In their first seasons of being established organizations, all three Ohio State 2019-20 premier esports teams made the playoffs in their respective National Collegiate Esports Ohio leagues.
Ohio State’s Overwatch and Rocket League teams finished with 7-0 undefeated records, while the League of Legends team finished with a 4-2 record. Ohio State League of Legends takes on Cleveland State Thursday.
“We never played them during the regular season, but they lost pretty soundly to a few of the teams that we beat, so I think we should be able to win the best of three,” Ohio State League of Legends coach Calvin “Darkpegasus” Chandler said. “Overall, I would say that we’re pretty comfortable going into the game.”
Chandler said the university-sponsored premier team is excited by the prospect of potentially facing off against the student organization Buckeye Gaming Collective’s League of Legends team, which finished its season undefeated and is on the opposite side of the playoff bracket.
“We lost to them in the regular season in an easily winnable game, and it’s somewhat of a personal battle,” Chandler said.
For the Ohio State Rocket League premier team, which will play the winner of BGC’s matchup with Cincinnati April 23, freshman player Alex “Queeds” Quedens said the potential of matching up against players from the same school will be fun.
“It’s a little bit different when playing people that you know because you start to pick up on their tendencies,” Quedens said. “Playing a match like that, it might not even be they’re this much better than you. It’s you’ve played against them so much that you know what their next move is going to be.”
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was announced March 11 that the NCE finals would no longer be played in person and March 19 that the tournaments were switched to informal leagues, meaning no prize money for the winners.
Quedens said that despite the lack of prize money, he still plays to improve and appreciates having tournament experience.
The absence of powerhouse teams such as Akron –– which had two teams in this past season’s final but put more focus on Overwatch this season –– has allowed newer players such as himself to play in the place of experienced members to develop skills, Quedens said.
“It’s a good practice, but it’s definitely still forcing us to adapt throughout our matches,” Quedens said. “I am trying to prove myself every day, but they also understand, and I understand, that it’s going to take time because I’m newer to the scene than they are.”
The Ohio State Overwatch team will play the winner of Ohio University and Cincinnati’s B-team Thursday. Senior player Lucas “resp4wn” Lumbra said he is not worried about the match, but that most of the difficulty in playoffs will be facing off against Kent State and Akron.
While Ohio State Overwatch finished the season 7-0, Lumbra said the match record alone does not tell the entire story.
“We had to reverse sweep Kent, which was a really close match,” Lumbra said. “As far as the overall difficulty, I’d say it was definitely one of the harder seasons that I’ve been playing at OSU for. That’s for sure.”
Akron, which also finished its Overwatch season undefeated, will be another difficult opponent to face in the playoffs, Lumbra said.
“Everyone is feeling confident, but we know that it’s going to be our biggest test,” Lumbra said. “Akron might be a little ahead of us and Kent, but it’s close. It’s definitely not guaranteed that Akron is going to win the whole thing.”
Lumbra said that with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down most major sports, he hopes that more people will start watching esports instead.
“With the way that the playoff bracket is set up, I think that we can get some really exciting matches,” Lumbra said. “With no sports going on, I feel like this kind of environment can be good for the growth of esports as a whole, especially with Ohio collegiate esports.”
Ohio State’s League of Legends and Overwatch teams begin play at 7 p.m. Thursday while Ohio State Rocket League starts its playoff run April 23.