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Ohio State Group plays video games to raise money for charity

Chris Braun / Design editor

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In a dark room in the Ohio Union, in front of a large screen, fans gathered to watch their teams face off.  
Their eyes followed closely the action of the game.
The whoops of excitement mingled with the sighs of disappointment as the players battled each other for ultimate victory.
It was not the Buckeyes of the gridiron that had these fans so transfixed, but instead the world finals of “League of Legends,” one of the more popular games within the E-Sport community.
“League of Legends” is an online multiplayer game set in a battle arena.
Saturday night, Taiwan’s team, the Taipei Assassins, defeated South Korea’s team, Azubu Frost, to win $1 million.
The tournament was held at the University of Southern California and was streamed live, announcers and all, in the great hall meeting room at the Ohio Union.
The viewing party was hosted by E-Sports Initiative, an OSU club that raises money for charities through video game tournaments.
This year the group hosted its own “League of Legends” tournament. With 200 participants, the organization managed to raise $2,000 for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“This is one of the biggest tournaments in the nation, in person, for ‘League of Legends,'” said Raymond Tan, a fourth-year in mechanical engineering and the founder and president of E-Sports Initiative.
Tan started the group roughly 18 months ago. He and his co-founders invested their own money to purchase TVs to hold the organization’s first tournament, a “Super Smash Bros.” competition.
This year they have decided to expand.
“We started with Smash Bros., but we wanted to branch out into more of the E-sports genre,” said Brandon Merriman, a second-year in neuroscience and classics, and chief marketing officer for the club. “‘League of Legends’ is one of the most played games right now, so that was the best one to go far.”
It is just one in a series of tournaments in the works.
“We definitely want to see if (we) can throw a new ‘Halo’ tournament, we obviously want to go back to our mainstay, ‘Smash Bros.’ fighting games,” Tan said.
The administrators of E-Sports Initiative are hoping that as the tournaments grow in size, they will be able to offer aid to future students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.
“We’re working towards building money to have a scholarship, probably need-based, for kids who want to be engineers,” Merriman said. “That would be the cumulative goal because that takes quite a bit of money.”
Kapil Raghuraman, a second-year in biomedical engineering, said playing in these tournaments was a great way to meet people.
“When I came to college, I was struggling a little bit to find a lot of friends, but I found a lot of people here play ‘League of Legends,’ so it kind of grew into a community of people I got to know and play with,” he said.
Raghuraman’s team is ranked second, and he expects to make it to the finals. He said he also participated in the “Smash Bros.” tournament, a game he’s less skilled in, since the money was going to charity.
Riot Games, the maker of “League of Legends,” provided the group with $500 in prizes in the form of Riot points, a currency used to purchase in-game accessories or skins, used to change the appearance of characters. 

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