Hitting The Books and Hitting The Rift: High School Star League

A large majority of us have been ‘gamers’ since we were in elementary, middle, and high school. Many of you may still be in high school and long to see if you have what it takes to make it in competitive eSports. As the industry has continued to expand at a rapid pace, with League of Legends raising the bar higher and higher with tournaments and LCS events, the High School StarLeague has been rapidly following and building the first organization dedicated to helping high school students break into the eSports scene.

High School StarLeague is designed to not only support students in achieving academic excellence, but also open doors for those who are looking to become involved in eSports at a competitive level. Bursting onto the scene at the end of last season, some of you may remember hearing about HSL’s Winter Champions from Cerritos High School:

In order to keep pace with their expansive vision, HSL was proud to announce that they have rolled out a $20,000 scholarship program in partnership with Twitch, Newegg, and MSI to support student gamers as they compete with their friends in League of Legends and Starcraft II events this season. All monetary scholarship money goes towards helping assist students pay for their college tuition – Which, in this day and age, we all could use that kind of help!

I had the privilege of speaking with Alex Hsu, the League of Legends Director for HSL. I asked him to provide further information about the founders, goals, and future plans for HSL. He is passionate about HSL’s cause, and if any of you are interested in participating in HSL’s events or getting involved with what they do, I definitely encourage you to do so.

“Many of us began gaming in high school…I don’t think it makes any sense to have to wait until you’re in college to play at an organized and competitive level. That’s why HSL exists, so that we can bring the spirit of high-level competition to the next generation, and so that every high school student in the world has the opportunity to grab a couple of friends and say ‘Hey, let’s make a high school gaming team.”

Kevin He – President of League of Tritons, the electronic gaming club at the University of California, San Diego

Interview with Alex Hsu:

Tell me a little bit about the founders of HSL:

The High School StarLeague started as the “High School Starcraft II Team League” or HSSTL – A longtime dream of Adriel Leung (now our Dota 2 Director) that was focused on hosting a mix of individual and team events in SC2. After the first HSSTL Season 0, the staff was able to partner with the Collegiate StarLeague. This partnership allowed us to leverage the experience and resources of CSL, and was the catalyst to our rapid growth. The partnership was also what prompted the name change from HSSTL to the HSL.

What kind of events has HSL hosted in the past, and what will HSL be hosting this year?

We’re currently wrapping up our League of Legends, Starcraft 2, and Dota 2 seasons. Starcraft 2 and League of Legends will have a live Finals event the weekend of 6/28/14.

In the current 2013-2014 season, we added League of Legends, Dota 2, and EU Dota 2. We’ve had explosive growth in both the spectator and participation areas, especially thanks to a massive turnout in League of Legends. We started League of Legends over the summer with 32 teams (approximately 230 players) and have grown to nearly 400 (approximately 2700 players) teams this spring.

For League of Legends in particular, our season has consisted of two semesters (akin to LCS “splits:), Fall and Spring. Each one is a 12 week long round-robin, and top two teams from each group move on to each split’s playoffs/championships (the Spring Semester’s playoffs/championships double as the Season Championships – see our infographic for more information)

What are the long-term goals/hopes of High School StarLeague?

We hope to see eSports become a legitimately recognized extracurricular. We already see some of this with the growth of eSports clubs in many high schools around the nation. Even though the eSports environment is still developing, we’re working with an ever increasing amount of schools to foster local eSports communities. Some HSL schools have very impressive eSports programs where students can use school computers to practice for HSL or even allow HSL participation to count as gym credit. On the other hand, most schools’ clubs consist of meetings of avid gamers.

Eventually, we hope to see HSL operating like FIRST Robotics does. FIRST Robotics operates its leagues independently, but has its teams based around schools. Also, they promote students’ interest of science in technology through hands-on robot construction. There are mentors and college students who help guide students with design and construction, but the entire process is student-led, which is something we wish to emulate. Already, a few teachers have stepped up as coaches or analysts for their teams, and that is a positive trend we hope to see continued.

Who are some of your key personnel members, and could you tell me a little bit about them?

Tomber Su – CEO

Tomber Su currently currently heads the HSL. He not only plays an active role in the day to day operations of the HSL including design, tournament management and business management but also helps guide the long term direction of the league. Having guided the organization for the past three years, Tomber knows that HSL is built not only upon his dreams, but also those of his staff. He believes that one of his utmost priorities is to help his staff succeed at both their task and their vision. Although school and work leaves little time for fun, he enjoys playing games in SC2 and LoL, but occasionally resorts to Battlefield 3 when his lack of skill becomes frustrating. He is currently a student at Biola University, majoring in procrastination.

Jesse Wang – COO/Director of Community

Jesse Wang has been a part of HSL way back since Season 0 when HSL was known as HSSTL. Jesse enjoys talking to coordinators and helping them out. He especially enjoys seeking and training new staff for HSL. As well as being one of the key admins, Jesse has led the two-time championship power-house Torrey Pines High School over the past 3threeyears. He has now graduated, and is attending University of California, Irvine, where he looks to expand an already thriving eSports scene.

Ryan Huston – Chief Administrative Officer

Ryan’s role in HSL varies greatly and includes, but is not limited to, overseeing the StarCraft II division and its orderly operation, assisting the new Dota 2 division, maintaining wiki entries, coordinating streams, record keeping, public relations, social media management, and even sponsor relations. Outside of eSports, he is in his senior year at Upper Arlington High School in Ohio. He enjoys snowboarding, Model United Nations, playing his string bass, and he is currently conducting a research project at OSU on cancer detection and treatment with nanoparticles.

Alex Hsu – League of Legends & Media Relations Director

Alex Hsu has been a part of HSL since its inaugural season, where he was a Starcraft 2 team coordinator. Alex plays a wide variety of games in every genre, but spends the majority of his time playing League of Legends with friends, who hope to one day dominate the League of Legends tournament. Outside of eSports, Alex will be studying that the University of Puget Sound, and enjoys playing the violin, cycling, and working at the Seattle Aquarium.

HSL Grand Finals 2014

Join HSL on June 28th and 29th for the 2014 League of Legends Grand Finals! For League of Legends competitors, there is a first place prize of $7,500 in college tuition scholarship money, along with 6,400 RP!

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I hope that this post has served to inform you more about an amazing organization dedicated to helping fellow high school gamers all around the country. If you are in high school working hard to be the best in both the classroom and on the Rift, why not get a team of friends together and show the world what you’ve got?


Special Thanks to Alex Hsu for providing further information on High School Star League.

Check out their website for more information at: http://hsstarleague.com/

Follow them on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/hsstarleague


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Alex "Valkyrie"

Hello all! I manage Cloth5's Public Relations and Content Coordination. I am a lover of Tazo Tea, League of Legends, Apple Products, & John Mayer. Follow me on Twitter: @C5Valkyrie

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