LCS: How to Use College Players to Grow the NA Talent Pool

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images.
Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images. /
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league of legends
League of Legends College Championship (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images) /

North American LCS teams are failing to take advantage of a prime opportunity by tapping into the talent that exists at the college level.

College is an incredible place for student-athletes. While the student-athletes in major college sports certainly have some issues, it’s undeniable that they still get an incredible opportunity to grow as players and people.

Consider a player like Baker Mayfield, who was not even offered a scholarship out of high school, walked on at Texas Tech where he didn’t get to play, transferred (again without a scholarship) to Oklahoma, and eventually developed enough to win the Heisman Trophy and be drafted first overall in the NFL draft. My suspicion is that there are plenty of young League of Legends players who could follow a similar trajectory if the college system had a similar infrastructure or support.

Yet many players who were in the college system elected to leave after a short period of time to play in a league like Challengers Uprising. Clearly, players do not see college teams as organizations with the infrastructure to help them properly develop. Their leagues and games are not broadcast to a wide enough audience to justify staying for exposure (even though college athletes will soon be able to profit off their likeness, which means they could stream on the side) and without a path to professional leagues, they’re left without a reason to play in college.

If instead, college did have this sort of infrastructure and organization in place, players would not only have an incentive to stay for the play but also reap the additional benefits of college life. The opportunity to get a degree, to learn and develop social and academic skills, and just to mature as people is a great opportunity.

One other aspect that doesn’t get discussed nearly enough is that, unlike most other sports in America or Canada, there are no youth leagues for video games. If your high school didn’t have a team, college or amateur leagues might be the first time these young players are playing in a coordinated team environment. That is another huge opportunity for young players to develop.