The League of Legends University Series Winter Split pit 305 teams from across the UK against each other in a Swiss tournament bracket with only the top 32 earning their place in the Varsity division. The teams are not only competing for the title of being the best University League team in the UK but also a VIP trip to Berlin to watch the LEC and the honour of representing the GB at the University Esports Masters. The Varsity division is split into two different groups each containing 16 teams with an equal amount of teams from both the north and south regions. They will compete in a round robin format for 5 weeks before the top 4 from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals.
Rank 1 (lol.exe, University of Exeter)
The reigning 2018 champions take the number one spot with an 8-1 record in the much-contested group B of the varsity division. Lol.exe defeated what for some might be the number one team in Grey Warwick (8-1) during the first weeks games in a 28 minute stomp, that ended with the Exeter team over 13,000 gold up. A lot of this advantage came from Croftel in the midlane and high on anxiety in the adc position, which they will look to use to their advantage in the coming weeks. Being the title defenders and sitting atop their group leaves the Exeter squad prime favourites to take the competition home.
Rank 2 (Grey Warwick, University of Warwick)
Grey Warwick of Warwick University
Rank 3 (GGA, University of Warwick)
It would surprise no-one in the know that another Warwick team made the top 5 predictions, with the Warwick Esports society previously being a League society, it has some strong foundations and leadership that has set up its teams for success. Standing at an impressive 8-1 in group B with their only loss to Doing it for Drew (7-2), our 6th ranked team. GGA are hot on the heels of their competitors as well as the other team from Warwick, it remains to be seen though if can they take down their fellow brethren in Grey Warwick as well as some of the other talented teams in this competition that they will need to if they want to become the champions.
Rank 4 (UAE Monkey Cage, University of East Anglia)
UAE Monkey cage was one of the standout performers of the winter split, spending most of their time at the top of the table before falling in the final rounds to Grey Warwick in the South championship. They are standing strong with a 7-2 record losing to Surrey I Lagged (6-3) and CU in Elo Hell (3-6). However, having already suffered two defeats at the hands of the lower-ranked teams it remains to be seen if they can remain in the top tier of the table. They have also suffered from the creation of the UKLC losing support player Thekat to Bulldog Esports. This might explain some of their weaker performances compared to the winter split. Either way, they will be confident about their chances as long as they can ensure some more consistent play.
Rank 5 (Brunel Burners, Brunel University)
Brunel stand at 7-2 in group A, losing to the current UAE Monkey Cage (7-2) and Out of Synergy (6-3). This shows they are struggling against the other top teams, and that if they are to stand a chance of winning, then they will need to prove that they deserve it in the coming weeks. They will look to play around a strong midlane presence in Windz and Hi Im Jacob, both respectively the highest-ranked players in the lineup. However, they did not make top 8 in the winter split, perhaps showing they might struggle in the later knockout stages of the competition but they will be looking to take advantage of a weakened Warwick and Monkey cage squads who both lost key players to the new UK league.
Rank 6 (Doing it for Drew, University of Nottingham)
The team from Nottingham University led by their captain Articuno are used to success after their 1st place finish at King Of the North VI and will look to add to their silverware after an impressive 7-2 record after the first 9 games. After only losing out to top team lol.exe (8-1) and KCL Red (6-3) they will be confident in their chances of making a run. They will look to play around strong support and mid lane players in The heathen and Articuno their two highest ranked players, the former of which is currently sitting at Grandmaster 222lp.
To conclude, the race to be crowned the 2018/19 varsity division champions has only just begun, but it’s already hotting up. With 6 games still left in the round robin stage of the tournament most teams still have a shot of making it out. It remains to be seen whether a dark horse will be able to take down some of the best teams in the league but either way, it will not be easy for anyone.