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St. Louis Is ‘The Talk Of Esports’ As Gamers Converge For 'League of Legends' Tournament

Team Liquid won last year's North America League of Legends Championship Series in Miami.
Riot Games
Team Liquid won last year's North America "League of Legends" Championship Series in Miami.

A "League of Legends" tournament final this Saturday at the Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University is expected to draw thousands of esports enthusiasts from around the country.

“Literally every single ticket in the house was gone in about 48 hours,” said Kelsie Woodward, the venue’s marketing director. “While we are expecting local fans and gamers, we are getting people from all over the world coming to this.”

Esports involve multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers.

The match will be the last of the two-month North America (NA) "League of Legends" Championship (LCS) Series hosted by Riot Games, the developers of the multiplayer online video game "League of Legends." Team Liquid and Team SoloMid have emerged as the final contenders out of 10 teams and will face off in best-of-five matches. Team Liquid will be looking to win its third consecutive NA LCS championship. 

Related: What is League of Legends?

Team Liquid
Credit Team Liquid / Riot Games
Riot Games
Team Liquid winning its second straight 2018 NA LCS Championship

The winner will earn $100,000, with the losing team taking $50,000. The game will also determine which team represents North America in the annual Mid-Season Invitational in Vietnam and Taiwan in May. It’s the second-most-important international tournament, aside from the world championship.

This will be the first time St. Louis has hosted a major esports event. Many local competitive gamers are planning to attend, with some hoping the event will enhance the city’s reputation as an esports mecca. With collegiate esports on the rise, some local university staff members are planning to show up.

“You have giant teams like Maryville and Columbia College, which are among thetop five teams in North America for collegiate esports,” said Brandon Clark, the head coach of Fontbonne University’s esports program. He added that the National Association of Collegiate Esports is based in Kansas City. Not to mention, Riot Games, the event’s sponsor, has an office in St. Louis.

“Having LCS finals come to St. Louis is just another big step in solidifying St. Louis and the Midwest in becoming this hotbed for esports,” he said. 

Nicholas Chiu, who heads St. Louis University’s esports club, gave tickets to faculty members. He said Saturday’s event has prompted talk about how to expand esports at the university. He is part of a new committee looking into how esports could improve recruitment and retention at SLU.

“With that huge event coming up so soon, everyone’s eyes are going to be on St. Louis. That’s why all these talks are happening now,” said Chiu. “We are right now the talk of esports.”

Follow Andy Tsubasa Field on Twitter@AndyTsubasaF.

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