The Redbird Esports League of Legends (LoL) team is set to continue its season at the League of Legends College Championship later this week. Advancing to the Elite 8, in its very first year of gameplay, the Redbird Esports LoL team will kick off its appearance in the quarterfinals, Friday, May 28 at 4 p.m. (CST).

The road to the League of Legends College Championship finals began with 381 collegiate teams, and now only eight remain in the running. “With this being our first season, I am extremely proud of all the players who have put in a lot of hard work to get to this point,” said head student coach Michael Pater, a sophomore computer science major.

Collegiate League of Legends has 15 conferences, with many of the most competitive teams falling into regional “North, South, East, and West” conferences. Similar to an NCAA basketball tournament, only a select number of schools make it out of their conference and move on to participate in the 32-team National Championship bracket.

The Collegiate Championship Tournament commences after a season of regular conference league play, with 28 teams qualifying through 6-0 and 5-1 records, and an additional four teams being chosen through at-large selection.

The Northern Conference, home to Redbird Esports, is widely considered the “hardest conference in Collegiate League” due to the outstanding caliber of its teams. Currently, this year’s Elite 8 is comprised of half Northern Conference teams. The high-caliber conference makeup is further validated by the number of automatic bid spots given to the Northern Conference in the Collegiate Championship Bracket (four). In addition, this year, Riot Game’s College Championship Selection Committee, gave three out of the four at-large selected spots to Northern Conference teams.

To solidify its place in the championship bracket, Redbird Esports took second place in its Northern Conference Finals, narrowly losing to Maryville University, the reigning national champions, giving the Illinois State team an automatic national bracket bid. From there, the team went on to best Farmingdale State College 2-0 advancing to the Sweet 16, and later beat Michigan State University 2-0 to advance to the Elite 8. According to Riot Games, Redbird Esports “have already shown that they’re not to be overlooked” as contenders in this year’s championship competition.

“As a program, we have been working hard since day one of preseason, and we hope we can finish out the season in first place to show Illinois State is a leading esports program in the collegiate space,” said Pater. While traditionally, the team would be competing in the finals in-person in Los Angeles, this year the championship will be held virtually due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Tune in to the livestream on Twitch or YouTube and join an expected 100,000-plus other viewers to watch your Redbirds take on Harrisburg University Friday at 4 p.m.