“So gather into groups, and discuss what really tilts you when you’re playing League of Legends,” Ivan Davies, aka Riot Conquisitor, instructs the group of students who move to talk amongst themselves.
Despite it being school holidays, students from schools across Adelaide have opted to spend their free time participating in a League of Legends tournament at Hybrid World. As part of the tournament, students take part in the sportsmanship workshop, which encourages students to think about their actions in games throughout the day, and how their behaviour might affect others: positively and negatively.
In order to take part, teams of five students needed not only get permission from the heads of their schools, but also come accompanied by a teacher.
“It was our students’ idea to compete in the tournament,” Bradley Booth, Mathematics Teacher at the Australian Science and Mathematics School, tells us. “One of our students came up to our deputy and told us there was a big event going on with a game they play and that they’d really like to compete as part of the school. From there, all we needed to do was check it out and get it organised.”
It was our students’ idea to compete in the tournament
Across two days, 14 schools came together to compete in games of League of Legends, with some schools fielding multiple teams. 50 computers were put aside for the tournament to ensure students were able to get enough games in, with an additional 10 being onstage in front of a crowd.
Some students were seasoned League of Legends players, with one student having recently won the online reality series ‘The Next Gamer’, while others were much newer to the game.
The students loved it… they had a good buzz
“The students loved it,” says Jane Logan, STEM coordinator at Findon High School. “They had a good buzz—even if they were slightly annihilated—but I think they were ready for this because their rankings were significantly lower going in. They learned so much by looking and playing, they were in good spirits. They’ve even arranged a friendly match with some of the other students after this.”
As part of the tournament, students participated in an hour-long workshop that focused on sportsmanship within League of Legends, encouraging students to draw on their in-game experiences as a catalyst.
“I didn’t know teaching sportsmanship with League of Legends even existed before this event,” says Logan. “So much of gaming is that you go and kill someone, it’s not really a team effort. But League of Legends is different, it’s excellent — especially some of the ethics behind it. It’s largely positive, and focused on bringing the team together, which is what we as teachers are trying to promote at the moment.”
League of Legends is different, it’s excellent — especially some of the ethics behind it. It’s largely positive, and focused on bringing the team together, which is what we as teachers are trying to promote at the moment
The workshop is built from the assets used to teach high school League of Legends clubs. Here, students are encouraged to look at the game through six different lenses—teamwork, respect, discipline, responsibility, resilience and positivity—coming together to discuss why these matter and when they are applicable. With plenty of games behind and ahead them at the Hybrid World tournament, students were encouraged to reflect on these throughout the day.
“All those soft skills are so important” says Logan. “Working together, creative and critical thinking, developing your growth mindset—those are the big things—as well as STEM (which we call STEAM because we bring the arts into it). We have a big arts focus at our school, more so than engineering, as a lot of students gravitate towards the arts path, so this ties in really well with the programs we encourage.”
The idea is to meet students where they are, utilising cooperative video games as a tool to teach important life values.
“I found the workshop quite interesting,” says Robert, student at Northern Adelaide Senior College. “I haven’t seen anything like it before. We have a League club at school—I only just joined the school at the start of this term and I was going through the League of Legends webpage and thought ‘Oh sweet! I go to a school that has a club!’—but I didn’t realise Riot were doing things like this.”
I found the workshop quite interesting, I haven’t seen anything like it before
The tournament itself saw these ideas put into practice. Students took to the game and played against each other in intense League of Legends battles, strategising and positioning in order to outplay their opposition. Some teams were comfortable playing alongside each other as they’d done so before, but other teams took a little time to get used to working as a team.
“My students started working together much more as the tournament progressed,” says Peter Hatcliffe, Maths & Biology Teacher at Adelaide High school. “In the first game it kind of looked like Solo Queue—they were all focusing on bits and pieces and not working together as a team—but after game three they started pulling themselves together. One of them became the shot caller and as a result some amazing plays came through.”
Tournaments on the main stage were streamed live via Twitch, being turned into VODS for post-tournament viewing. These games were casted by professional shoutcasters and pro players alike, including Jake ‘Spawn’ Tiberi, Dom Roemer, Tim ‘Carbon’ Wendel and Brandon ‘Claire’ Nguyen, with each day seeing an overall winner take the tournament.
Day one saw Adelaide High School T1 rally behind a huge bot-lane in Janna and Kog’Maw taking the finals against Glenunga International High School A, while day two saw the Australian Science and Mathematics School’s superior objective control enabled them to defeat Prince Alfred College. Both victors took home a Pulsefire Ezreal statue for their school, as well as each victorious player earning themselves a Triumphant Ryze skin and RP for their accounts.
But the day wasn’t all about winning. For some, it was about playing the game, others, it was about improving their skills, for Northern Adelaide Senior College, it was all about networking.
“We’ve been working hard to create a community as we play and stream esports from our school,” says Toby Fogarty, teacher at NASC. “For us, this tournament was interesting because it brought different teams together. We came here because we wanted to see what other schools play League. We have such a good venue and set up at NASC that we’d like to get others involved.”
“We’ve been trying to scout schools out and get them involved,” echoes Bailey Runholm, a student from NASC, “and this has been a good opportunity for us to do just that.”
“We’ve already had a high school club going so we were aware of the sportsmanship aspects of League” continues Fogarty, “but it’s been really cool to see how the Riot team interpret and put forward the principles of sportsmanship. For [my colleague] Ben and I that’s been really good, as we can take these teachings away and work out how to better incorporate the values of sportsmanship into our own lessons.”
…it’s been really cool to see how the Riot team interpret and put forward the principles of sportsmanship… we can take these teachings away and work out how to better incorporate the values of sportsmanship into our own lessons
“We’re already trying to incorporate these into the daily part of class, but using the right language and terminology always helps. We really want to create a non-salty environment in our class, which can be hard with 30 odd gamers, but I think we do pretty well overall. We have banter, but we draw the line before it gets out of control.”
The next League of Legends tournament to feature the sportsmanship workshop will be driven by Liverpool Boys High School and Kirrawee High School at Powerhouse Museum, November 21–22 in New South Wales.