear.

The event is slated to have over 500 participants, which would make it the biggest collegiate video gaming competition – surpassing one recently held at the University of California, Irvine.

WHAT IS ESPORTS?

ESports, or electronic sports, is a term for organized multiplayer video game competitions – a growing phenomenon worldwide. But eSports competitions are not confined to video game versions of actual sports like soccer and football.

The most common types of video games associated with eSports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games. Games like “League of Legends,” “Super Smash Bros.” and “Halo” are some of the popular eSports titles, although traditional sports games like “FIFA,” a soccer game, are also often included in the competitions.

Most players at the All MID Gaming Event will be competing in “League of Legends,” a MOBA game developed and published by Riot Games. The game’s style is a blend of fantasy, science-fiction and strategic combat. Characters feature unique fighting abilities and names like Blitzcrank, Dr. Mundo and Rengar the Pridestalker.

The event boasts almost 20 sponsors with connections to the gaming industry, including skoshbox, GeForce and Microsoft. Twitch, a live streaming video platform, is scheduled to broadcast the tourney on the front page of its site for those who can’t attend but want to follow the action online.
students playing video games
UCLoL is among the first gaming organizations in the country to be recognized as a club sport by a university and is one of the largest and fastest growing student organizations on campus..


CLUB HISTORY

UCLoL is one of the largest and fastest growing student organizations on campus. As of this fall, the organization has over 650 active members. The group is also among the first gaming organizations in the country to be recognized as a club sport by a university.

Chris Postell, member of UCLoL and director of the All MID Gaming Event, says university support is a big step because it adds “funding and legitimacy” to the organization.

Tony Quallen, a UC information technology manager and UCLoL’s advisor, said the club pushed hard to get recognized just like any other at the university.

“The hard part is getting that recognition,” Quallen said. “Austin Jutte, the president of UCLoL (at the time), had to show that there are just as many people that want to be a part of this club sport as there are for club sports like rugby.”

IT’S ABOUT TEAM

The labeling of competitive video gaming as a sport has been somewhat of a controversial subject. Some might wonder if video gamers qualify as “athletes.” Or those in academe might ask, “Where’s the educational value?”

UCLoL is aware of the doubters.
students playing video games
UC’s gaming club is ranked first in the state, third regionally and in the top 16 nationally.


In 2013, when the club was just starting at UC, members often held meetings and competitions in Swift Hall. Quallen said that, in the beginning, the organization received pushback from administration because they “didn’t want to turn classrooms into gaming spaces.”

“They were skeptical,” Quallen said. “The idea is that we were supposed to be focusing on education, not video games.”

However, after around 300 students attended the group’s first event, administration began to acknowledge the value of UCLoL as an organization and accepted it as an official club sport.

And that recognition was well won. UC’s gaming club is ranked first in the state, third regionally and in the top 16 nationally. Game publisher Riot Games is responsible for these rankings through its League of Legends Collegiate Program, which organizes regional, state and national competitions for participants.

“We’re very fortunate to have the UC culture embrace us,” Postell said. “We couldn’t do what we do without the administrative support at UC. We’re lucky to have that culture of collaboration.”

The popularity of the club also goes a long way toward contrasting the stereotype of gamers as basement-dwelling geeks. Quallen says it’s quite the opposite of that outdated perception, pointing out how eSports is all about camaraderie and networking.

ESports is a way to push back on the idea that gaming makes people lose social skills,” Quallen says. “The team aspect of this sport is what’s valuable.

“Think about international students who come from another country and don’t know anyone. But they see a club based on their favorite game and find people they can connect with. Often times it can come down to students building study groups with like-minded individuals, people of the same majors that they meet in the club.”