University has started and esports societies around the UK have been caught up in the rush that is the sign-up for the NUEL’s Winter Championship. Everyone from wide-eyed freshers to comparatively sage post-graduates is looking forward to this Sunday when the competition begins. Two-hundred and ninety-two teams are going to be competing this year. For a rundown of the details on the new format, please click the link here.

With that out of the way, here is a quick preview of the teams and universities to keep an eye on, throughout the tournament, potential winners and memers alike.


Teams to watch

Grey Warwick (University of Warwick) – This team from Warwick were last year’s winners of the National Championship and could be considered the favourites for this year’s Winter Championship. They won last year’s final in dramatic fashion, managing to 3-0 the favourites and previous winners Aston Yellowtails (formerly Aunties) after base races in the first two, then a dogged defending in the third (link here). It was the monstrous performances from star player Kallon “kerber0s” Ram on Jax in all three games which pushed them across the line and secured them the series win.  A great year was rounded off by an appearance at the University Esports Masters European Qualifiers as the UK representatives. With only Matty Triceps left from the old Aston team, it would seem Grey Warwick have a clean path to the title. Yet it may not all be plain sailing as, with spots to fill in the jungle and midlane, they may have to rely on star toplaner kerber0s once again. Captain Philip “princephilip” Leung will be hoping that his new players will hit the ground running.

Strathy (University of Strathclyde) – The University of Strathclyde has a history of strong teams in the NUEL, UoS Fiya most recently performing well in the summer tournament. This Strathy lineup contains many familiar faces from streams gone by. Perhaps of particular interest Euan “Euan” Halliwell, a Nunu and Skarner main (#343 and #474 in the world, respectively, according to lolskill.net). Alastair “Eroop” Poore is a strong marksman to have, being a proficient Jhin and Lucian player. Too often Strathy have fallen short of the summit, but with the Aston Yellowtails star-studded lineup now disbanded and Warwick bringing in new blood, it may leave the door open.

DRG (University of Bath) – Droolio and the Gang is no more and only the tag remains. The self-proclaimed meme kings have lost their captain, ruler (and top bloke) Droolz. They managed to win the Lower National League Playoffs last year and even made it to the top of the Summer Tournament rankings before falling in the knockout stages. Spod, Bango and Maneki Man have retired from active duty leaving Alex “Asmodean” Niemira in charge. Bazzalisk and BioChipmunk are still there, but will they be able to live up to the lofty expectations set by the old guard? Time will tell.

UAE Monkey Cage (University of East Anglia) –  UAE Monkey Cage won the most recent Summer Tournament after finishing second behind Droolio in the group stage. Monkey Cage looks to have a strong lineup for the Winter Tournament, with jungler Lucas “Lolman07” Maurin standing out as one of the highest ranked players in the whole tournament, currently at over 600LP in Challenger. Definitely a team to watch out for, and a group of players that will be looking to continue their reign after summer.

The BUoYs (University of York) – York also have a history of strong teams. Most recently it was the York Vikings who made it to the finals of the Summer Tournament. This year, York’s finest are to be referred to as The BUoYs, captained by Freddie “Fredsta” Payne, the jungler for UK team Barrage Esports. The NUEL is no stranger to strong junglers (Aston Yellowtails/Aunties J3T and former EU LCS pro Impaler spring to mind). However, they are by no means a one-man team as, shown by the presence of Alex “Thulrog” Earle-Sodhi, a powerful Azir player in the midlane. They certainly have a team capable of taking top spot with plenty of star power, but whether they’ll be able to gel is a different matter.


Most represented Unis

In this section, we give some love to the universities that have managed enter truckloads of teams and players. Genuinely though, we have no idea how they manage it. With five to seven players per team, this probably means that these universities enjoy League of Legends.

DeMontfort University (13 teams)

Imperial College (11)

Sheffield Hallam University (11)

University of Warwick (11)

University of Birmingham (10)


Best team names

This is a fun (and to be honest my favourite) section as I get to use all three years of my degree in English to produce an in-depth analysis of every university’s attempt to make their mark on the world of League of Legends. Anyone who’s been to a pub quiz knows the importance of a team name and League of Legends is no different.

I Kent Believe It’s Not Butter (University of Kent) – captained by “Crotchety Crow”, this bird can’t believe it and neither can we. The use of “Kent” instead of “can’t” is a nod to their institutional overlords. It is a subtle change, but one that would bring a chuckle from anyone known to enjoy spreadables on their toast. The captain’s name could be seen as an even more nuanced reference to the three Cornish choughs (a bird from the crow family) which adorn the university’s coat of arms.  Margarine was actually invented in France in 1869 by a man named Hippolyte Mege-Mouries. He has nothing to do with Kent.

Rage Against the Pusheen (University of the West of England, Bristol) – captained by “TubGirlQueen”, this witty team name combines rock band with adorably drawn cat. This conjures images of angsty team members bowing before their feline deity that they intend to do “Killing In The Name Of”. Opposition teams will be going through a mixture of emotions when they encounter this team. After all, how could one be angry when encountering such a cute cartoon critter? Curiouser and curiouser…

Tahm to Take Out the Trash (University of Southampton) – “PrivatePayne” and his team have decided to subvert expectation. Rather than going for the tried and tested “Bench the Kench”, they decide to use the River King’s first name (he probably even lets them call him Tom). The joke is still somewhat cliche, but it is also subversively self-aware, the “trash” in question perhaps a reference to the tired “Uninhibit the Ribbit” memes.

The SHUgar Daddies (Sheffield Hallam University) – “Lord Rutherford” and his band of merry men are the “SHUgar Daddies” in question, extra points going towards the use of Sheffield Hallam SHU. “Lord Rutherford” is actually a reference to Ernest Rutherford, known to Wikipedia (and his mates) as the father of nuclear physics. He is the daddy to end all daddies. Pretty sweet, right?

The BUoYs (University of York) – captain “Fredsta” and his team have kept it simple. There is a Jack Kerouac quote that says, “One day I will find the words, and they will be simple.” This team only need two syllables to put across that they fancy themselves as the proverbial “lads” of the NUEL . The cheeky use of the UoY cements this as a masterpiece, compressing meaning into every letter. The manipulation of the word “buoy”, typically an object used for safety, but at the same time used to mark danger, contributes to the overall aesthetic and compression of meaning. It’s safety and danger all wrapped into one word, a contradiction in itself. Paradigmatic chains ensue as the words float, almost free of the page, yet anchored by League of Legends on a turbulent sea of meaning.


In case you missed the details…

This year’s tournament starts this Sunday 15th October. Teams must check-in by 5:30pm to be able to play. The captains’ meeting begins at 6:30pm. Teams will play three games a night with their first matches starting at 6:45pm.

James “Nilknarf” Franklin