Valpo Alumni “Coach Chase” is Developing Sustained Success
Throughout Chase Ludington’s adult life two things have remained constant: Valpo and video games. In 2019, he merged the pair together to become the League of Legends head coach for Valpo Esports.
“I honestly can’t remember a time when video games weren’t a part of my life,” Ludington said. “As a kid, I played a ton of Halo, Pokemon, Ratchet and Clank, and more. In elementary school, everyone played Pokemon. There was a very social aspect to it.”
When he came to Valparaiso in 2010 to pursue his B.S. in Mathematics, his love of gaming followed and it was there that he discovered the game he now specializes in.
“I was introduced to League of Legends at Valpo by a friend of mine who told me I had to play this game,” Ludington said. “The first thing I saw when I opened up League of Legends was that Twisted Fate was like Gambit from X-Men. I wanted to play as that character.”
Gaming continued to be a part of Ludington’s entire collegiate experience from seeing others playing as he walked down the halls of his dorm to Let’s Smash Cancer, a charitable Super Smash Brothers tournament hosted by his fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha.
So when he first heard his alma mater started an esports program, he naturally reached out to get involved. Ludington initially started on a volunteer basis in the Spring of 2020, but quickly took over more responsibility with the team and earned the head coaching role in the middle of his first semester.
“It was like jumping into the deep end because I never had any experience coaching,” he said. “There was a lot of learning as I went.”
Led by Ludington’s passion-driven style and 10+ years of League of Legends experience, the team reached the National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC) playoffs in three out of the last four semesters. With a young roster including four freshmen this semester, Valpo is taking a slow approach to developing their talents.
Every week consists of three competition days and one dedicated practice day. Outside of those times, Ludington also meets one on one with every player to check in on them personally and review gameplay.
When he isn’t at his other job, mathematics teacher at Lake Central High School in St John, Ludington spends his time watching professional League of Legends matches and breaking down the stats behind the champions to improve Valpo’s gameplan. Fueled by his love for the game and a crop of young students, he has high hopes for the future of the program.
“My long term goal is to get a team into Proving Grounds, which is an official Riot Games competition alongside professional academy teams,” Ludington said. “Looking five years down the line, I don’t think it’s unachievable.”
Ludington is proud of how far the program has come and attributes the success to the positive individuals and environment surrounding Valpo Esports.
“I feel like the esports program as a whole is really lucky,” he said. “We have a really good core group of people and the community atmosphere shines through.”