Western, Ottawa gamers go after League of Legends College Championship

University gamers from Western Ontario and Ottawa are hoping to continue Canada‘s record of excellence at the .

The University of Toronto made it to last year‘s final, losing to Maryville University. UBC won the crown in 2015 and 2016.

Western and Ottawa open play Friday at the eight-team competition. Third-seeded Western takes on No. 6 Maryland while No. 7 Ottawa faces No. 2 UC Irvine.

The final goes Sunday.

"We‘re confident in our players," said Kyle Raposo, captain of the Western team. "Just like the rest of the world, we feel like we have a statement to make."

They will do so by casting spells, wielding weapons and relying on a champion in the popular online title, which developer Riot Games calls the most-played PC game in the world.

"The adrenalin is flowing every single day if I‘m being honest, during practice and whatnot," Raposo said. "It‘s definitely an experience of a lifetime to be here, representing Western and Canada in a sense."

Maryville, a school located just outside St. Louis that founded its esports program in 2015 and was one of the first U.S. colleges to offer esports scholarships, is back as top seed this year.

The two Canadian teams will meet in the semifinals if they advance. Western won 3-0 when they met in the final of the East conference.

Ottawa had had its own way before running into Western.

"I remember feeling very frustrated because I thought we were so strong," said Ottawa‘s Kenny Dang. "But this was a team that was better than us. So I definitely have a lot of regret. Hopefully we can meet them in the semis … for redemption."

The competition features five-player teams, although both Ottawa and Western have talent to spare by bringing in larger squads.

The championship is run by Riot Games, which says more than 300 schools competed in 2018. The finals are staged before a live audience in its NA LCS Studio.

At stake this weekend are bragging rights. The eight finalists have already earned scholarship money for getting this far with regional conference champions each earning US$8,000, and the runner-ups getting $4,000.

University of Ottawa

Ian Pessoa (Chimonaa1), Peter Shi (BlazedNova), Kyle Raposo (Shorthop), Winston Herold (JuIius), Andi Wang (o0OepicO0o), Emily Ding (Au .mily), Husni El-Farra (SleePpy), Dohyun Kim (Disconnector).

University of Western Ontario

Kenny Dang (Yoken), James Gilhespy (OpenBackpack), Jonas Kraft (digitalotus), Zaryab Syed (Hairyabs), Johar Syed (Exchanged), Kevin Lin (XPsionicsx), Nicolas Abanto Enns (Exver).