Peach Belt Embraces eSports

January 5, 2018

The Peach Belt Conference and Riot Games, the creator of League of Legends, have announced a partnership to establish the Peach Belt League of Legends championship for the spring of 2018. The Peach Belt becomes the first NCAA conference to compete as part of the College League of Legends season.

"This is a monumental day for the Peach Belt Conference and those students at our member schools who have dedicated themselves to making this endeavor a success," said PBC Commissioner David R. Brunk. "We are very grateful to Riot Games for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to forge a new path for NCAA conferences."

The PBC will hold its first College League of Legends regular season competition this month. Eight teams will advance to the Peach Belt League of Legends championship, an in-person tournament in March. The champion and finalist from that tournament will earn spots in the College Championship Play-In, with the opportunity to advance to the League of Legends College Championship, held in June at Riot's NA LCS Arena in Los Angeles.

"2017 was a big year for College League of Legends and this partnership with the Peach Belt paves the way to make 2018 even bigger," said Michael Sherman, who leads Riot's competitive college program. "This gives players the same competitive experience as athletes in 15 other competitions - a big step toward making League of Legends a sport that lasts for generations." 

The PBC held its first League of Legends competition during the fall with a preseason schedule over five weeks. Seven conference schools participated; the league will add more teams for the regular-season competition. The PBC announced its intention to begin esports competition last summer.

"From the beginning, we understood that this was an opportunity to engage students at our member institutions who had no connection with our conference at all," said Brunk from the PBC offices in Augusta, Ga. "The Peach Belt Conference has always been about more than athletics; whether it is our spirit competition or art exhibition or any other number of events that expand the boundaries of traditional college athletics.  Our Board of Directors along with the vice presidents and vice chancellors for student affairs have been at the forefront of this idea and their leadership has helped make this a reality."

Launched in 2009, League of Legends is a fast-paced, team-oriented online game where two teams of five compete in intense 5v5 battles that require strategic thinking, lightning reflexes and coordinated team-play. Over 100 million people play League of Legends each month, making LoL the most-played PC video game in the world. 

The College League of Legends Season will have over 300 teams competing in 2018.  The Peach Belt Conference champion and runner-up will advance to the College Championship Play-In starting on April 9 where they will face the runners-up from the regional conference playoffs. Those teams will compete for four of eight spots in the League of Legends College Championship, which will be held in Los Angeles starting June 7. The other four spots in the finals will go to the regional playoff winners.

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