UIC competitive gaming group wins $20K in competition

DOTA 2 team members celebrate their win at the 2019 Collegiate StarLeague competition.
DOTA 2 team members celebrate their win at the 2019 Collegiate StarLeague competition.

UIC Competitive Gaming Club’s DOTA 2 won first place and $20,000 in the Collegiate StarLeague competition May 30.

The team is ecstatic about winning the title this year after placing second during last year’s in-person event in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Due to COVID-19, this year’s competition was moved entirely online.

DOTA 2 game

“This year, we were not taking anything but first place, so I was very happy with the win,” said Samir Al Ali, DOTA 2 team member and a junior in information and decision sciences.

DOTA 2 is a strategy game that allows two teams of five to challenge one other using characters that have various strengths and weaknesses.

“A lot of the strategy comes in where you have to figure out how to draft a good lineup of characters that work well together and work well against the enemy characters, and then the objective is sort of like capture the flag, where you have to work your way up to get stronger every game and destroy the main structure of the enemies base,” said Michael Lederer, DOTA 2 team manager recent UIC computer science graduate.

The collaboration created the tight-knit group of friends. Other members of this year’s team include Michael Pekala, Xiaoyun Chen, Charles Liu and Nikita Mashchenko.

“I’m happy with the players I’m playing with right now — they’re all my very close friends we’ve put in a lot of close hours together. We’ve practiced a lot and they definitely deserve this win,” said Al Ali. “It’s a very team-oriented game — you can’t win it alone. Basically you need every single one of your teammates to win the game.”

Lederer founded the team three years ago.

“If you told me three years ago, ‘Hey you’re going to put together a team and you’re going to get second place after one season and then the season after that you’re going to get first place and you’re going to win $20,000,’ I’d call you crazy,” Lederer said.

The team is part of UIC’s Competitive Gaming Club, a large community of students who play games casually or want improve their skills through collaboration. The club offers a lot of different genres, from tabletop games to eSports. Besides DOTA 2, other UIC eSport teams include Apex Legends, CS:GO, League of Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege and Rocket League.

“We host a wide range of events, catered to our community of 350+ UIC students and 1,000+ Discord members,” said Maria Sales, president of the Competitive Gaming Club and senior in music performance. “One of the aspects of our goal is to shed light on eSports, which is a growing, competitive sport using video games.”

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