Lindenwood adopts the esports program as their 46th intercollegiate athletics team


Commonplace eSports athletes compete at the 2016 League of Legends North American Championship Series.
Photo from Wikimedia

Libby Geringer, Reporter

For most college athletes, getting ready for a game means warming up, stretching, and making sure you’re hydrated throughout the day, but Sam Schellenberg’s routine is a little different: he makes sure his settings are correct on his computer, puts his headphones on, and plays a warmup game.

Esports has officially been added to Lindenwood University’s Intercollegiate Athletics program after its formation as a student organization last year. The team has also qualified for varsity status by Tespa Collegiate Varsity Network. This gives them the opportunity to earn scholarships while competing against the highest level of competition in the country.

According to Game Designing, organized, competitive video gaming has been integrated into collegiate athletics since 2016 when only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs. Now adopted by Lindenwood, the addition allows for another way to attract students while celebrating diversity of interests within the student body.

Schellenberg participated on the track and field and cross-country teams in high school. Now a top-laner for League of Legends, he says this opportunity allows him to continue competing, working with a team, and setting and achieving personal goals.

“In cross country, I would set personal records for myself,” Schellenberg said. “I love this [esports] because I feel like there’s nothing other than my mental fortitude barring me from being on the top.”

League of Legends is a team-based strategy game where two teams battle against each other to destroy the other’s base. The game map is divided into lanes where players are assigned to make plays, secure kills, and overcome obstacles to take over towers in a fight to victory.

“There’s roles that are assigned in the game. There’s top lane, which is what I do for Lindenwood University, mid and bottom lane,” Schellenberg said.

Between the lanes are pockets of jungle divided in half by a river. Five roles are assigned: top, jungle, middle, bottom, and support.

“When I started, I fell in love with a character named Lee sin. There are 140 to 150 characters. He’s a blind monk,” Schellenberg said.

Each character, called a champion in the game, has a unique toolkit which makes them more or less fit for certain roles and situations in the game.

“Every champion has four abilities he can cast – three main abilities and an ultimate,” Schellenberg said. “Along with interactions between other champions, there’s a ton to know.

“This champion is meant to be in the jungle, but I played him in a lane and I was crushing anything and anyone in my way with the champion and I kind of fell in love with the game. Once you get good at something or even start to find success with something you can naturally fall in love with it from there.”

A picture of the League of Legends team dashboard. Photo provided by Sam Schellenberg.

An esports room has been set up on the third floor of the library where team members can practice together. The team makes sure they have practiced with a variety of champions to strategize according to their next opponent.

“When you play, you’re not 100% set on a chosen character,” Schellenberg said. “If someone [on the other team] picks a certain person, you need to pick a character to fit your team’s composition because there’s five people on your team.

“Or you pick a champion to counter a champion on the enemy team. There’s a lot of thought and strategizing that goes into it.”

Their season play begins next semester, but until the university assigns a coach, the team will be unable to participate in the Overwatch Collegiate Varsity Series and the Hearthstone Varsity Division Championship hosted by Tespa this fall.

“Right now, we practice. We play ranked games on our own, I believe the number is 14 a week, and have partners to do this with. We scrimmage 5v5 against each other as well as others [universities]. We scrimmaged against SEMO this week and are constantly improving and trying to get better,” Schellenberg said.

Esports is accessible, popular, and now provides opportunity for scholarships. Any students interested in joining the program can email [email protected] for more information.