Montreal is finding its way in esports

Montreal’s esports scene is growing, with the city finding its place in collegiate esports, international esports events, and the welcoming of gamer-oriented spaces such as the Montreal Esports Academy and Esports Central

Montreal is home to many outposts of game development companies such as Ubisoft, Bethesda, and Electronic Arts. While game development itself might be ingrained in the city, its esports scene is still developing.  Dimitri Kontogiannos, a graphic designer, founding member of the Concordia Esports Association, and vice president of the Quebec Esports Federation believes the best has yet to come. “I think there’s a difference in game philosophy and the type of game developers we have in Montreal. If we look at games traditionally Montreal developers have put forward […] they’re really games that come out year-to-year.”

Even with its history in game development, the city’s gaming scene is still somewhat split into two worlds. The story-based games that Montreal’s developers usually put out often don’t match with the esports model, where games are designed purely for online competition and updated regularly by the developers. 

“Your League of Legends, your Counter-Strikes, they’re really games that have been supported long term by the dev […] Montreal developers weren’t really leaning towards that style of game creation,” Kontogiannos explained. 

There are some exceptions. Notably, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege has amassed a huge esports following since its conception, with four participating leagues in Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. Montreal is home to the game’s Six Invitational, a yearly international tournament where teams compete for a prize pool of up to 3 million dollars. After being set in Paris for 2021, the invitational was supposed to return to its home city of Montreal in 2022. Unfortunately, due to Quebec’s stringent COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, the tournament was again relocated to Stockholm, Sweden, where it was held in February.  

DreamHack is one of the world’s biggest LAN events that tours the globe, offering different competitions and experiences at each destination.  Montreal was DreamHack’s Canadian destination between 2016-2019, but was unfortunately canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19.  Dreamhack is also not scheduled to come to Montreal for its 2022 season. Only time will tell if the LAN will eventually return to the city, but Montreal’s gamers will surely be ready for it.    

While these events are pillars of Montreal’s involvement in esports, where the city shines is its collegiate scene. “It was really impressive when we had multiple universities next to each other that competed in esports […] they’re all downtown and within walking distance of each other,” said Kontogiannos, who’s seen the rise of Montreal’s collegiate scene since its beginnings. “That was kind of a lot of fun to play with when we’re organizing collegiate events or grassroots events or even local bars or LAN centres.” 

Matisse Fortier, otherwise known as “Oracle”, is a player for Concordia’s collegiate League of Legends Team. “The competition is really fun. I like feeling the adrenaline of playing an intense match,” said Fortier. The team plays in the CSL Esports league, in which they battle against other collegiate teams across North America for a prize pool of $10,000. Throughout a season of six weeks, teams go face-to-face weekly in a best of three format until the top contenders progress to the playoffs. Fortier is currently in his second season playing for Concordia’s League of Legends team, who are currently in the playoffs. “I have been doing tournaments for a while, I think it’s always been a good way to meet people who have similar interests as me,” he remarked. “It’s the way the game is meant to be played.”  

With the help of Montreal Esports Academy, high schoolers are also getting their esports fix in an environment that encourages a healthy, balanced lifestyle. According to their website, the academy is an extension of Canada Esports Academy, and is partnered with three high schools in Montreal who incorporate esports into their academic experience. Students enrolled in the Montreal Esports Academy’s program get professional coaching on various games and are surrounded by like-minded students striving to compete.

“We try to teach people that esports isn’t a bad thing,” said Helmrich Vogt, the academy’s head of business development and administration. Helmrich said that the academy’s program helps the student’s mental and physical health through mandatory exercises. Vogt explained that the academy’s emphasis on health helps to ensure that the students don’t only focus on being better gamers, they are also taught using a multi-faceted approach to esports training that will give them “more energy”, and can even help to “improve their reaction time” in game,. With the program, “a lot of the students are more motivated to go to school,” he remarked.  

Esports Central Gaming Complex has many Pc’s, Play stations, X-boxes and Nintendo Switches available to play. KAITLYNN RODNEY/THE CONCORDIAN

In 2019, a new home for Montreal’s gamers and esports enthusiasts was born, Esports Central.  The establishment takes its own twist on the traditional “gaming café,” offering both state of the art gaming facilities and a bar environment. The complex has received partnerships with Redbull where they held a part of Redbull’s Player One tournament. Esports Central hosted Canada’s Player One qualifiers in 2019, in which the top players would go on to compete internationally, according to Redbull’s official website.

The facility is equipped with top of the line PCs, racing simulators, groups of friends can even rent out a couch station to play together on the latest consoles. While some gamers prefer climbing leaderboards, others prefer a chill, social environment where they can just have fun. Esports Central provides a space for both, making it a gaming hotspot for “tryhards” and “casuals” alike.

Esports has taken the globe by storm. According to an article by Statista, esports market revenue worldwide is predicted to increase to 1.62 billion USD by 2024, a large increase from 2021’s projection of 1.08 billion. While the market is rising worldwide, Asia dominates the scene. Asian viewers are predicted to make up “50 per cent of more than 1 billion esports and game viewers by 2025,” according to an article by GreenBook. And it’s not just the viewers. Teams from Asia are known within esports for their notorious skill compared to teams from other regions.

“I think, honestly, it might just be a pure numbers game,” said Kontogiannos. “That’s what happens when you have a billion people,” he said jokingly regarding China specifically. “Your player base is so much bigger down there.”

While Montreal’s esports scene is still in development, the future looks bright. With a sprawling collegiate scene and the city’s embrace of esports through Esports Central and staple events like DreamHack Canada, there is still more room for growth as the esports market continues to boom. “I also maybe see one of these world finals type of events for League of Legends or even a CS:GO major potentially in Montreal,” stated Kontogiannos, arguing that the city’s facilities are more than capable of hosting a major esports event. “The main criteria these guys look for […] is transport, hotels, distance to venue, and […] international airports, and Montreal has all those.”

The groundwork for Montreal’s esports scene has been set. With the city slowly coming back to life after heavy COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll have to wait and see how esports continues to manifest itself into Montreal’s entertainment and sports cultures. Although, with the rising growth of esports worldwide, there is no doubt that the city’s esports landscape will continue to follow the trend.


Photos by Kaitlynn Rodney


Colour Commentary: Worlds 2021 is here

The League of Legends World Championship in Reykjavík, Iceland is underway

For the past few years, I’ve fallen out of touch with playing League of Legends. But right around this time of the year, when the world championships begin, I constantly find myself catching the action, entranced in the esports competition that never fails to impress. 

When my high school friends and I discovered the game in 2010, we had synchronized schedules which enabled us to indulge in our near-nightly tradition for most of my teenage years. 

Since then, League of Legends has grown exponentially both in-game and externally from a competitive perspective. While esports and other titles in the gaming industry have subsequently evolved in turn, many gamers credit the early days of League as the birth of the thriving community of gamers we see today. 

I’ll load into Summoner’s Rift, the classic and most commonly played map in League of Legends, from time to time nowadays, but my days of grinding solo queue and teaming up with four of my best friends with the far-fetched hopes of going professional are long gone. Definitely for the better.

But I can’t lie; seeing some of the familiar and legendary faces I grew up watching in the League of Legends scene battle it out against the budding young players that are on the cusp of greatness reinvigorates my itch to play the game. 

Last year, the World Championship was held in Shanghai, China, in front of a whopping crowd of zero for all the games except for the finals amid the pandemic. I still had a good time watching the tournament but admittedly, the experience with no fans left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, this year’s edition of the tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland, will not have a live audience as well.

As is the case every year, teams gather from a number of different regions to compete for the chance to hoist the Summoner’s Cup and earn the title of World Champion. And as usual, the teams from Korea and China are slated as betting favourites to win it all, with teams from Europe lurking close behind and capable of the dramatic upset on occasion. 

North America will once again try to put an end to their everlasting disappointment in international play. I’m rooting for them, but I’ve honestly grown numb to the annual heartbreak and I’ve learned to not take it personally. 

Now please excuse me as I shamelessly reacquaint myself with the game and load into Champion Select. 


A League of Legends World Championship like no other

Esports without in-person viewers leaves much to be desired.

The annual League of Legends World Championship is no stranger to highlights and upsets, and this year is no exception. Through two weeks of the championship, the level of competition is at an all-time high, and the record-breaking viewership numbers on the broadcast streams suggest Worlds 2020 hasn’t skipped a beat.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Riot Games, tournament organizers and developers of League of Legends, to proceed without fans in attendance, meaning highlights that would normally have a sell-out arena going wild are now being greeted by a deafening silence that even broadcasters struggle to fill in.

Patryk Surowiak, President of the Concordia Esports Association (CESA), believes that esports are built on fan interaction and attendance above all else, including the video games themselves.

“It’s true that at its core, esports is played on a computer at home,” Surowiak said. “But the industry has grown so much over the years, where it’s now entirely built on the fans and these in-person events that draw the attention of thousands of people from around the world.” 

As President of the university’s club, created for casual or competitive gaming enthusiasts, Surowiak does a little bit of everything. He helps team coordinators get their teams and players together, helps set up the intramurals in accordance with Athletics and Recreation, and handles conversations with outside partners and sponsors.

Surowiak is also a proud and skilled gamer. He currently plays at a semi-professional level in Riot Games’ free-to-play multiplayer tactical first-person shooter Valorant, but it was the studio’s first hit game in League of Legends that captured Surowiak’s attention as a teenager back in 2012.

“I made a new friend in my first year of high school who introduced me to the game,” Surowiak said. “From there, I was instantly hooked and got really interested in the competitive side of the game, especially the professionals at the time.”

While Surowiak has broadened his gaming library over the years, he credits League of Legends for sparking his overall love for esports that has persisted to this day. 

“I try my best to watch all the Worlds matches with video on demand but it’s been hard with games taking place in Shanghai,” Surowiak said. “At the end of the day it’s Worlds. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

While esports as a viewing product has suffered slightly from COVID-19, there has never been a better time for the industry. The practice of social distancing has forced many to sit tight in the confines of their homes, and gaming provides a convenient distraction for people looking for social interaction and competition.

Surowiak described the experience of arranging events as President of the CESA during the pandemic as difficult.

“We usually hold viewing parties for Worlds at the school, and last year over a hundred people showed up,” Surowiak said. “It was a fun event that built gaming fans, friendships, and ultimately helped grow the club.”

Instead of another year of development and growth for the club, Surowiak faced a number of unprecedented challenges. The pandemic ultimately forced him to cancel most of its 2020 events.

“At the pinnacle, esports wasn’t too heavily impacted by COVID-19,” Surowiak said. “However, for the Concordia club, it was definitely a major hurdle. The club was prepared to work with multiple new sponsors and partners that would have bolstered the Concordia esports association.”

This year, the CESA and its Rocket League team will be competing in the Ontario Post-Secondary Esports League. The Concordia team will be the only Quebec school represented in the year-long collegiate tournament that began on Oct. 5.

The eventual return to in-person normalcy will likely cause the esports’ surge to stagnate, but the industry has been forever popularized in a meaningful way. The League of Legends World Championship is drawing people’s attention more so than ever as one might expect from a year devoid of social interaction.

However, regular fans realize that this year’s tournament will be a bittersweet memory. Ultimately, no matter how spectacular the matches, viewers will remember how it could have been if not for the pandemic.

You can catch the remaining Worlds action live or on-demand at the official League of Legends esports site

Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam


The 2020 League of Legends World Championship is on

A primer to the biggest esports event in the world

On Sept. 25, the 2020 League of Legends World Championship Play-In Stage began in Shanghai, China. This year marks the 10th edition of the biggest esports event in the world, and features the top teams from regional leagues around the world in a battle to earn the title of world champion. With one week of action wrapped up and many more to come, here’s everything you need to know before the championship’s main event.

What is League of Legends?

League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) video game, developed and published by Riot Games in late 2009. It quickly became one of the most popular video games in the world, and is one of the most recognized esports games to this day.

It’s a five-on-five team game where players assume the role of a “champion,” each equipped with a unique set of abilities.

Gameplay can often be tough to comprehend, as chaotic skirmishes ensue across Summoner’s Rift, representing the map and settings where every match of the 2020 World Championship will be played.

Unfamiliar viewers looking to catch some action should know that the objective of each match is quite simple: destroy the enemy base before they can destroy yours.

What’s the format of the tournament, and who is competing?

The tournament began with the Play-In Stage, wherein 10 teams were split into two groups of five. Each group played a single round-robin cycle, where the top two teams from each group advanced to the Group stage.

For a recap of the first week of Worlds 2020, check out the Weekly Rundown provided by Riot Games.

On Oct. 3, the main event began with the Group Stage where 16 teams are split into four groups. Each group consists of one Play-In team, and three other teams that earned their spot in the Group Stage based on regional ranking. Groups are randomly selected, but balanced; the top seed from the four major regions earns the right to be separated in the group stage.

On Oct. 15, the Knockout Stage will transition to a single-elimination bracket consisting of the top two teams from each group. All matches will be played in a best-of-five format that will conclude on Oct. 31, where the team that comes out on top will be crowned the 2020 World Champions.

A region’s seeds are earned based on past international performance. A strong region will send most, if not all, of their seeds straight to the group stage, whereas weaker regions receive fewer seeds and/or must start in the Play-In Stage. The four main regions are China and Europe, who have a total of four seeded teams, as well as South Korea and North America, who have three representatives. Twenty-two teams will be competing this year.

What teams should I look out for?

There are new faces looking to set a new standard for competitive esports; regional legends looking to re-write history and cement their names in international League of Legends lore; and multiple Canadian players to watch. Here’s a brief rundown of teams to look out for whether you’re a die-hard consumer of esports or a casual fan looking to get your feet wet.

  1. Top Esports (#1 seed, China) and G2 Esports (#1 seed, Europe): Top Esports (TES) has a dynamic duo in Knight and Karsa in the mid-lane and jungle respectively, and is the top seed from the top region in China. If you’re looking to watch the highest level of gameplay, look no further. G2 is coming off another year of regional dominance led by their star mid-laner Caps, who continues to raise the bar for his team by displaying calculated aggression and IQ at all stages of the game.
  2. Team SoloMid (#1 seed, North America) and Fnatic (#2 seed, Europe): Two of the oldest franchises that have been around since the dawn of League of Legends, Team SoloMid (TSM) and Fnatic have some of the largest fan-bases in esports. Both teams enjoy regional success on a regular basis, but have failed to obtain international success as world champions, except for Fnatic’s Season 1 Worlds victory in 2011.
  3. FlyQuest (#2 seed, North America): FlyQuest has two high-profile Canadian marksman players on their roster in Toronto’s WildTurtle and Mississauga’s MasH. The team uses both players interchangeably, giving FlyQuest additional flexibility that most teams cannot match.

Where can I watch?

The event is taking place in Shanghai, but all Worlds matches can be watched on-demand on the official League of Legends esports site.

Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Second League of Legends team aims to qualify for playoffs

New squad took time to develop chemistry but have found success together

Concordia’s new League of Legends Esports team is heading full speed towards the 2019 playoffs.

This is Concordia’s second League of Legends team, or the B team, which currently sits in third place in its division in the Collegiate Starleague (CSL). The team still has the winter semester to qualify for playoffs.

“We can definitely make it to quarter finals at least,” said Charles Morin, the team’s coach. “It all depends on how dedicated we are and how much we play as a team.”

League of Legends is an online role-playing video game in which a very large number of people participate simultaneously. Two teams of five players—who occupy different roles—play against each other until a final objective has been destroyed by one of the teams.

After a summer internship in management at StyroChem, Morin linked his passion for League of Legends to the knowledge he had gained at his internship. Since he didn’t play as much as he used to but still understands the game well, Morin approached the president of the Concordia Esports Association, Dimitri Kontogiannos, to be a coach. He offered Morin that position—a status Morin claims suits his personality.

“I always found myself more of a coach,” Morin said. “Even with my friends, I was like a leader.”

After two weeks of tryouts in September 2018, Morin filled the five spots on the team. Since players usually master one of the five roles, the coach was lucky to find players who practise different positions on the map.

The map is divided into three lanes—top, middle and bottom—that are separated by jungles. Three players occupy the top lane, the middle lane and the jungle respectively, while the two last players fight for the bottom lane.

To be part of the team, players had to meet certain requirements. They needed to be full-time students at Concordia and had to be dedicated to multiple practices during the week, including one game per week.

A key skill players needed was communication rather than raw talent for the game. Just like other team sports, League of Legends is based on a team’s ability to synchronize their movements around the map, and act upon different situations to win.

“At the beginning, it was tough because no one knew each other,” Morin said. Every player came from a different department of the university, but it didn’t stop them from meeting, because they practice from the comfort of their own homes.

“One day I was like ‘guys we’re not doing practice, we’re going to a bar’ and that was the first time we actually met up,” said Morin. “I think that after that day, we became more friends than just a team.” After that, the players quickly built chemistry, which inevitably made them a better team.

As the fall season progressed, the players started practising on their own, taking initiatives without the coach’s intervention. Since coaches can’t talk to their players or watch competitive games live to avoid cheating, players have to put their communication skills into practice to coordinate plays. Thanks to his deep understanding of the game, Scott Dejong quickly became the voice of the team.

“[Dejong] looks in the future of the game and tells us what we’re supposed to do in two minutes, five minutes or ten minutes,” said Luca D’Ambra, the team’s mid lane player. “As long as we follow his calls, we should win the trades with the other teams.”

Dejong also became the centre of the team’s jokes. As a support, his task is to assist one of his teammates, called the attack damage carry (ADC), to put him at an advantage on his counter enemy. However, Dejong showed a better understanding of the game than most of his team, which is ironic considering his job is to support rather than attack the opponents.

“All the stupid things come from the ADC and the support,” said Arthur Tourneyrie, the team’s top lane player. “We just always tease the bot lane because, in terms of rank, our support is much better than our ADC.”

By joining a team, the players found themselves setting personal goals, and improving on aspects they didn’t think needed tweaking.

“When I play alone, I usually don’t communicate,” D’Ambra said. “I hope to increase [my communication skills] way more, like try to get a more macro sense of the game, not just single player skills but more how everyone should be doing on their team, who should be doing what at what time.”

Even though the team wants to qualify for playoffs, the players’ main goal is to have a blast with their friends playing their favourite game.

“It’s just a hobby kind of thing,” Tourneyrie said. “If we make it to playoffs and if we just play to our full potential—at least feel like we’ve done our best—it would be really great.”

Main graphic by Ana Bilokin.


Concordia Esports aims to start intramural league

League of Legends will be the first game available for casual gamers

The Concordia Esports Association (CESA) wants to expand from its competitive teams and organize an intramural league for students. President Dimitri Kontogiannos said the club is looking for people to play League of Legends in a fun, non-competitive environment.

”We’ve seen there are a lot of students that want to play in Concordia Esports organized events, but we’ve only really had a competitive team before,” Kontogiannos said. “So there was a lack of structured events for people who are a lower caliber or just don’t want to play on the competitive team.”

Kontogiannos said CESA is starting with League of Legends as its inaugural intramural game because it has the biggest following on campus. Games will be on Friday nights and players can sign up either as an individual and be put in a team, or a team can sign up together. Although the club will start with one game, they hope to expand to Overwatch and Super Smash Bros in the future.

The intramural league will be organized independently from Concordia, unlike its intramural leagues with traditional sports such as hockey, soccer, and basketball. Despite this, Stingers athletic director D’Arcy Ryan believes there’s room for growth for Esports at Concordia.

“Montreal is a hotbed of talent in the gaming industry because of some of the big companies like Ubisoft and CGI,” Ryan said. “We have the academic talent with programmers in the engineering faculty, so I think there’s a great potential for a partnership between the academic and recreational side to promote the gaming market.”

Kontogiannos has also seen Esports grow at the university level across the country. “All schools see the popularity and growth of Esports,” he said. “There’s significant interest in Canadian schools. At Concordia, [it’s] because of inclusiveness, and they use sport as a means to attract new students.”

Through the intramural league, CESA wants to introduce students, particularly first-years, to other students that share their passion. First-year students can focus too much on video games, according to League of Legends team manager Guillaume Bélisle.

“They play too many video games in the first year and then crash and burn [mentally],” Bélisle said in an interview with The Concordian in September. “Then in the second and third year, they will focus more on their studies. It’s all about balance.”

“In my first semester, this is the way I met people at the school,” Kontogiannos added. “I didn’t have many friends coming from Dawson to my program, so to find new people was one of the catalysts as to why I joined [CESA].”

Kontogiannos also believes video games play an important role in integrating new students from abroad. “[League of Legends] transcends countries,” he said. “It’s not just in North America that people play it, but also in Europe, in Asia, and even the Oceanic region. It’s a game the school can really benefit from by having organized activities around it.”

The president also wants to use the intramural league to potentially recruit players for their competitive team. “We just want people to have fun,” he said. “But it always ends up with us looking at new talent that’s popping up around Concordia, or seeing talented players that we didn’t have the chance to see before.”

Still, Kontogiannos wants the players to enjoy it. “I hope there are some good games. I know non-competitive players tend to stray out of the competitive strategies, so it’s a whole new game.”

To sign up for the intramural league, you can visit CESA’s Facebook page.

Archive graphic by Zeze Le Lin.

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