Riot Games announces new partnership, format for College Season

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Riot Games announced a holistic reformatting of its College League of Legends approach Thursday, from its partner for the college series to the approach to regular-season matches.

The developer will partner with Battlefy and rebrand its University League of Legends series as the College League of Legends season. That also means the Collegiate Star League, which ran uLoL, is no longer in charge of this event, but a Riot spokesperson said the developer plans to work with CSL on other competitions in the future.

Battlefy's inaugural event as a Riot collegiate partner also comes with some competitive changes.

The upcoming season, which begins Jan. 15, will employ a Swiss format that matches teams with a similar record against each other. Riot came to this decision after speaking with officers representing clubs from the last season and looking at last year's regional results.

"This is going to be the most competitive college League of Legends season ever," said J.T. Vandenbree, lead of League Operations for College League of Legends.

Just like last year, collegiate League will be open to 500-plus schools, including both varsity teams and student-run clubs, and Riot launched a new website for teams interested in joining the competition. Each team will compete in regional conferences. The new format will give teams less lead time for scouting on their next opponents, but it will allow the best teams to play the best and add some parity to the week-to-week matchups.

Each region has six rounds of regular-season play followed by playoffs, which run from Feb. 26 to April 8. The four regional conference champions will automatically quality for the eight-team college championships, with the remaining teams battling it out in a play-in event from April 9-22 to fill those last four spots.

The League of Legends College Championship will take place June 7-10 in Los Angeles at the North American League of Legends Championship Series Arena.

Teams that advance to their conference playoffs will also earn scholarship prizes based on placement. Each team will get six player scholarships and two staff scholarships that scale up based on performance:

  • First place: $8,000 (per player), $4,000 (per staff member)

  • Second place: $4,000 (per player), $2,000 (per staff)

  • Third and fourth: $2,000 (per player), $1,000 (per staff)

  • Fifth or lower: $1,000 (per player), $500 (per staff)

Collegiate League of Legends has grown immensely in the past few years. What once were groups of students competing for fun has now become a part of some school's athletic departments. Universities like the University of California-Irvine, Boise State, Utah and Georgia State have started pouring time and money into building up League of Legends rosters.

"Last year there were 11 schools that offered scholarships for League of Legends, both full and partial," in the Riot series, Vandenbree said. "This year there's going to be more than 30."

There are currently 40 varsity esports programs in the U.S. and Canada across multiple esports. Maryville University, the reigning college champion, is one of those teams.