Nash Trumbly reporter
The Pitt State League of Legends team faced off against the IWU Shield, taking a loss 1-3 in the first round of the 2023 Collegiate League of Legends tournament. Despite taking the first game of the best of 5 series, they struggled to find their footing for the rest of the match, getting dealt 3 concise defeats to end their season.
The Gorillas managed to take the second playoff spot in their group the week before with a 2-0 match victory over Concordia University E-sports. The sweeping victory took the Gorillas less than an hour to complete, with a dominant game one performance out of Top Laner Christian ‘Swiggsbb’ Swiggart on Gangplank, totaling 10 kills and over 40 percent of his team’s damage. Both Jungler Jacob ‘Aero’ Lambert and AD Carry Sean ‘SeanInSpace’ Barnes remained ‘deathless’ throughout the 2-game series, with only one death each.
Despite the teams 5 and 2 record leaving them tied for second place, their previous 2-1 victory over the WKU Hilltoppers secured their 2nd place finish and qualified them for playoffs as the 11th seed in the North Regional Open Division.
Heading into their match against 6th seed IWU Shield, the Gorillas were hopeful to complete the upset and continue their playoff run.
IWU’s highest rank player was their Jungler ‘Fable.’ Thanks to the scouting efforts of Head Coach Gabriel Cozart, the Gorillas identified his limited champion pool and exploited it in the draft by locking in the Udyr for Lambert, a lethal counter pick to Fable’s Ekko. This counter pick, in combination with a dominant performance from the Gorillas bot lane, handed them the 1-0 lead to start the series.
Lambert was happy with his personal performance in the match, especially after a clean game one.
“I believe I performed well in our games on an individual level. I did make a few mistakes, but none that overall lost us any game… I think we worked really well as a team. It is a major time commitment to try and play at not only this level but even higher professionally, so for the hours we spent we came out very far,” said Lambert.
Unfortunately, the Gorillas were unable to carry the momentum through the rest of the series. With the Shield putting their previously exploitable bot lane on safe mage picks, the Gorillas took 3 consecutive losses, ending the match and their season.
“I believe we performed well, getting into the top 16 of our brackets against so many other colleges, we had a very good shot at going all the way… I don’t believe we were in a good headspace for some of our matches, personally I needed to get more in tune with the game and be more proactive,” said Lambert.
The team possessed a low average rank compared to others in their tournament, and yet they were able to punch well above their weight, making their presence known. At this point in the tournament, they remain the only team that has been able to take a game off the tournament’s 3rd seed Oakland University, who advanced to the next round after winning their first playoffs match. And though their season has ended, this is only the program’s beginning.
“I’m looking to build this into academic programs, working with programs like broadcasting and business management… there’s a lot of different careers in E-sports that we could explore,” said Gabriel Cozart, PSU’s part time E-sports coordinator.
The program will be hosting tryouts for next year’s League of Legends, Valorant, and Overwatch teams starting in April. More information can be found soon on the PSU Esports Gorilla Engage page.