The University of Maryland's League of Legends team has a chance to establish a reputation for success early in the collegiate eSports era.
In the first season of the Big Ten Network League of Legends conference, Maryland's team defeated Ohio State in a regional final to secure a place in the conference final Monday against Illinois. The win also earned Maryland one of 10 spots in the 2017 League of Legends postseason, which will feature top university teams from the United States and Canada.
Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends, partnered with the Big Ten Network earlier this year to create a competitive season with 12 teams representing Big Ten schools. Maryland won four of its five games against teams from the East Division and advanced to the playoffs. In a game broadcast on BTN2GO on Monday, Maryland beat Ohio State, 2-0, to win the East Division.
Now, Maryland's team will prepare for the conference finals against Illinois, the West Division champs. The game will be broadcast live at 6 p.m. Monday on the Big Ten Network.
If Maryland wins the conference championship, it will play again at the end of May in the League of Legends College Championship in Los Angeles. If Maryland loses to Illinois, though, the team will head to a wild card round the first two weekends of April, which will whittle down five conference runners-up to three that advance to Los Angeles.
Maryland advanced to the semifinals of last year's national tournament, the uLoL Campus Series, for which 32 teams qualified. Three players who were regular starters on last year's team lead Maryland again this year: Winston "tahx" Zhou, Jon "Yami" Yang and Martin "White" Kwan.
Each player receives $5,000 in scholarship money for participating in the season.