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University of Waikato to host High School League of Legends Championship

13 February 2020

University of Waikato Esports
The University of Waikato will be hosting the New Zealand High School League of Legends Championships this year.

The University of Waikato has announced they will be hosting one of the biggest esports tournaments to hit the country – the New Zealand High School League of Legends Championship.

This is the first time a New Zealand university will host an esports tournament of this kind, which is expected to see hundreds of secondary school students from around the country participating.

The University of Waikato has partnered with Riot Games, makers of popular esports game League of Legends, to deliver the event.

Chris Schubert, Head of Esports at Riot Games Oceania, says the event will be a valuable platform for young gamers.

“Organised League of Legends high school esports supports the next generation of young people in creating meaningful relationships, providing opportunities to represent their school and a different way for teachers to support the development and wellbeing of their students,” says Schubert.

“We are excited to see the University of Waikato contribute to the growth and development of gaming as a resource for education.”

During the first term of 2020, the University of Waikato esports crew will be supporting New Zealand high schools in setting up and registering teams in the league (competition).

Tom Featonby, Esports Coordinator and Manager of the university’s OMEN Esports Arena, says partnering with Riot to offer the tournament in New Zealand will be a stepping stone for future opportunities in esports.

“Our esports program at the University of Waikato aims to engage young people in positive esports experiences. Running this league, with the backing of Riot, is a perfect opportunity to achieve that goal at a national level.”

The competition will involve students from secondary schools around the country competing in an online league tournament during the second school term to determine who the top tier competitors are. From there, the best of the best will face off in an esports grand finale hosted by the University of Waikato on their Hamilton campus on 18 July.

The New Zealand winners will then compete for a chance to head to the Melbourne Esports Open in Australia to play in the ANZ Championships against an Australian state champion.

In 2018, the university was the first in New Zealand to offer an esports scholarship, and last year, they teamed up with OMEN (Hewlett Packard’s gaming brand) and PB Technologies to open the OMEN Esports Arena – New Zealand’s first dedicated university space for esports.

As part of the official opening of their esports space, the university also hosted a workshop by Riot Games called ‘One Workshop. All Play’, which was part of Riot’s initiative Learn with League – the world’s first gaming resource based on clinical research around gaming and wellbeing.

With the university making a mark on what has become the fastest growing industry in the world, Featonby says the university is making steps to becoming a key player in New Zealand’s esports scene.

“Each year, we are building and strengthening our place in the New Zealand esports ecosystem. We know that our students are gaming already, so this is the university’s way of supporting them and providing them with something special to be a part of.

“Our esports program, which includes the High School League, is a great opportunity for us to not just support young people gaming, but to also have a positive impact in their lives.

“That could be talking about the direct link between physical fitness and esports performance, or lighting a fire within them that will produce our esports stars of the future. Whatever it is, we will make a difference and will be around for a long time to come.”

Secondary Schools wanting to register for the High School League of Legends Championships 2020 can go here: https://www.waikato.ac.nz/go/hsl

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