On Saturday August 22, the UBC eSports League of Legends team defeated Chunnam Techno University (CTU) 2-0 in Gangnam, Korea, in the finals of the AfreecaTV International Collegiate Championship 2015 (AICC), bagging yet another prestigious tournament.
The tournament, hosted by the Korean streaming company AfreecaTV, was a round robin in which four teams, representing North America, Korea, Japan and Taiwan competed against each other for two days in the group stage. The top two teams from the group stage then played against each other in the finals. UBC represented North America because they beat Georgia Tech in the Collegiate Starleague AICC qualifiers earlier in August.
UBC initially lost to CTU in its first game on August 20.
But the eSports team bounced back the next day, beating the Japanese and Taiwanese teams on Friday and managed to secure their place in the AICC final against CTU on Saturday. After an hour and thirty minutes of focused and intense gaming, UBC emerged victorious and became the first ever AICC League of Legends winners.
Chunnam Techno University is well-known as an eSports university and notorious for developing world class athletes like Lee Jae-wan (Wolf), Lee Jong-Beom (Peekaboo) and Ha Seung-chan (Hachani) -- athletes that went on to play for Korean bigwigs such as SK Telecom T1 S and the KT Rolster Arrows. For many, it came as no surprise when CTU crushed UBC in the first game of the AICC.
The UBC team played in a country where eSports were mainstream long before they even reached North America. The Korean eSports managing body, KeSPA was approved by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as far back as 2000. In 2011, the Korean government passed the Shutdown Law which banned teenagers below the age of 16 from playing online games past midnight, because online gaming addiction was such a widespread problem.
The UBC eSports team, as the sole North American representative, not only had to face the domineering CTU team on their home turf, but also had to handle post-flight fatigue during their first game. To make matters worse, they were unable to scout the Korean team before the game.
“On the first day, we weren’t really sure what to expect because scouting for one thing is really hard, just because we pull up different servers and everything is in a different language. So its hard to research other people,” said Wesley "Daijurjur" Lee, the top laner for the UBC team.
“We went into the tournament completely dark," he said.
Despite the stacking odds, the team stayed optimistic about their game against CTU and the tournament as a whole.
“[It was a] 50:50 toss-up depending on how well we played,” said Lee about playing the Japanese and Taiwanese teams. “We were pretty confident that we could win.”
“I just kept reminding the guys that even though we lost really terribly, that ‘it’s still okay, we’ve lost like this before, we can still be positive and we can bounce back,’” Lee said after losing 2-0 to CTU in two games CTU dominated.
When the team stepped out of their gaming booth, after their win against the Japanese team, the crowd that had come to watch the tournament was dead silent.
“They were just shocked. We surprised them because of how dominant they were on the first day against us. Most people thought we were going to just lose but we played much better on the third day and we won,” said Lee.
Having won everything worth winning for a North American team, from the NACC to the AICC, the team might actually decide to “dial back” on League of Legends for now. And they deserve to. With yet another tournament under their belt, their sixth tournament win, this year’s roster have established themselves as collegiate greats, and maybe even the best team in North America.