The University of Waikato will host one of the biggest Esports tournaments to hit the country, with hundreds of secondary school students competing, an arena style grand final in Hamilton with the action streamed online.

The New Zealand High School League of Legends Championship starting in April will be the first tournament of its kind hosted by a university in New Zealand.

League of Legends is a popular online video game, in which players take control of a champion in a team of five and play to defeat an opposing team by destroying their base.

In 2019, more than 44 million people around the globe tuned in to watch the League of Legends world championship final.


The New Zealand championship is another success story in the Esports realm for Waikato University, which last year opened its OMEN gaming arena under the leadership of the university's Esports co-ordinator Tom Featonby.

Allowing students to play video games in a competitive environment is not the main goal for Mr Featonby. His aim is to create a community of which the players will be part.

"The vast majority of what we are doing here is getting students together and playing games and then the competition comes second," Mr Featonby said.

"All of life should be balanced, it shouldn't just be about us playing games, but spending time with other people as well to help with keeping social relationships.

Mr Featonby said the program at the University of Waikato aims to engage young people in positive Esports experiences.

He said running this league, with the backing of Riot, the company behind League of Legends, is a perfect opportunity to achieve that goal at a national level.

The competition will involve students from secondary schools around the country competing in an online league tournament during the second school term to determine who the top tier competitors are.

From there, the best of the best will face off in an Esports grand finale hosted by the university on its Hamilton campus on July 18.


The New Zealand winners will then compete for a chance to head to the Melbourne Esports Open in Australia to play in the ANZ Championships against an Australian state champion.

"We will have a bit of an event on at the final which will be held in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Art," Mr Featonby said. The final will be streamed online.

"We will make it like a big Esports final and hopefully we can get a few people down to support the players, we will also have commentators who will be students trained throughout the season to take part in the event."

Waikato has been a region rich in Esports talent, with Quin Korebrits, one of Oceania's top League of Legends players from the region.

Korebrits, otherwise known by his ingame name "Raes" is a professional League of Legends player who attended Hamilton Boys' High School before signing a professional contract in Australia.

Korebrits said it is good that New Zealand is now providing more opportunities for students to take part in Esports.


"I think these are great for trying to accelerate the growth in undeveloped scenes and support the idea of others organisations opening up opportunities," Korebrits said.

The Hamilton player has just made a career move of his own, linking up with Australia Esports team Legacy Gaming as he looks to be apart of the first Oceania team to make it to the World Championship group stages.