Nash Trumbly reporter
Pittsburg State League of Legends team faced off against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in their 6th match of the 2023 Collegiate League of Legends Tournament. The Gorillas compete in the North Regional open division, split into groups of 8.
Each team, consisting of 5 players, plays a single round robin in their group, with the top two teams advancing to their regional playoffs.
While the esports club has existed on campus since 2015, this academic year marked the formation of an official Esports Program funded by the University.
Gabriel Cozart, a PSU Alumni and long time president of the E-Sports club, successfully pitched and piloted the program last spring.
“I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Erwin, the VP of student affairs, and we found out that they were independently from us trying to get into the esports scene but they didn’t really know how. So we presented our pitch, and started working with them on what it would take to get us ready to compete this year, and they were really open to it,” Cozart said.
The successful proposal eventually led to Cozart being offered a part time position as the Gorillas “Esports Coordinator”. The new program, managed under the office of campus recreation, also managed to secure funding for a state of the esports lounge for the program, where the players are able to practice and compete in the same room.
So far, the League of Legends team has found success. Despite being seeded rather low in their conference to start, they are currently tied for second in their group, and have so far been the only team to take a game off the first-place team, Oakland University. In their game against the hilltoppers, they initially struggled, losing game 1 off the back of the enemy bot laner having an impressive performance on Varus. Luckily, by embracing a new strategy and taking Varus off the table in the ban phase, they managed to win a close game 2 off the back of a clutch engage by their support player, Ledo ‘Vamporg’ Dakka, who was playing Thresh.
Heading into the final game, the pressure was on. And the Gorillas bot laner, Sean ‘SeanInSpace’ Barnes, seemed to thrive in the tense environment. Once again securing a Tristana pick in the draft phase, an engage by the teams jungler led to an early triple kill for Sean. This early boost in power, along with a noticeable improvement in communication from game 2, enabled his impressive carry performance to win the game, and take the series 2-1 against the Hilltoppers.
Top laner Christian ‘Swiggsbb’ Swiggart managed impressive performances in both of their victories, and had nothing but praise for the program as a whole.
“I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to do this at Pitt state, especially because I’m a super senior, but I’ve always wanted to be a part of esports and I have a huge passion for it, so to get the opportunity to be a meaningful part of this is ecstatic”.
The Gorillas will play their last match of the season against last place team Concordia University. If they take another victory, they will be locked in for a playoffs spot, and will go toe to toe with the top teams of the division. The Gorillas will take the rift against Concordia at 1:00 p.m., on March 11.