Sac State esports member wins $1,250 in Teamfight Tactics tournament

Christian Archbold took 3rd place of around 120 contestants


Colby Case

Christian “xShadowStarx” Archbold plays a game of Teamfight Tactics at his desk on Dec. 10, 2020. He is practicing for his next tournament, which may not be for a while due to their scarcity. Photo taken over Zoom.

Colby Case

A Sacramento State esports member took third place in a Teamfight Tactics tournament, winning $1,250 in scholarship money, over the weekend of Dec. 5.
The tournament, sponsored by the personal finance company SoFi, took place Dec. 5-6. Entry was free but restricted to college students.
The tournament consisted of around 120 participants divided into 16 groups of eight collegiate entrants, all competing for the top eight prize pool of $10,000 in scholarship money. The top four of each group of eight advanced every round.
Teamfight Tactics is an online competitive game by Riot Games where players build rosters of characters, give them acquired items, position them and have them battle automatically. This genre is typically called auto-chess.

Christian “xShadowStarx” Archbold, a senior business major, was confident playing throughout the tournament. His rank in competitive Teamfight Tactics is “Master I,” meaning he is in the top 0.36% of the game’s 33 million concurrent players according to League of Graphs.
“I had placed pretty well in the previous 3 rounds, and save for some really bad luck, I had no doubts I'd make it to finals,” Archbold said over text.
Archbold’s prior bad luck struck in the third round when his roll down went poorly, giving him weak, uncombinable characters. Despite the bad roll down, he ended in fourth place for the round, barely earning him a spot in round four.

The tournament was single-elimination, meaning players are eliminated after one loss. Usually Teamfight Tactics tournaments are point-based, which allows for comebacks.
With only the top four advancing to the next rounds, Archbold aimed low, playing aggressively to knock out players focusing on economy, which means saving money and biding their time.
“This means I am allowed to be more aggressive and not economy as much because I don't need a super late-game composition to progress,” Archbold said. “I just need to make it to top 4.”

Story continues below glossary.


Ranks in Teamfight Tactics are divided into nine sections: Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, Grandmaster and Challenger being the topmost rank. Ranks Iron through Diamond are further divided into subsections of four, making ranks like Iron-III and Diamond-I possible.

Roll down

A process of rolling for new characters consecutively, usually spending most or all of a player’s currency. Usually used in an attempt to find specific characters to complete sets.


Characters start at one-star when chosen. By getting three of the same character, they become two-star, and by getting three two-stars, they become a three-star. Characters become increasingly stronger with more stars.


A player’s team composition usually determines whether they win or lose and is determined by what characters they’re dealt. Certain compositions gain bonuses based on how many characters the player has of a certain type.


Health points, or hit points in some games. In Teamfight Tactics, players start at 100 health every round and lose health from losing stages throughout those rounds. Any player is eliminated when their health drops to 0.

Christian “xShadowStarx” Archbold battles during the third stage of the final round of the Teamfight Tactics tournament on Dec. 6, 2020. He focused economy, aiming to keep his health and currency as high as possible for each of the common roll down stages. Screenshot from Archbold's stream.

When the final game came around, Archbold switched to the obvious plan: win.
“I played as I normally would, for 1st place, since I had a really good opener,” Archbold said via text. “In stage 5 I lost about 50 hp because I had health to spare and by doing so I was in a really good position for my level 8 rolldown.”
However in his final level eight roll down, Archbold got unlucky, finding multiple copies of characters he wasn’t using, wasting his in-game currency and eating up valuable slots in his hand.
“You gotta play what you have and if you don't have it, you try to make it work,” Archbold said.
Archbold’s third place-winning character composition was a two-starred Yuumi, one-starred Sejuani, two-starred Aatrox, two-starred Ahri, one-starred Lee Sin, one-starred Yone, two-starred Ezreal, two-starred Lillia and a two-starred Sett.


Acronym for “random number generator.” Catch-all for anything based around luck on computers. Essentially interchangeable with luck.


Last name of Arpad Elo, the inventor of the modern matchmaking system used by video games, multiple sports associations and some board games. Catch-all for anything referring to rank in video games.

Archbold was not the only Hornet esports member playing in the tournament. Isaac “jfreak51” Rodriguez, ranked Gold II, said he thoroughly enjoyed his experience.
“I was able to knock out some Masters players,” Rodriguez said over text. “Personally, it is very RNG reliant, but there is a lot of skill expression in the game as well. Stuff like unit positioning, knowing when to roll, which builds to go, which items to focus, pivoting to other comps when contested.”

Rodriguez placed third in round one, but was knocked out during the next round, beating around 60 people in placement.
“It gave lower Elo people a chance,” Rodriguez said.
This tournament was an outlier in regards to Riot Games, a company whose tournaments are usually invite-only. Both players said they are looking forward to the possibility of another tournament; however, Teamfight Tactics tournaments are few and far between.


Power-ups that are infrequently given out to players, who attach them to characters to give them stat boosts or effects.

“I’m looking for any tournaments I can do, there's just not many out there at the moment,” Archbold said.