GVSU League of Legends team wins third place in national competition
When Grand Valley State University’s League of Legends team walked into Colombia College’s “Midwest Campus Clash” event and gaming expo, they had a new kind of sport stadium experience.
The event, held Saturday, April 8, hosted multiple university teams that battled for cash prizes and the title of Campus Clash Champion. For Keegan Biegalksi, the competitive team manager, it felt almost like a professional sporting event with as much as $15,000 at stake.
The team entered a giant stage equipped with monitors for the players and cameras set on them for others to watch. The amount of people that attended to watch these teams battle, Biegalksi said could give any regular collegiate sporting event a run for its money.
Young kids attended with their parents and enthusiastic students lined the seats to watch the next generation of college sports work their magic.
After battling four teams, including the University of Michigan and Maryville University, GVSU placed in the overall semi-finals, winning $2,500 in cash. For Biegalski, this was the most rewarding competitive experience he has had since being a physical athlete in high school—and now he is getting paid to do it.
“I like competing as a team. In high school the best part of it was being on a sports team: having buddies, having fun together and winning,” he said. “I can compete again and I love it.”
For Biegalski and fellow team member Drew Schertzer, competing on GVSU’s League of Legends' “A team” has meant a chance to keep playing a group sport competitively, and avoiding the injury concerns and high team fees that come with being a college athlete.
“It’s definitely going to be impacting my college experience a lot because prior to the club, I quit playing sports,” Schertzer said.
But it is not all a breeze, this sport is all about intense mind games and high pressure. There is no confined playing space and no telling where a game will end up. But, both Schertzer and Biegalski would not have it any other way.
“We always play on the same map but every game is different. It’s cool to do different things all the time,” Biegalski said.
Although there are more collegiate League of Legends teams than many people realize, it is taking some universities a long time to catch on and recognize them as regular college sports. All of the teams that GVSU battled at Colombia University were riding on full scholarships or sponsorships in order to play at such a high caliber.
Despite the unique status as an unfunded and unsponsored college team, Biegalski is seeking sponsorship to keep the play and cohesiveness of the team consistent.
After all, he said, they are playing at the same caliber as teams riding on full scholarships for their gaming talents. They want to have the jerseys and gaming devices that represent their quality of play and their university.
In the near future, Biegalski is looking forward to sponsorship opportunities and the day when his new sport is a common across U.S. colleges. Though there are no more competitions in the near future for the team, they will be back next year, ready for a new battle and more late nights doing what they love.
“We’re just a group of friends that play this game,” Schertzer said. “My favorite part is that (we’re) a group of friends playing against people who are doing this every single day and are going (into) professional playing.”