Among the mainstays found at the League of Legends Collegiate Championship finals, there is one high profile newcomer: Simon Fraser University. This was a team that not many expected to reach the stage in Los Angeles come end of this uLoL season, a team that overcame the most doubt in a region that was, early on, said to be a sure fire lock for a different University — their biggest rival, which stood between the Clan and respect and legitimacy.
Simon Fraser University, champions of The West overthrew the reigning two time collegiate champions UBC to leave their mark on uLoL Campus Series history and silence any and all doubt. Now in the spotlight after their shocking ousting of UBC in the Western finals, SFU are on a mission to prove that their dominance in their region wasn’t a fluke — they are a legitimate contender.
The players and head manager of the team took the time to discuss the College Championship with Collegiate Starleague, providing some insight on how the team is feeling heading into the next few weeks before the tournament.
No Name, No Problem
Jeff Fu, the team’s Head Manager, believes that while his squad has turned some heads, SFU could very well still be underestimated by those in the playing field.
“I think our narrative has slightly shifted after our win against UBC.” Fu remarked. “That being said, I think we’ll still be expected to come in as the supposed underdogs; we don’t look nearly as good as other teams on paper.”
How other teams grade them doesn’t sway SFU, however. In fact, top laner Louie “Goldjet” Lu, Ad carry Thomas “Nemantic” Chiu and Support Jacky “Jjayel” Lee seem to love flying under the radar.
“I prefer being viewed as the underdog.” said Lu. “I don’t think we’re at the top yet since our series vs UBC didn’t seem that convincing, but hopefully with…..the LA championship we can show a cleaner SFU.”
“[Being the underdog]…it helps to alleviate the pressure of expectations,” explained Chiu. “So you have one less thing to worry about. [We are] not quite favorites since our series win against UBC wasn’t the cleanest, however hopefully we can show up on stage when it matters the most.”
Lee agrees that being the team under the radar keeps the pressure away. “I would like to stay as underdogs as it would be more exciting for us to somehow just come out of nowhere and win it all,” he said. “….there is a lot less pressure on us if we stay underdogs. However, that does not mean we will try any less than other well-known teams.”
From Left to Right: Jacky “JJayel” Lee, Thomas “Nematic” Chiu, Jeff Fu, Quinn “Demnis” MacDonald, Sam “FrozenNight” Yeung, and Louie “Goldjet” Lu.
It Takes Work
Despite their status as a grassroots organization, the players and small staff that SFU has are working just as hard to come out on top as the big name scholarship programs they face at the end of May.
Fu explained that while to start the season the team had a rigorous line up of support staff members — as the season went on it, because of new commitments, the amount of people available to aid the team dwindled in size. This hasn’t affected their ability or hard work in the slightest, however.
“…the players have really stepped up to go above and beyond what’s expected of them as players.” said Fu. “We might not have the same level of support and infrastructure that the other big names have, but that hasn’t diminished the effort and dedication that my players have put into improving themselves. I think we’ll be well-prepared.”
Jungler Sam “FrozenNight” Yeung shares this sentiment, commenting that it takes a coordinated and dedicated team to succeed, something that SFU has been striving to create.
“I think having a well coordinated team is more important than just having bunch of talented players,” Yeung said. “…even with a team full of talented players — if none of them could get along with or weren’t coordinated as well, the team will not function.”
Those In The Way
With a lopsided bracket and a weakened University of Toronto roster (the team will be playing without their star jungler at the tournament), SFU have, despite the qualms and concerns some have with their team, one of the easier routes to the finals.
While the flip side of the bracket contains the likes of Robert Morris University and Maryville — the two biggest favorites to win the Collegiate title heading in, the consensus among the team is that they would like to face off once again with UBC, this time on stage with the even higher stakes of the finals stage.
“It would be nice to play UBC again in the finals,” said Chiu. “but we’ll see who makes it there.”
Lee concurs, adding that he “…would like to play against UBC again to show that we are the best in the West.”
While their wishes are to have a premium Canadian showdown on the biggest collegiate stage of them all, this hasn’t dampened their sense of reality in terms of the strength of the entire flip side of the bracket.
“The other side of the bracket is definitely a tough contest,” said Fu. “but I think we’ll likely see the winner of the Maryville vs. UBC in the finals.”
As for the act of heading to the tournament itself, Yeung’s joy about the event speaks for his entire team.
“I am really excited about playing on the stage and it being live streamed. It is always my dream to play at the professional league studio.”
With hard work, dedication and just the right amount of skill, that dream has come to fruition for these six individuals.