At King Library in Room 114 between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m., you'll see varsity League of Legends Coach Jarod Haney and his team practicing and honing their skills within the game. League of Legends (LOL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games. It's playable on Microsoft Windows and MacOS computers.
It is also one of the most popular titles in esports today. Multiple college campuses across the United States have their very own teams and compete with other college teams like Miami. These teams compete in various tournaments and to win cash prizes that either benefit their team or their schools.
This past October, Miami's LOL team won statewide competitions in the National Collegiate Esports (NCE) Ohio LAN (local area network), winning and bringing home a total of $1,250. Because of the team's success and progress, last spring the Miami esports department received seed funding to grow and keep its status as the top college for esports. According to the Miami University website, this seed is to be used "to build and support the first major esports curriculum in the country, to foster new research and to build an academic community around esports, to expand the reach of Miami's varsity and club esports," and so much more for esports.
Their origin stories
Jarod Haney started out as a player for Miami's varsity Overwatch team during his junior year. He later gained some coaching experience by being the analyst for the team during his final year as a Miami student. After Haney graduated, the Miami esports program wanted him back so that he could officially coach the team. Later down the road, the program started to have him coach the varsity LOL team.
Like most players on the Miami team, everybody had their start by playing the game when it first launched back in 2009. It was either their friends who introduced them to the game, they watched a video about the game on YouTube that grabbed their attention, or they watched their favorite live streamer on the gaming streaming service Twitch.
"I watched a streamer play it and I thought it was different and looked interesting," said varsity team member Alex Thompson. "Now here I am still playing it today."
"I tried to play the game for as long as I could in middle school because that's all my friends would talk about, and I thought it was very annoying. Key word was tried," said varsity team member and head of team analytics Lorn McLaren.
Most of the players heard about the team through Miami LOL's previous accomplishments and through the Miami esports club's posters about tryout dates and times.
There's no I in team
The players have gone through many hardships and challenges. Whether that's dealing with a loss or a personal challenge, the players have their own methods in being successful and overcoming them.
"I feel like my personal challenge is that I didn't know as much as I thought I did," said varsity team member Dillion Kleinvehn. "It's different when you're with your teammates online than when you have them right next to you." Kleinvehn said that to overcome this challenge, he had to work with his teammates, get a feel of his surroundings, and watch their playstyles so that he can adapt to them.
It's not only the players who have challenges though. McLaren also stated that while being the team's analytic coach, he has to take stats for every team for every competition and tournament that they go to.
"My biggest challenge is that I stay up late entering all these stats and I end up getting little to no sleep at all," McLaren said. "If you ever have a problem or need any help with anything just ask."
All for one & one for all
Everyone on the team has deeply expressed what their favorite part about being on the team is: family. They see this team as a second family from home. They all rely on each other and need each other in order to be successful.
"What I look for in someone who's interested in joining the team is not only having some skill in the game, but the ability to communicate with your teammates. That's the important thing," said Haney.
"Winning tournaments is an amazing feeling, but when you win with your team, it's even better cause you accomplish and overcome your challenges together," said varsity player Ben Wolfer.
The Miami League of Legends team has shown what they can do together when they're united and shown what they have sacrificed to be on the team. They all save the same goal in mind, and when they're at King Library in Room 114 between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m., you'll see them, together, working to achieve that goal.