Two Big Ten League of Legends squads will be facing off in an exhibition match at PAX East on Friday, April 22 - and the whole thing will be televised on the Big Ten Network the following Monday.
As Riot Games and the Big Ten announced, Ohio State and Michigan State will be playing in front of a live audience at PAX East, followed by the Campus Series semifinals and finals happening over the weekend. This will be a big step forward for collegiate League of Legends, and the first time such a match will be televised in its entirety in the United States.
According to Michael Sherman, collegiate lead at Riot Games, the choice of going with the Big Ten for college League of Legends’ first televised event was a simple one: “The reason we went with the Big Ten, because of the 14 schools in the conference, 13 of them have League teams, and five of them made it into the Campus Series. As a partner, they were an obvious choice.”
While many traditional sports use their collegiate systems to feed into their pro leagues, Riot doesn’t see collegiate League of Legends tournaments the same way, says Sherman. “We view this as a parallel to [the Challenger Series],” he says. “Collegiate by no means feeds into LCS or Challenger and isn’t meant to replace Challenger. Collegiate is just another level of play. There are students who want to take competitive play seriously, but really want to drive home on their degree. This is their opportunity to do so.
“I think the actual details of how this folds into each other is something that we’re going to be working out over the next couple of years,” continues Sherman. “I think what this really is a continuation of driving League of Legends as a sport. Conferences being involved and collegiate sports being involved as a whole is just another level of play that drives League to being a sport.”
Taylor Cocke may be a Pac-12 guy (Go Bears), but he’s happy to see collegiate League of Legends get love, regardless of conference. You can follow him on Twitter @taylorcocke.