The dream team

For most people League of Legends is just a game. However, seniors Justin Chau, Kevin Chen, Amy Liu, Matt Nieh and Dylan Truong decided to take it to the next level by creating an unofficial team and competing against other high schools in the High School Star League (HSL).

“We formed [HSL] because this is a chance and experience that most people don’t get,” senior Matt Nieh said. “Most people aren’t able to play competitively with games, but I gathered a group of people that are capable of competing at a somewhat decent level and represent Walnut.”

Prior to the formation of the team, the players were already well versed in the game and somewhat familiar with each other.  Knowing that each of them had the necessary skills to compete at a high level, they decided to join together.

“We made a team because we wanted to make a team so I could justify the amount of time that I spend on League.  [Making the team] was half and half, it was mine and Matt’s idea to make the team,” Liu said.

“[Playing against other schools] is actually pretty fun because I was kind of bored of League for a while so this spices it up again,” Truong said. “It gives me something to play for.”

Previous competitive League of Legends experience inspired Nieh to hand pick his own players to make up his own team to represent Walnut in competitions.

“I first was a sub for another team but they moved me to a different team and I didn’t exactly like the players that were on it.  I wasn’t comfortable playing with those players and instead decided to form my own team so I picked up players that I’ve played with for the past couple years and just gathered them up so we could play,” Nieh said.                          

Aside from playing the games themselves, the team also has to organize the games with the other schools, requiring Liu to step up as their team coordinator.

“I do the formal talking with the other teams. I go on the HSL website and check the brackets and see who is our opponent. Then, I try to contact that person and schedule a time,” Liu said.

To the entire team, playing as a unified requires a much different mentality as it requires all of the players to be on the same page at all times in order to succeed.  Despite this, all of the players are willing to adapt to this new way of playing.

“It’s a really different mentality. In solo queue, you just play for yourself. You try to carry the game yourself, but in competitive 5v5s you play for the team, and you have to follow what other people say. You can’t just do whatever you want,” Chen said. “[Playing as a team] is kind of like a different game. It’s a lot more fun when playing with five. You’re playing as one unit.” 

As a team, they have competed against three other high schools each in a best of two series, going 1-1 against Bonita Vista, 2-0 against Hamilton and 1-1 against Chaparral. During matches, they rely on each other to play different roles.    

“Everyone has their specific role in the team. They would consider me ‘the shot caller’ and we have other people like Amy who is our team coordinator and everyone has a part so I’m not the leader but everyone has a main role they need to play for the team to work,” Nieh said.

Even with their results, the team’s main goal is to get better at the game together rather than just winning the tournament and the prize money.

“We just want to get better as a team, we’re not aiming to win anything big,” Liu said. “We’re not trying to win HSL, we’re just trying to improve our individual skills and teamwork.”

By Austin Lam, Staff writer

Photo by Austin Lam