Gamers launch provincial e-sports league

Watch above: We are only days away from the launch of Saskatchewan’s E-Sports league. Global’s Sarah Kraus reports.

REGINA – Saskatchewan is behind the times when it comes to competitive video gaming, but League of Legends enthusiasts are hoping to change that with a new e-sports league.

“In Korea the scene is huge and in China too. In North America it’s getting pretty big,” said Blake Zanidean, one of the people behind SK League.

Organizers have set up a League of Legends tournament, which will feature amateur players, but professional players can make a good living off the sport.

“Some of these players are bringing in more than most hockey players do. It’s very large in most other places except for Canada,” said founder Matthew Rousseaux.

Two years ago, he tried to launch a local league, but it didn’t stick.

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“It got about a week into it and then it fell apart,” explained Zanidean. “It just didn’t have the manpower behind it.”

Now, a larger group of volunteers is trying to get the project off the ground once again, hoping sheer numbers change its fate.

“It is an incredibly popular game because it’s technically free to play. Anybody can jump in there and play it with minimal requirements,” said Rousseaux.

Originally, organizers wanted to see eight teams of seven compete in the tournament. To their great surprise, 33 teams and more than 230 players signed up.

“We’ve had quite a bigger turnout than we were expecting. It’s definitely good,” said Zanidean.

Both Zanidean and his friend Bailey Dietrich live in Saskatoon, while Rousseaux lives in Swift Current. Other players are spread out across the province. They are all united by their love of e-games, especially League of Legends.

“The game always remains fresh. They always update it. They always add new things to the game,” said Dietrich.

The players have been honing their League of Legends skills for years, spending countless hours experimenting with different heroes.

“At least an hour a night. But then if I have a lot of free time, it can easily turn into three or four,” said Dietrich. “There’s so much you can do, so much strategy around it. It’s really just a fun game to grab with your friends and play.”

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Each game runs between 20 minutes and an hour, depending on the efficiency of the team.

“As a team, you really have to rely on each other. Every person fills a role and you want to destroy the enemy’s base,” Zanidean explained.

Participants are entering the tournament with various levels of experience, all hoping to take home the top prize.

A few teams have even signed up from Alberta, willing to drive to Regina’s Matrix Gaming Centre for playoffs in the fall.

The qualifying tournament starts online Monday. Registration is closed, but playoff games will be streamed online.

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