Out of all the esports, League of Legends is the one pushing the hardest for mainstream recognition. And it's the closest to achieving that in Australia, with Riot Games announcing an intriguing partnership today.
Photo: Riot Games
The largest sport series for university athletes, Unigames, has officially sanctioned League of Legends as a sport for their annual events going forward. That means that uni students will be able to represent their tertiary institutions at the Australian University Games each year, provided they make it through a series of qualifiers.
Those qualifiers are:
1. Inter-University Tournaments - Teams need to enter their Inter-University Tournament during June at participating universities.
2. Regional Online Tournaments - The winners from each university will compete in regional online tournaments (5-7 July), including Eastern (New South Wales, ACT), Northern (Queensland), Southern (Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania), New Zealand and Wildcard (regions not covered by the four groups).
3. Nationals - The top teams from each region will then play in an online round robin to determine who will make the final.
4. Australian University Games - The finalists from Nationals will head to Perth to play for the title in front of a live crowd at the Australian University Games (25-30 September)
The chief executive of Australian University Sport, which oversees the Unigames and governs university sport for institutions nationwide, said the organisation would look to use League of Legends as "yet another means of expanding our reach to broader campus communities".
It sounds a touch ruthless, but it's pretty reasonable. Most of the top esports talent developed during high school and university; students are often the ones with the most time, or the most willing to sacrifice time, to play competitive video games. Australian gamers might be getting older every year, but having a job certainly doesn't make grinding your way through the Oceanic ladder any easier.
Around one million students are represented by Australian University Sport through the organisation's 42 members. The body also oversees international sporting trips and participation in the World University Games and World University Championships — two events that will probably end up holding their own League of Legends competitions before too long.
Riot's also set up a special landing page for people who want to join League university clubs. 40 clubs around Australia and New Zealand are already listed on the site, and students are encouraged to create their own as well.