In the aftermath of the LPL’s dominance in the 2020 Mid-Season Cup, the question of regional strength has emerged once more. And where regional strength is concerned, the topic of North America’s poor international showings on top of numerous imports without success will rise.
It isn’t a new issue. In fact, it’s existed for a long time within the community. As one Dot Esports article puts it, “It’s been years since NA has produced a Worlds-level player at a position other than jungle and support”. Fans have expressed similar sentiment, with Redditor u/afterdark8 stating, “NA talent just doesn’t stack up. NA soloque is horrendous and there’s no emphasis on building talent.” Even former commentators such as MonteCristo have joined an ongoing discussion on how to improve the region:
Ways to improve NA LoL, a thread.— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) October 20, 2019
1. Switch to bo3’s and increase broadcast days per week to 4. More games on stage = more valuable stage experience for players.
This also allows teams to take more risks on giving rookies time to develop on stage.
As a result, greater emphasis has been placed in North America on the Collegiate and Amateur League of Legends scenes in hopes of revitalizing the “retirement” region with new talent rivalling the best in the world. The finals of one of the biggest Collegiate tournaments - the Collegiate StarLeague’s Gold League - begins tomorrow.
The tournament, which began with over 160 teams across the country, has been whittled down to two over the course of the season: Baron Nassau Black and Illinois Tech Esports Division III. The former team, having come out of the loser’s bracket, begins the match one game down. Led by their captains JaggedLightning and Piráte, respectively, the teams have fought to earn their spot in the finals - albeit through very different routes.
Baron Nassau Black has played a heavily aggressive playstyle throughout the season, something that the current meta heavily favours. It’s indicative of a playstyle in which the game is decided for Baron Nassau Black through a huge gold lead and key objectives by 20 minutes. Just take this example:
It's a huge fight at 21 minutes in KSU's jungle that leads to an ace and a baron for Princeton Black! pic.twitter.com/VeU1gVmD62— Princeton eSports (@ptonesports) March 9, 2020
At times it’s cost them - they finished second in the North East division and fell to the loser’s bracket after a clean sweep at the hands of Laurentian University’s B team. However, they’ve won every other playoff match with their own clean sweeps, and look to do the same at the Finals. JaggedLightning himself stated: “I’m confident that we’ll win…. Our playstyle is simple and constrictive and harkens back to the Korean style. Once we get a lead, we play very tight and only increase it.”
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On the other side of Summoner’s Rift, Illinois Tech Esports Division III has never lost a series in the playoffs and has only lost two games, like their opponents. Their strength lies in their macro play. Their captain, Piráte, holds a career 40-12 CSL record and a 5.8 average KDA - a metric indicative of strong team play and very few unforced errors. He expressed strong confidence: “We all feel like if we play the style we’ve played throughout the season there is a good chance we come out on top.”
They fell in the very first series of the regular season to the Depaul Blue Demons, but came back against them in a 2-1 decisive semifinal victory before sweeping the University of California 2-0 to make it to the final stage. The team rides a 7-series winning streak against their opponents.
How can I watch the Collegiate StarLeague Final?
The CSL finals start at 12 pm PDT, on Friday, 5th June and can be watched on the CSL Twitch channel. We have embedded the channel below for your convenience.
For the full bracket and results so far check out the CSL website.
For more information, go to the official match site to learn more.