eSports League team aims to win nationals tournament for fifth consecutive year as start of its season Oct. 11

The+League+of+Legends+eSports+team+members+play+their+matches+against+Arcata+High+School+on+Tuesday+in+Room+42+on+Oct.+19.

Image used with permission from Cole Sass

The League of Legends eSports team members play their matches against Arcata High School on Tuesday in Room 42 on Oct. 19.

Alice Shin

Head coach: Gavin Sass

Top returning gamers: Myles Luhm (11), Nathan Park (11), Cole Sass (11), Garv Jain (10)

Top new gamer: Yoongeon Lee (9)

Last season: Despite the loss of three top players because of graduation and retirement of assistant coach Casey McDonald, the League of Legends eSports team members look forward to improving and establishing a stronger team play.

“… We are working hard to increase our team’s skill and defend our title as champions,” League of Legends eSports club co-president Cole Sass said. “I plan on making sure our team develops strong team play by exposing them to difficult games, situations and practice sessions.”

The team was undefeated during both last school year’s final tournament the fall California Interscholastic Federation [CIF] season but faced a defeat during spring finals. 

Outlook: With a winning streak of three as of Oct. 18 and the reigning CIF PlayVS Cup League of Legends champions, the Sunny Hills eSports League of Legends team began its season Oct. 11 with a 2-0 win against Fairmont Preparatory Academy, aiming to keep its fifth consecutive winning streak for the nationals tournament which will be held over the summer. 

“I am looking forward to a strong season for both the League of Legends team and the Smash team,” Deister said.

The team has a previous record of winning the Fall 2020 state tournament and placing second in the Spring 2021 state tournament.

All teams that participated in the spring tournament played from home from mid-March to May 15, in which Sunny Hills was among 16 other schools that made it to playoffs in the entire state of California.

Following the success of the past season, which ended in June 2021, Deister said she hopes to get the team more involved with playing and assisting each other by creating a website, “shoutcasting” — streaming the matches online along with a live narration — and producing videos.

“We do not have a website, [but] we would like to get one created,” she said. “A website displaying the club activities would be used to market the club to increase our membership and to keep our [members] and their parents informed,” she said.

As the League of Legends team progresses through the season, it prepares to go against some of its most competitive teams, including its biggest rival from last year, La Quinta High School, Westminster, in the Garden Grove Unified School District, she said.

Last school year, the League of Legends team beat La Quinta’s team 2-0 during the fall season CIF PlayVS playoffs; however, it faced a defeat of 1-2 during the spring CIF PlayVS finals but was able to make a comeback of 2-0 during the nationals tournament held over the summer.

Sass, who is the Jungler — the player who collects gold and experience by fighting monsters on the team’s side — thinks the members could improve on their team coordination throughout the season and recognize its vulnerability to face some losses.

Nevertheless, he remains optimistic for what this season holds.

“I believe that, with time and practice, we will definitely be able to win the state tournament,” Sass said. “Our team took a big loss of four amazing senior members from last year, but despite this, we still remain one of the strongest if not the strongest team in California, but our team has room for improvement.”

Likewise, freshman Yoongeon Lee, who has been part of the team for about a month and is the only freshman on the varsity squad, said he strives to devote time and practice to improving and hopes to reach Platinum, the fifth-highest of nine tiers, by the end of season 10 of League of Legends, which ends on Nov. 10. 

The nine tiers, in order, ranging from Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, Grandmaster and Challenger. 

“Honestly, reaching Platinum feels more of a team goal to me as all of my team and coaches help me throughout the climb,” said Lee, who is the Support in the team. “Being new to competitive eSports, new to high school and being the youngest member on the team is a little nerve-wracking, especially because I don’t want to disappoint my team. 

“I’ve only been here for a month, though, so there is still a lot of room for improvement.”

This season, seven games are part of the CIF Initiative through the PlayVS league — FIFA 21 Solos, League of Legends, Madden 21 Solos, Rocket League, Smash Ultimate, SMITE and Splatoon 2, Deister said. 

As a means of conducting inquiries fairly, CIF has created an event in which the person in charge of the sport has the option to apply for CIF sanctioning, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. However, for the time being, none of the seven games are CIF-sanctioned yet as they have not been submitted for approval by the National Federation.

Because Sass is the only Varsity League of Legends member remaining after the members from last year graduated, he said he aspires to unite and establish a strong relationship within the team.

We are planning on not just playing [games] as a team, but also going to team dinners, playing party games, etc., so that we feel like not just teammates, [but] also like family,” he said.

Following a 2-0 victory on Oct. 26 and securing its spot for playoffs with an undefeated 8-0 of matches won as of Oct. 28, the team is set to compete in another match on Nov. 2 although the opponent team is yet to be determined. Though the upcoming Nov. 2 match will not be available for streaming, games during playoffs will be available for streaming through the eSports Twitch account