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Stepping out from the Champions’ Shadow: Simon Fraser University

The members of Simon Fraser University League of Legends team are no strangers to high-level play. They are a perennial top 8 collegiate team, placing 2nd in the West region during the past two years, behind only 2015 NACC and 2016 uLoL champions the University of British Columbia. With a tweaked roster, this season they hope to finally overcome crosstown rival UBC to win the West – and the uLoL championship.

Roster Changes

From Left to Right: Support Jacky “JJaye!” Lee, ADC Thomas “Nematic” Chiu, Mid Quinn “Demnis” MacDonald, Jungler Sam “FrozenNight” Yeung, and Top Laner Louie “Goldjet” Lu

This year Simon Fraser’s uLoL Campus Series hopes rest on a changed roster that mixes uLoL experience with fresh talent. Two two-year veterans, midlaner Quinn “Demnis” MacDonald and support Jacky “JJayel” Lee, are joined by veteran ADC Thomas “Nematic” Chiu  in welcoming Challenger toplaner Louie “Goldjet” Lu to the team. Master jungle sub Sam “FrozenNight” Yeung replaces TalkPlayLove, who stepped down from his position due to other commitments, as starting jungler. 

SFU’s support staff is also undergoing changes from last year. With the start of the 2017 NALCS Spring Split, part-time coaches Tim and Simon are scaling back their time with the team to fulfill their coaching commitments to Echo Fox. Instead SFU will look to MacDonald and Challenger team veteran Chiu for game strategy and macro decisions. They are confident in their ability to use the knowledge they gained from the two coaches to their advantage in the coming uLoL season. “I feel like if we [MacDonald and Nematic] take it up on our shoulders, I think we can reach a similar level[…]to what Tim and Simon were offering us,” MacDonald says. 

The team’s new roster has been playing together since September. They are confident they can beat any school – including perennial rival UBC.

A (Not-So-Bitter) Rivalry 

The SFU team’s sights are set on the uLoL cup, but to reach the finals they must advance out of the West region – which means finally beating reigning uLoL (and West regional) champions UBC in a playoff series. The teams’ two previous meetings have all gone in UBC’s favor: a best-of-5 in the 2016 uLoL top 8 and another BO5 this past November in the uLoL rivalry series. 

On the surface for SFU, beating UBC seems like an exercise in futility, but MacDonald is confident in his team’s ability to win. “This year, right off the bat it’s been really good. We really enjoy playing with each other,” he adds. “Because of that – plus a mixture of UBC looking a bit weaker and us feeling stronger – I think we have it in us to do it.”

Looking deeper into their series against UBC, SFU’s chances seem quite good. Both of their BO5 losses to UBC last year went to a game 5, and in the uLoL Rivalries matchup they managed to jump out to a 2-0 series lead before falling in five games. In the past two years, no other team besides SFU has even taken UBC to a game 5 in collegiate play. UBC also had to replace its two-time champion midlaner BobqinXD, who left the team last year to pursue opportunities in the professional LoL scene. However, MacDonald does not see Bob’s replacement kT Smurf as a downgrade. “I also think that he [kT Smurf] is probably their best player,” he mentions. “I feel like UBC is definitely weaker than last year because they lost a lot of their players, but they’re still (obviously) good. I’m definitely motivated [to improve].”

No matter the outcome of a potential uLoL top 8 clash between SFU and UBC, a lot of respect exists between the two Vancouver universities. “We have a really healthy relationship with UBC in general,” MacDonald says. “We’re pretty good friends with all of the players.” But MacDonald is sure to include that friendliness does not mean the two schools’ rivalry isn’t competitive. “As a team and as a school, at least for me,” he adds, “this is the year I want to win more than ever.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg97e2nasYQ]

Source: Riot Games

High Expectations

As a new player on the SFU team, Lu’s expectations are modest. “Since this is my first year playing in uLoL, I don’t really have a gauge for how good the other teams are,” he says. “Everything is kind of a mystery. I just want to make it as far as possible.”

MacDonald, however, reveals that the team’s veterans expect much more:

“For now I’m only really focusing on [the West region] because that’s the hurdle we have – for myself and for our team. For the past two years[…]it’s just been UBC at the end. Top 4 is our goal – I expect to get to finals again – if we keep on top of our game. Once we get to the finals, it’ll probably be a tough one, but I think we have it in us to do it.”

While a trip to the uLoL finals is never a guarantee for any school, Simon Fraser University has as good a chance as any to make a deep run into the playoffs. If they finally beat UBC, there might just be no stopping them.

 

Who do you think will own the city of Vancouver this year? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook how you feel about SFU’s chances in uLoL!

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