Sports Dynasty: A team or individual that dominates their sport or league for an extended length of time.
In today’s college era, there aren’t many schools to claim the rightful title of being a sports dynasty. UConn’s Women’s Basketball program and Alabama’s Football program are the most notable around the NCAA.
If it’s that hard in traditional sports, you can only imagine how immense the task is to claim that title in collegiate esports. However, one program is up to that challenge, looking to cement their name in history come late May. Welcome to the University of British Columbia’s Esports Association.
“Winning Ain’t Easy,” or is it?
Founded in the summer of 2011, UBC’s League of Legends organization has been one of the most well-respected and feared at competitions of all levels. Over the course of their 6-year tenure, UBC has competed in 30+ local tournaments and collegiate leagues, never dropping lower than a Top 8 finish. In short, the only way to accurately describe the organization is simply: UBC is a winner.
What makes UBC even more impressive is the caliber of their wins. Amongst the 13 registered first-place victories come back-to-back championships in the most competitive collegiate tournament in North America, Riot Games’ uLoL Campus Series, previously known as the North American Collegiate Championship.
Now UBC has a chance to go above and beyond, and accomplish a feat that is seemingly unimaginable in any esport or traditional sport: complete a three-peat on the highest level of competition. This UBC squad is in similar shape to Alabama Football’s stint from 2011-2013. Both schools coming into the season after back-to-back Championships as the favorite, both having the talented roster to win a third, and, funnily enough, both lost to their rival in their conference championship set. While Alabama ended up not accomplishing the three-peat, all eyes are on the reigning League of Legends champs to do so.
On the road to this year’s College Championships, UBC had a new obstacle to overcome. The end of the 2016 season saw the departure of star mid laner, Boyuan “bobqinxd” Qin. However, the doors closing on Qin’s collegiate career only opened new ones for young, hungry talent in the 2017 season.
Stepping in for Qin this season was Sujal “kT Smurf” Adhikari. Right away, Adhikari made his presence well known around the team and picked up where Qin left off.
“Personally, I am new to the team this year, so I cannot say what it was like playing with Bobqin,” said Colton ‘UBC CJ’ Popowich, top laner for UBC. “He was and still is a great player. but we have kT Smurf filling his shoes in mid lane and I think he does that job extremely well.”
Adhikari and company propelled UBC to yet another well put together uLoL Campus Series season, putting together an overall game record of 17-3. Even with the field being expanded due to the combination of uLoL and CSL teams, the only blemish on UBC’s record came in the West Region Finals, where they dropped the series 3-1 to cross-town rival, Simon Fraser University.
Despite the loss, UBC still found a way into the College Championships bracket by securing one of three Wildcard seeds. Now, the only things standing between UBC and a third consecutive title are three more series.
Fueling the Fire
With a long down time between their qualifying Wildcard match and their Opening Round match of the College Championships, UBC has been working hard to learn from their losses and return to their peak championship form. One key area the team has been working on has been trust. Trust leads to a better environment which leads to confidence and sets up a winning formula.
“The team atmosphere has been getting better and better as we put in more time and trust into each other. We all believe we have what it takes to win the entire tournament,” Popowich elaborated.
Not only team morale growing, but individual confidence is beaming as well, especially for those looking to outgrow the shoes they have been asked to fill.
“I know a lot of players looked up to [Qin] and he shaped how UBC won the past two years with his mid play. I’ll look forward to putting on the same caliber of performance and hopefully getting results,” said Adhikari.
For UBC, revenge against their rivals won’t come early in the tournament. The teams are on opposite sides of the bracket. Instead, UBC will be tasked to overcome at least one Northern titan in Maryville, with chances of meeting and another Northern powerhouse and long-time foe, Robert Morris (IL), in the second round. While it may be labeled as the Opening Round, the match against Maryville could determine the entire tournament outcome according to Popowich.
“First, we have to get past Maryville University who are probably a top 3 team at the event, and doing so will not be an easy task. RMU is also probably the next team in our way but if we can edge out Maryville then I believe we have what it takes to win the entire tournament,” he explained.
Cementing Their Dynasty
With confidence firing at all cylinders and a fuel for proving they are still the top dog, the College Championships is UBC’s time to solidify their dynasty. Being the best and winning it all for one year is impressive, but not even Nick Saban’s Alabama football team or even SK Telecom T1’s League of Legends team can say they’ve done it for three years in a row…yet.
For UBC, it can all become a reality very soon.
Be sure to tune-in to all the League of Legends action at the College Championships May 25-28. Keep up on our Twitter and Facebook to learn more about other playoff teams and any happenings around the collegiate esports world leading up to the College Championships! Also, be sure to let George know if you think UBC will secure the three-peat!