With the formation of the first collegiate Division I Varsity E-sports program last year, League of Legends, the most popular game worldwide, has been a staple of Miami’s program. After a disappointing semi-final finish last year, the Miami Varsity League of Legends team is out for revenge. Competing for their second time in the College League of Legends (cLol) tournament, the RedHawks have gone 4-1 through their first five weeks of regular season play.

In cLol, hundreds of teams across the country compete in four separate regions, along with teams from the Big Ten and the Peach Belt conferences. After six weeks of competition, teams with a record of 5-1 or better advance to the playoffs, where last year Miami was eliminated earlier than predicted. Each match is a draft, best-of-three format.

This year, Miami’s team is looking to have a strong performance in the North Region and, so far, have done just that. While retaining a majority of their roster from last year, the ’Hawks’ main strength is their team dynamic. Their ability to discuss problems within the team and fix them shows through their growth throughout the program’s existence.

“If you want to go far you can’t have the same issues reoccuring,” Mid-lainer Jacey “DeathHawk” Miller said.

Although there were mistakes during the early part of their season, now many of the team’s mistakes are one time occurrences.

In their first match on Saturday January 20, the ’Hawks’ had a dominate 2-0 victory against the Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats. With their main ADC (attack, damage, carry) gone, one of the founders of the varsity E-sports program, Matthew “Cubbyx” Samuelson, got to sub in as the main damage role. As a student, he recognized the need for a varsity program on campus, and through years of hard work, he finally achieved his goal.

“I never wanted to play because I didn’t want to take a spot away from someone who needed a home in the program,” Samuelson said. “It meant a lot to me that my teammates trusted me to sub in with them and take the W, and it’s a cherry on top for a lot of special memories I have within this program.”

He racked up an impressive 20.5 KDA (Kill/Death/Assist).

With its usual roster back for Week Two, on Friday January 26, Miami easily brought down North Dakota State University with another 2-0 win. In game one, North Dakota didn’t get any kills on Miami’s entire team as the ’Hawks’ kept strong control of the lanes. Although North Dakota had a few kills in game two, they were unable to take any of Miami’s towers (the main defensive structures protecting a team’s side) and fell quickly to the RedHawks.

Unlike their first two weeks, Miami finally experienced their first tough opponent when they faced the University of Northern Iowa Panthers on Saturday February 3. Although they have had easy matchups so far, the ’Hawks started their game slower than expected.

“At the end of the day we are pretty confident that we are almost always going to win, but it was just slower and wasn’t as cleanly executed,” Miller said.

Although there were a few unexpected deaths in the top lane, Miami was able to hold it together and control the rest of the map to secure the 2-0 sweep.

Week Four brought back a similar feeling for the Hawks’ as they came away with a quick 2-0 victory over the Wayne State Warriors on Saturday February 10. With dominate mid-lane play by Miller, who had an impressive average 18 KDA and strong map presence from Jungler Riley “DoodSalad” Hayes, the Warriors were unable to take any towers and only had two kills in game two.

Needing only one more win to advance to playoffs, Miami took on the University of Manitoba Bison on Saturday, February 17. In game one, the Bison came out strong and took the 1-0 series lead. However, coming back quickly, Miami won game two. In game three, the Bison’s ability to maintain control of the map and keep up strong bottom lane pressure lead them to defeat the ’Hawks 2-1.

Throughout all five games, one of Miami’s key aspects of their game has been their strong presence in the jungle due to the efforts of Hayes. Acting as the team’s main shot caller, he has been a key difference maker for the ’Hawks.

“He’s played an essential role in our team’s success having the highest average kill participation, as well as being influential in helping our team improve week in and week out,” team analyst Haitham “Fleed” Al Gbouri said.

With one last chance to qualify for playoffs, the Miami Varsity League of Legends team will compete next Saturday, February 23. The game will be streamed and casted at Twitch.tv/MiamiUniversityOH.

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