Riot Games is making some significant changes to its collegiate season and format ahead of the 2017 season, as announced on the ULoL website Tuesday. Riot will partner with the Collegiate Star League
The most notable change is an expansion of the teams allowed to compete. In years past, 32 teams competed in a qualifier entry event. This year, all 500+ schools that have a League of Legends club will be allowed to compete. There will be a greater emphasis in general on the role of campus clubs, as explained by Riot collegiate esports lead Michael Sherman.
“We’re actually focusing on clubs this year as a big outlet, we’re looking to clubs to be the groups that assemble teams, and those clubs will represent their schools,” he said in a phone interview. “I think we’ve seen a lot of top teams in the past who were kind of disassociated with their communities, and we really want to help bring those two together, because there’s a big group of fans that really want to support the team at their school, but it sometimes feels really difficult to.”
Each team will be put into one of four regions: North, South, East and West. Teams will be seeded into groups of six dependent on skill, as determined by the combined average MMR of each player on the roster. Teams will play each of the other five teams in their group once, with each group stage match taking place over a best-of-three.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the bracket stage. That’s where the scholarship money comes into play:
- 1st Place - $8000 per player
- 2nd Place - $4000 per player
- 3rd-4th Place - $2000 per player
- 5th-8th Place - $1000 per player
One of the changes offered by Riot this season is scholarship money available to coaches and analysts, not just players. Coaching is integral to success in League, and many of the successful collegiate teams in recent years have been the ones who were able to have a staff to help out. Sherman said all four teams in last year’s Final Four had a coach or an analyst.
“I think we see a lot of students who maybe aren’t necessarily the greatest mechanical player but can watch a lot of VODs and deliver important details about how their upcoming opponent plays,” he said. “All of that is extremely valuable and really a key part of success in traditional sports and uLoL esports, so we wanted to help encourage that.”
Manager and analyst scholarships will be available for schools that win their respective region.
Details about the postseason will be announced at a later date.
Collegiate League of Legends has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with scholarships popping up around the country and UC Irvine breaking ground on a new esports arena.
“In 2014, RMU was the first school to launch a scholarship program, and I don’t think at the time that we were confident that that would necessarily evolve to where it has now,” he said. “But we’ve seen over 13 schools now launch scholarship programs. This is the first year actually that there are more scholarships in the ecosystem that aren’t provided by Riot, so I think that’s a huge stepping stone for us, while we’re continuing to invest and support students and this growth, the community is really starting to deliver and show positive change back.”
If you’re a current college student and what to get involved, you can find your club team here.