The 2016 uLoL Campus Series featured 32 League of Legends teams from around North America. The 2017 tournament will feature as many as can sign up to play, Riot Games announced Monday.
The continued partnership with Collegiate StarLeague will allow for teams from colleges around the region to sign up in an open registration system. The registered teams will first be broken up into four regions (North, South, East, and West) and then into groups of six that will compete in a five-week long regular season to decide who moves on to the bracket stages. The top two teams from each group will move on to the bracket stages to determine the regional winners. From there, Riot says there will be postseason play, the details of which they have yet to announce.
“The more we talked to college clubs and scholarship schools and the community that wants to participate, the more and more we learned that last year was probably too exclusive,” Michael Sherman, Riot’s collegiate associate esports manager, told Yahoo Esports. “Our endgame for uLoL really comes down to giving an opportunity to as many players as possible to either participate or cheer on their school.”
Riot sees the collegiate esports scene not as a way to feed players into professional play like many traditional sports, but as a way to grow League of Legends as a whole.
“We want to keep growing this for as long as we possibly can,” says Sherman. “We see that League can stand the test of time and last for generations. That comes from constantly trying to adapt and being ahead of the curve. League of Legends where it is now is completely different than it was in 2009. uLoL and college esports look way different. It’s all about continuing to adapt and continuing to grow.”
To grow the collegiate League of Legends world in particular, Riot says it’s committed to working with college esports clubs to ensure consistency and stability.
“We talk [to college esports club leadership] a lot about leadership, transition, best practices,” says Sherman. “The biggest thing is communication. It’s helping club presidents to talk with one another. I think a great example of what we’ve changed is to make clubs more involved in the Campus Series. That will help clubs stick around year after year and help keep everyone together. For as long as the club program has existed, it’s been about communication. It’s making sure everyone can grow and learn from their peers.”
The uLoL Campus Series is separate from uLoL Rivalries with Yahoo Esports, which we announced last week in partnership with Riot Games, but Sherman sees them as linked.
“We’re always exploring different ways to give other fans ways to show their fandom,” he says. “The Rivalry series was a great opportunity because it was right in the prime part of the offseason for both collegiate and professional [League of Legends]. We’re always looking for different ways to engage the community.”
Riot is now accepting sign ups for the 2017 uLoL Campus Series. Matches start January 14.
If League of Legends had existed while Taylor Cocke was in school at UC Berkeley, you know he would have lost some uLoL matches. Follow him on Twitter @taylorcocke.