Story by Jordan Moffat
Despite being an unfunded esports program, ASU’s League of Legends team has dominated competition over the past few years by utilizing the power of a strong team bond.
This past year, they managed to go undefeated in the regular season and ultimately won the Western Conference finals over University of California Riverside’s team. They would take this momentum into the national championship tournament and
finish top 16 in the country.
Missy Ascension, the new president and manager of operations for ASU League said, “We’re very much our own dark horse team. We’re not loud or outspoken. We’re honestly like a group of friends who just compete and dominate. The power of
friendship’s a powerful thing.”
We’re kicking off #GatewayLegends Day 1 against @eSportsBSU today at 12:30 PM PST 🎉
Here’s a little peek at our jerseys for the event 👀
No stream today but we’ll post game updates after our match! pic.twitter.com/EjxPCLFKfD
— ASU League of Legends (@ASULeague) July 2, 2021
ASU League doesn’t operate like a typical collegiate esports team. They don’t swap out players constantly, they’re not recruiting former pro players to join their organization. Instead, they build their teams up in-house from the ground up. Their most recent roster had four out of five players play together for about two to three years, unlike other rosters that swap players in and out constantly.
Nathan ‘firetheft’ Harris, who plays top lane for the team, was the youngest and newest addition to the group but never felt out of place.
“I was a freshman this past year, and they were all a lot closer with one another, but I never felt like the odd one out,” said Harris. “I was never ostracized due to the age gap or experience difference.”
At the beginning of July, ASU League was invited to participate in Gateway Legends Collegiate Invitational, hosted by Maryville University in St. Louis. Due to COVID-19, this was one of the first times the entire team was able to get together in person and spend time with one another.
“Being able to spend that entire week with everyone was amazing,” said Ascension. “We did a lot of team bonding and it showed me that we’re more than just a group who plays League. We’re a family.”
ASU League would end up smashing through the competition before ultimately falling short in a contentious series against Maryville U.
“Maryville’s been kind of like our nemesis, every tournament we’ve competed in this past year we always run into them,” said Harris. “We’ll be on a great run until we hit the Maryville wall. Playing against them on stage just added to the hype of it all.”
Maryville would go on to win the entire tournament and ASU League would place in the top four.
Time to prove ourselves 🔥
Semifinals vs @MaryvilleGG
⏰ 10:00 AM PST
📺 https://t.co/NnHbd1DGlC pic.twitter.com/Z8wJ1ztStz
— ASU League of Legends (@ASULeague) July 4, 2021
As ASU League enters a new era under Ascension, much of their current roster outside of Harris is figuring out their next move.
“They’re still weighing their options of life versus esports and playing competitively,” said Ascension. “Some of the guys graduated, but some are looking at maybe going to grad school too and still playing.”
They hope to continue their dominant run over the Western conference this upcoming 2021-2022 season.