An Outsider’s Critique Of LoL Esports’ Biggest Stage

By Nathan Grayson on October 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

I came, I saw, someone else conquered. Last weekend, I attended League of Legends’ Championship Series finals, which – in an undeniably historic moment for eSports – were held in Los Angeles’ Staples Center, a venue that’s played host to thousands upon thousands of fans through countless professional basketball games, boxing matches, and hockey games. Also, er, WWE Summerslams. League has, in other words, entered The Big Leagues. Even the US government recognizes it as a sport, and it is a body literally incapable of agreeing on anything else. But, as Korea’s SK Telecom T1 absolutely shut out China’s Royal Club, I bore witness to both glorious, beautiful triumphs and worrisome failings. I’m no League of Legends eSports expert, but perhaps that enables me even more to say this much: the sport still has a lot of important growing to do. Here’s what I saw.

Blue and white lights are flashing everywhere, like the sky is actually falling. And honestly, the ceiling’s so high that I’d probably believe someone if they told me there was a cloud or two up there. It’d also conveniently explain where the endless rain of silver confetti is coming from.

It’s the end of the LCS finals, and the Staples Center has exploded. OK, not literally, but it certainly looks like the sight of some kind of combustion. Sounds like it, too. Shouts, whoops, screams, whistles, bellows, thunderous applause – it’s all swirling together in adoration of five young men in matching red shirts, the oldest of whom is a mere 22 years-old. Together, SK Telecom T1 teammates Impact, Bengi, Faker, Piglet, and PoohManDu heft a gleaming silver cup over their heads, arms nearly straining under the weight. But then, I suppose that’s kind of fitting. After all, they’ve just won $1,000,000.

It’s a larger-than-life moment. I stand in awe – of the scene, of the spectacle, of some kids who are really, really good at a videogame.

——

I pace back-and-forth in my hotel room. It’s day one of Riot’s pre-LCS promotional build-up, and I honestly have no idea how I’m going to cover this thing. I’m what could charitably be called a LoL beginner, and eSports is so far outside my the upper stratospheres of my knowledge that I think I say it make a brief cameo in the film Gravity. I have some ideas, but not the foreknowledge or means to execute them in the moment. That makes me upset. I chew on a bagel spitefully, imagining myself as a vengeful Godzilla wreaking havoc on a donut shop.

Before long, I’m ushered onto a bus. Its wheels go ’round and ’round, all through the town until we arrive at Staples for a press briefing. It’s held in a decadent yet compact auditorium that doubles as a bar, a place where business and entertainment have locked horns many times before. Every conceivable surface is wood paneled. Basketball memorabilia dots the walls. There are chairs and a stage. This can mean only one thing.

Games journalist dunk contest. No, wait, the other thing: press conference.

Riot VP of eSports Dustin Beck takes the stage with a mixture of bravado, marketing speak, and sincere excitement. Despite that, most of the conference is snooze-worthy – a potent NyQuil cocktail of “Here’s what’s happened so far this season, described as simply and dryly as possible” and “WE ARE SUCCESSFUL THIS PLACE IS BIG I MET A BASKETBALL ONCE.” But other bits are worth chewing on, like a contemplative Godzilla wreaking havoc on a donut shop. The Riot presenters queue up a couple absurdly well-produced documentary-style videos of young pros’ stories. Their lives, their passions, their dreams, their ambitions. How incredible, unprecedented fame has altered the way other kids treat them at school.

This game changes lives, in big ways and small. It is legitimately a new sport, contested in an arena far removed from grassy fields or rot-infested school gymnasiums. Kids are starting to grow up with it.

I think back to the way martial arts steadied my life – gave me goals, friends, drive, a family, an identity where once I was just confused and depressed. I remember competing in tournaments, being encouraged by coaches and peers, learning to tear myself down in order to rebuild, to be better. I become excited by the potential of this nascent form of competition and teamwork, this place of expression where kids can clean off the garbage life throws at them and just do something pure for a little while. Whether they aspire to a career on Riot’s official pro roster or are just looking for a way to enjoy themselves and make new friends, there’s potential here. Huge potential. For growth, for lessons, for human relationships, for fun. And this sport is already highly multinational. There are opportunities to bridge cultural borders on a very personal level. LoL is – whether by design, fortuitous happenstance, or a mix of both – in a very rare, special place.

And then I wonder if Riot thinks about any of this when it devises strategies and systems to make its community less awful – and further, when it takes the reins on propagating its own professional scene. And I really, desperately hope it does, as opposed to simply thinking of all this as a giant promotional tool. Because growing up on the Internet is, frankly, a horrifying prospect. Humans aren’t made for it – for the disconnect, the lack of faces and feelings and empathy. It makes us monsters. We need all the help we can get.

——

A couple friends and I are walking through the chaotic, jam-packed halls of the Staples Center on LCS night. It’s mere moments before what will – in all likelihood – be the last match of the season. The air is electric. People stream past copious concession stands, talking and gesturing animatedly. Many of them wear silly hats, because sporting events are, by nature, this glorious nexus point between teeth-grinding seriousness and the side of Halloween that leads to rampant deletion of Facebook accounts.

And then I see a horde of people, teeming and squirming like ants on a fallen cupcake. Pointing toward the center of the crowd, one of my friends finds the source of the madness. “That’s Day[9],” he says, almost whispering. The eSports mega-personality shakes hands, signs pictures, and gives hugs. In his wake, young fans come away very nearly in shock. “That. Was. So. Awesome,” one young man says to a band of friends, biting his words as though they’ll come rampaging out otherwise. So many excited, awe-struck people.

They’re just happy. Passionate. Loving the moment. Nothing like the dreaded stereotypical LoL fans you hear about online. Granted, that reputation is blown out of proportion anyway, but it’s still quite the sight. This thing has brought people together, let them talk and cheer and shout together. In-person. The barriers are down. People are just being people.

It’s an interesting moment, too, because Day[9]‘s just roaming around, like any other attendee. He’s not flanked by an entourage or anything of the sort, despite being a bonafide celebrity in this environment. It speaks, I think, to the background of eSports – and how close to that background competitors and fans still are. The culture emerged from people competing in modest venues and sharing videos online, often via rudimentary tools in their own homes. In theory, the doors have always been open to all, or at least more so than in other sports. No need for college scholarships or prestigious backgrounds or political mumbo-jumbo. Just passion and skill.

These homegrown stars would (and still do), in turn, stream and produce other content that interacts directly with their fans. It makes the proceedings so much warmer, so much more personal. The Internet can bring out the worst in a game, but it can also make it better. Perhaps it can even build a new, better type of professional sport – something that treats everyone like people, fame and fortune or not.

Maybe. Or it can just become like all the others.

——

I don’t know what to make of the LCS opening ceremonies, and I get the impression that I’m not alone. A man, who I’m told is Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland, struts across the stage painted ghostly white from head-to-toe. He’s backed by a floppy haired drummer, a scantily clad female cellist, and – oh yeah – a full orchestra. Then a platform arises in the center of the stage, and The Crystal Method emerges, rocking out on synths and keyboards. All the while, lasers dart and dance, slicing through the dark blue hue of the stadium with Jedi-like finesse.

Admittedly, the orchestral rocktronica mega-ensemble is playing familiar League of Legends tunes, but it all just feels so… overblown. Like a cry for attention, an impassioned plea for legitimacy. And honestly, what is renting out the Staples Center for a videogame if not that, right on the money? I mean, why else would you play videogames in a place designed to house people throwing balls in hoops or punching each other in the face? But ultimately, I can’t fault Riot and its fans for enjoying their giant celebration, even if elements of it don’t make a lot of sense. They’ve earned this.

Still, I can’t help but find the moment a bit odd. On one side, you have League of Legends and its bouncing baby pro scene, a thing weened on fan support, community, and old-fashioned, down-to-earth humanity. But on the other, here’s this insane spectacle, this deafening cannon-blast of imagery and sound that wants me to believe – for this single moment, if nothing else – that these players and their game are bigger than me, bigger than other fans, bigger than anyone. And caught in the middle, you have the sport itself with an identity that’s still practically embryonic. Will it stay small and personable, or will a surge in growth propel it into a series of walled gardens – pens of athletic supremacy where mere mortals dare not tread? Will the Internet, YouTube, streams, Reddit AMAs, and things of the like allow it to straddle the line between both? And will it ever infiltrate the airwaves of John Q Public, or will League of Legends diehards keep it in their clutches until the whole scene peaks?

LoL eSports is in uncharted territory, and there is no “right” answer. Only hindsight will decide that.

——

The lights are bright – nearly blinding – as I thrust a microphone in front of Riot VP of eSports Dustin Beck. We’re in a bowling alley for some reason – or at least a bar/dining establishment that’s got strong bowling alley genes on its mother’s side because, let’s face it, Riot has too much money. I dive right into my concerns. The sport’s become massively successful – quite obviously, and you can’t argue with results – but it’s still nigh-impenetrable for all but a very specific subset of people. Meanwhile, Riot, the company that makes the game, has a stranglehold on the highest echelon of competition, potentially snuffing out legitimacy of third-party leagues that might want to cross over to wider audiences. At least, in North America, where they focus their efforts.

Beck replies that Riot’s taken big strides in professionalizing LoL eSports – making it more like a traditional “sport.” Now there are regularly scheduled programs, analyst desks, shoutcasters who’ve undergone rigorous training, and the like. When pressed, however, he concedes that at the moment Riot’s eSports focus will remain on preexisting fans of the game. Players. The goal is not to turn this into a far-reaching spectator sport. Not yet.

There is, admittedly, an appeal there. For those who are already in-the-know, they don’t have to fear dilution or the “dumbed down” approach it might bring. But, though LoL’s player base is truly gigantic, it also caps the sport’s growth, which is a shame.

Later, watching the finals unfold with a couple equally inexperienced friends, I can’t help but feel that a few simple tweaks would have me migrating to the frigid northern reaches of my seat far more often. As an avid (and unabashed) fan of mixed martial arts, I’ve clocked plenty of hours watching a sport with elements that initially make no sense to the masses. Ground fighting just looks like sweaty men laying on each other to those who’ve never, themselves, been twisted into a human pretzel, but good commentating can demystify even the highest levels of strategy. Better still, it can make them thrilling.

It’s just a matter of asking the right questions at the right times – playing dumb for the benefit of the audience – or replacing some jargon with language that’s more easily parsed. Not even all of it. Context will do the rest. People are smart. They’ll learn, and they’ll even enjoy doing it. They just need a little push sometimes.

——

People. That’s the point Beck proudly hammers home while on stage during the pre-LCS press conference. Riot wants to emphasize players and their stories, because ultimately that’s what makes sports interesting. I can’t disagree with him on that, and I can’t complain either. Certainly makes for better reading than a dry-to-the-point-of-crumbling match recap, anyway. And if there’s any way to make people care, it’s giving them something they can personally relate to.

Everyone’s got at least one interesting story in them, I figure.

——

“Yeah, a lot of eSports professionals retire when they’re, like, 24,” a journo friend tells me, idly, as he’s giving me an overview of the pro scene. “Slowing reflexes and all that.”

——

Tabe is 22. As the lights flash and the confetti rains, the curtains also close on his pro career. The fan-favorite Royal Club support planned this. Win or lose, he was going to do two things: 1) retire and 2) propose to his girlfriend. The shoutcasters briefly acknowledge the end of the ever-warm, famously personable player’s life as a pro, but their comments are quickly swallowed up by the sounds of SK Telecom T1′s celebration. I can’t help but wonder if Tabe finds the moment bittersweet.

The professional eSports scene is still young, but its players can’t stay that way forever. So what comes after? When you’ve eschewed job hunting and maybe even a college degree to master a videogame, where do you go when the game stops footing your bills?

——

My arm is getting tired from holding the microphone in front of Beck’s face, and the searing lights are causing sweat to pool beneath my ill-advised blazer. But still I persist, despite facing probably the greatest adversity any journalist has ever experienced. I remember what my friend said about pros retiring young, and I ask if Riot what kind of role it plans to play in all of this. After all, these players do help promote LoL in a very big way. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Riot at least owes them something. Beck replies that there’s always the possibility of a commentator or analyst gig, provided someone’s got the English-speaking skills and charisma to handle it. So there is my something.

But as the sport grows and more players begin to reach the twilight phases of their careers, that inevitably won’t be enough. Coaching is also an option, but it’s still early days on all this, and old pros (who happen to, in the grand scheme of things, be young kids) have some difficult questions ahead of them.

——

Tabe is about to leave for the airport to catch his plane back to China, but he decides to run a Reddit AMA. Fans flock with supportive messages, but also questions. Big questions. Why’d Royal Club lose so badly? Was SKT really just that much better? And what’s Tabe gonna do now? What does life after pro LoL even look like?

Tabe is, as ever, friendly and optimistic. He jokes with his crowd of e-admirers, noting that he can’t propose to his girlfriend with his famed singing abilities because she already hears those too much. He offers advice. He praises SKT, adding that he really does think they’re the best in the world right now. “SKT just outclassed us! I don’t wanna keep playing in China. I will be a coach and do my casting thing to earn a living. But I love the experience in LA, I would love to come to work! I hope I have a chance:)”

Best of luck.

——

The confetti continues to rain. I was not aware humanity had produced this many squares of shiny plastic. I realize it’s less of a rain and more of a blizzard.

All five members of SKT are ushered offstage, down to the Staples Center’s locker room area, and the crowd starts clearing out. It’s oddly quiet for a colossal stadium that still contains thousands of people.

It’s nice, though. It’s a good view. I am overlooking the primordial ooze of a sport that’s only just now really taking off. I wonder what I’ll look down and see next year.

__________________

« | »

, , , , .

93 Comments »

  1. cyrenic says:

    First off, lets get this out of the way: Competitive League of Legends is a sport, but not an athletic sport. Please don’t confuse the two and we’ll avoid a lot of redundant comments.

    With that out of the way, this was a great article. I’m a huge fan and follower of professional League of Legends. I enjoyed reading a well written account of what it was like to see Worlds from an outsiders point of view.

    Tabe was awesome and has set a standard of sportsmanship for future pros to strive for.

    I agree with the intro to worlds being strange and overproduced. Last year’s introduction was simply a symphony playing the main League of Legends theme and it was way better.

    I’m as surprised as anyone about how big League’s esport scene has gotten. I enjoyed playing League of Legends, started enjoying the professional matches, and the next thing I knew I’m listening to play by play of live games as I drive home from work.

    • KevinLew says:

      I enjoy watching streamed videos of people playing games, especially if the person is skilled or the person is providing insightful or fun commentary. I watched a large number of both Dota 2′s TI3 and LoL’s World Championship games. I can say that if Riot wants non-hardcore people to watch their games and enjoy it, then they need to do a bunch of changes.

      First, they should set a schedule where the actual game start times are listed. It’s irritating to look at the live stream and realize that they aren’t even going to play for over an hour after the listed start time, and you have to sit through a pre-game show. Many sporting events do have pre-game shows, but those are listed on the schedule with an actual game start time. Second, I really don’t understand why the announcers would start talking who they think is going to win 20 minutes before the game is even played. It makes the whole presentation seem biased, like if the favored team wins then it’s expected. Finally, if your world championship game becomes a blatant blowout, where one team never had a chance of winning, then that’s actually pretty terrible to watch.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Cyrenic

      The comments aren’t redundant but they are tedious (in the same way debating whether Dear Esther et al. are games).

      But I’m going to have to be tedious guy here and say that I’m afraid competitive LoL isn’t a sport. Sport involves physical exertion, it’s writ in the definition. It being a game doesn’t make it lesser. Chess, for example, is a game and doesn’t feel the need to get all defensive about it.

      LoL is probably a great competitive game (not my cup of tea) that many people can enjoy and if they want to call it eSports as a branding thing then that;s cool too. It ain’t a sport though, and spending ages trying to say it is as pointless as me writing out these paragraphs here!

      • Nathan says:

        Well, what about darts, snooker or rifle shooting?

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          It seems like those would be a sort of odd middle ground for which I don’t really know a term? Accuracy with projectiles is traditionally something that involves a bit of physical discipline and training, but the amount of exertion seems closer to chess or LoL than to something like discus throwing.

          • Arglebargle says:

            Years ago, I ran across a report about chess players at master level games. They were apparantly burning a tremendous amount of energy while playing, equivalent to extreme physical exertion. If true….

          • Corb says:

            dude, you can burn lots of calories doing a violin performance yet playing in an orchestra isn’t a team sport. I used to do this at a professional level so I can tell you from first hand experience it isn’t easy and it is taxing on your body to play for 2-4 hours straight.
            Physical exertion: exercise: the activity of exerting your muscles in various ways to keep fit. – definition from google
            Golfers do this, rifle shooters do this, couldn’t tell you about dart throwers…..but also I didin’t realize that was a “sport”. However, who goes to the gym to physically improve their body, to play LoL better as part of their training for the esport season? ….no seriously I actually want to know. Because if that was a thing then it actually would be the definition of a sport if that became a required.

          • lightstriker says:

            Every single high level Korean team, and increasingly every high level team period.

            It’s more or less common knowledge at this point that one of the best things you can do to make yourself better at the game at a high level is get exercise Oo

      • spleendamage says:

        It involves split-second reaction time as a primary limiting physical qualification. I think that makes it a sport more than a game like chess.

        • almostDead says:

          And a huge amount of mental endurance. Watching TI3, the schedule these players have to follow. Not trivial on the concentration. Must be like being a surgeon.

          • Moth Bones says:

            I was wondering about the schedule. The pro snooker circuit seems pretty physically demanding, even if it looks like they’re simply playing a parlour game, at least according to Gordon Burn’s terrific book about snooker in the 1980s. – http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/25155520?q&versionId=30328590

            A similar volume about esports would be very readable. People winning riches and acclaim at 20, potentially washed up at 24 if they’re not careful? Sounds like a story to me.

      • FluffyHyena says:

        I think the main reason why Riot (and other companies producing competitive video games) market LoL and the likes as sports like foot-to-ball, basketball and etcaeteraball, instead of chess, bridge and scrabble is simply: sponsors. The FIFA of chess (FIDE) does not exactly swim in a sea of money, while the FIFA of soccer and foot-to-ball (FIFA) is drowning in it.

        And the best part is chess is taking the same direction: FIDE is part of IMSA (International MIND SPORT Association). http://www.imsaworld.com/wp/.

      • El_MUERkO says:

        Do you know the dictionary people have changed the meaning of the world ‘literally’ to also mean ‘metaphorically’ so if it’s not a sport by the old definition give it a few years and it will be.

  2. Splynter says:

    As a fellow outsider to the whole DotA-like (my only real experience with the genre was back in its custom map days. Did I waste my youth and a chance at fame by playing Wintermaul instead!?) e-sports scene, I must say that I really enjoyed this article. I still don’t think I’ll ever start playing or even watching, but it’s still a fascinating new phenomenon to observe in its infancy.

  3. Stupoider says:

    Great coverage of TI3 by the way!

    • Vitalis says:

      My thoughts exactly.

      LoL’s classification as a sport aside, why does this get coverage when the DOTA2 TI3 and it’s larger (mostly crowd funded) prize pool gets almost entirely ignored.

      • maximiZe says:

        Riot paid for the trip?

      • PrivateInvestigations says:

        Who cares about dota2, LoL! Only total nerds play that game! Besides there is no money in that!

      • Skull says:

        Nathan and the RPS team play and enjoy watching LoL and not DOTA? I am sure if you or anyone else wanted to write about The International, RPS would not have any objection.

        • Vitalis says:

          Yes I’m sure too and this has happened, you may have seen the guest-written love letter to DOTA2 ‘Why Is Dota 2 The Biggest Game On Steam?’.
          But this article seems to be written in a way as to highlight the importance of events such as these to PC gaming as a whole and as such maybe the coverage of these events should be a little wider than just LoLs yearly bash.

      • CmdrCrunchy says:

        Can everyone stop this shit?

        RPS writes about what interests them at the time. If they didn’t write about TI3 its because they weren’t particularly interested in it, not because Riot paid them to cover LoL instead.

        Give it a rest, you don’t see the Smite players complaining about the lack of coverage their game of choice receives.

        • Vitalis says:

          As stated above, I wouldn’t have taken issue with it if it were not for the fact that this article was presented in a way as to highlight the importance of these events in the growth of PC gaming and esports. From the blurb; ‘in an undeniably historic moment for eSports’, ‘ Even the US government recognizes it as a sport, and it is a body literally incapable of agreeing on anything else’.

          If you want to look at events from this angle then maybe more than 0 words on the eSports tournament with the highest prize pool to date wouldn’t go too far amiss? Or maybe a reference to the movie Valve are making about the previous tournament, the one that holds the 5th spot for highest prize pool, right underneath the first TI and Seasons two and three of league… I would definitely argue the highest prize pool in history for eSports is an ‘undeniably historic moment for eSports’ as I would also argue that any company making a film on the subject would be too.
          Yes I understand this was an article on this particular tournament but referencing other such events adds context does it not?

          I was a League player and I hold no ill will against that title and I understand it’s importance in the growth of esports but you cannot truly discuss an entire sporting sector without discussing any of the other sports within it.

          • Bradamantium says:

            I wonder what really compels you to think an article entitled “An Outsider’s Critique Of LoL Esports’ Biggest Stage,” emphasis on “LoL Esports” would feature any mention of Dota.

          • John Funk says:

            TI3 had a bigger prize pool for a single event (and I would have looooooved Riot to do something like Valve did with the Compendium to boost the prize pool) but S3 overall had a larger pool than TI3 did.

            I can see the argument and I do think it’s more “fun” to backload it into one giant sum for the concluding tournament, but LoL Season 3 had $5 million up for grabs whereas TI3 was… $2.8? Something like that?

          • mickygor says:

            Dunno about you, but to me it looks like they covered LoL because they had someone there.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            @John Funk
            This is what people bleating on about TI3 are missing, TI3 was a one off tournament with prize money pooled purely for that. LoL S3 was an almost year long season of competition spanning the whole world, culminating in a World Championships, the structure and consistent competitions, rankings and prize money are in part what helped it become classified as a sport.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Maybe they covered LoL as it’s first official sport they ever played and wanted to see what all the fuzz about going on basket/base/foot/whatever-ball is about?

      • airmikee99 says:

        My guess would be that it’s because DOTA 2 was released only 3 months ago, while LoL is approaching 4 years of play. It’s also probably because while DOTA 2 is the biggest game on Steam, according to Forbes, LoL is the biggest game in the world.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        1 – The game wasn’t even out, it was basically a massive advert for the game.
        2 – LoL is the more played and popular game, hence it SHOULD get more bias in coverage.
        3 – PC Gamer went the exact opposite, giving daily coverage on the Dota 2 tournament and barely acknowledging the LoL tournament, RPS has been far far less biased in this respect.

    • almostDead says:

      You broke my fucking sarcasm meter man. It fucking went bang. Just like that. Thanks a lot.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      *snicker*

    • Yosharian says:

      I’m not even gonna say anything, cos last time we even got close to a discussion about this it went nowhere. But I’m glad you said it.

    • John Funk says:

      Probably because as much fun as TI3 was (with a much better final), LoL Worlds was… a bigger event? It was significantly more of a spectacle and as the culmination to a long official “regular season,” the biggest thing we’ve had to a Super Bowl. LoL is also a bigger game than Dota 2.

      I like Dota 2 but its fans are so touchy. You can’t have a positive article about LoL without someone coming in and acting like it’s some big conspiracy, christ.

    • glocks4interns says:

      I’m glad to see the DOTA2 inferiority complex is alive and well.

  4. DevilSShadoW says:

    Amazing structure this article had! Loved it. More of this please.

  5. Jockie says:

    Nice write up Nathan,

    A couple of points:

    I can’t really imagine being interested in spectating LoL without having played it first, I tried that with DOTA (coming from a LoL background) and despite the obvious parallel between the games, it was a case of ‘Oh, he’s done a spell thing and now the other bloke is dead…’ You can only understand the skill and the nuance when you’ve played for yourself, it’d be next to impossible for a beginner to see an individual moment of brilliance in the midst of a chaotic team-fight, because it’s just going to look like a bunch of colourful particle effects going off at once.

    Once you understand the mechanics – the way a player used their oppositions cooldowns to duel them, or baited out an important CC to switch momentum over to the other team, it can become quite spectacular watching the pro players and their next-level understanding of the game combined with god-like reflexes. But without that understanding, I don’t think it works purely as a spectator thing.

    Secondly, the LoL community is horrible in-game, but can actually be quite nice when they’re out (the Reddit community is mostly positive these days) and you only have to look at the fan-art and community stuff to know there are some talented folks who enjoy creating things around the game. In game is another matter – ask any of the RPS guys who have played a game with me, I can get frustrated and snap, or whine that my lane isn’t getting enough jungle attention, but I think (hope) they know it’s the game and the nature of it that turns (some of) us briefly into monsters. Obviously there are extremes and the people shouting ‘die of cancer’ etc should probably just shut up and fuck off (and die of… erm, wait).

    The other burgeoning part of the community is attached to Twitch.tv and I actually think this is the worst part, it’s horribly misogynist if any woman ever deigns to appear in front of the camera, it quickly devolves into juvenile leering ‘tits!’ ‘rape her!’ etc. An ex-porn star even started streaming LoL attracting a rabid horde of young boys, who wanted to shout at her to get her breasts out, I find it interesting though that a porn-star saw LoL streaming as an alternative to internet pornography as a source of income (I guess its broadly the same audience).

    Finally, the Wes Borland nude Cellist stuff was stupidly overblown, silly and felt like an extravagant display of the vast wealth of Riot, which I think they have every right to do! I enjoyed it in a ‘wow, this is really stupid and probably cost a lot of money’ sense. But it was really just very silly.

  6. Myrdinn says:

    Loved watching The International 3, despite not having played DotA2 for a while. Also turned in for some LoL matches which seemed pretty fun despite not having that much insight in LoL mechanics. Wonder if there’s anyone who has been to both events? IMHO the International looked a lot more ‘fun’ and ‘lighthearted’, having all those Valve voice actors run around and stuff. Also liked the announcers and analysts a lot more. Nothing like some dry English dude being the main analyst.

    Hard not to be somewhat biased though, as I’ve played DotA2 over 300 hours and only about 100 hours of LoL. Both have their pro’s and con’s.

  7. Vitalis says:

    I’m not getting how this is an ‘outsider view’, considering Nathan does the vast majority of LoL coverage on RPS? To the extent that it does look an awfully lot like he’s getting paid by riot.

    • JimmyG says:

      Check out the fourth paragraph. By “outsider” he seems to just mean that he doesn’t know the game very well, nor many of the scene’s celebrities (like when his friend has to tell him who Day[9] is.)

      • Vitalis says:

        See I’m really not sure what his definition of ‘beginner’ is, in thse games that could mean anything short of 100hrs play- http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/league-of-legends/
        I would be genuinely interested to see how much Nathan does/has played considering he even posted a whole article about how a new LoL character kinda-sorta looks like Harley Quinn among other coverage of LoL.

    • Courtney says:

      I’m a pretty nerdy guy, but I’ve also had the experience of “feeling” like an outsider at some conventions, particularly the anime conventions that I used to take my daughter to. I liked some anime, was fairly knowledgeable about it, but those were very clearly not my people.

      That said, I would never had described myself as an outsider to something like those. Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t make something true.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      RPS reports on what they want to report on. Nathan is the only one on the team (that I know of) that plays LoL —> Nathan is the only one on the team that reports on it. No one on the team plays Dota —> not much on Dota is covered.

      I highly doubt that Riot is paying RPS money to cover LoL. Heck, LoL is covered less than other big titles.

    • darkChozo says:

      I’m guessing that he means an outsider to LoL eSports, or just eSports in general, not LoL itself.

  8. JimmyG says:

    Really compelling read. It’s an odd space for a scene to occupy: made by developers, enlarged and enlivened by fans and DIY-personalities, then reappropriated and boosted by developers-as-marketeers/governing body. Thanks for going past the glitz to describe the real story, the social phenomenon in flux at the moment. We all need to keep in mind that whatever happens with LoL sets a heavy precedent for the future of esports — 5, 10, or 50 years down the road.

    • cyrenic says:

      I’m curious to see what professional League of Legends looks like in 5-10 years.

      Has it peaked? How will Riot’s approach to e-sports compare to Valve’s in the long run? What happens when the next big MOBA comes along and significantly reduces the player bases of League and Dota2?

      • trjp says:

        Typically, the ongoing popularity of a sport depends on the players and not the game.

        We don’t change the rules of Football or Golf to keep people watching – we rely on dynamics of the teams and players to make the same game ever-more-exciting and interesting.

        eSports is a bit fucked here because the teams and players are barely old enough to wipe their own arse and mostly don’t appear to speak English.

        There are only so many highly-produced videos of how playing a game made you into less of a punchbag at school, you can make – eSports will need teams and players with character, which people can identify with, to succeed at any serious level.

        I guess they hope changing the game itself will keep people coming back but I have my doubts about that – sports which fail to produce ‘characters’ tend to die-out (where ‘characters’ can be players or teams), indeed history is littered with them.

        Remember that real sportsmen are often like politicians – their real skill isn’t just that they’re good at their job, it’s that they’re good as attracting attention and sponsorship which enables them to do their job. It’s said that every F1 driver buys his seat with a lot of sponsorship money and a bit of driving skill…

        • almostDead says:

          I would imagine one major difference between popular sports and e-sports is the proportion of fans that participate in the actual event, and not just watch.

          Again, I would hypothesise, without doing any homework, that the proportion of people who play LoL and concurrently follow LoL is way higher than football or tennis.

          Therefore, character matters more if you are only watching. I would also imagine that the average LoL pro is way more relatable to their average fan, in terms of age, background, interests and behaviour than the corresponding team player of an athletic sport.

        • cyrenic says:

          “mostly don’t appear to speak English”

          If they are from a non English speaking country, yes. The vast majority of players in the North American and European LCS speak English well.

          Already there are players that are very charismatic and have huge fan bases. Big enough that sponsors notice. Players like Scarra and Doublelift in North American, for example.

        • snv says:

          Actually the rules of sports/games get changed a lot to make it more interesting to watch.
          Your chosen examples:
          American Football and F1 are basically designed to be spectator events, and (european) Football / Soccer received the rulechange of exchanging players during the game expressively to make it more dynamic.

          • Lambchops says:

            Yeah F! is a great example. Most of the time F1′s rule changes are there to attempt to stop one team becoming too dominant (some of the last few rule changes seem to be directly to the detriment of Red Bull for example).

            Having interesting personalities plays a part for sure though. However I don’t buy youth being a barrier to being an interesting personality, I’d argue that the likes of Marc Marquez (Moto GP) and Missy Franklin (swimming) are among the more interesting personalities in sport right now (not least because of their boundless enthusiasm). No reason why young LoL players couldn’t bring the same sort of enthusiasm to the table.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          David Beckham is a perfect example. A good player but by no means the best managed to make himself an international superstar based almost 100% on image.
          Yeah F1 changes its rules almost as often as LoL puts out a patch, its very similar in that way, it will alter itself to try and provide the most entertaining competition possible.

          Streaming culture is one of the things that Esports REALLY has going for it, fans can interact with the pros in a way not found in other sports, ask them questions, sit and watch them talk about the game for hours etc. This creates personalities in a different way to most sports but no less effective in a lot of ways, people will find players and hence teams to route for based on that, they don’t need to be able to captivate 80,000 people by doing some stupid pose.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Very true, and something to note that for the foreseeable future ESports will have to remain in a certain level of flux due to the natural growth and decline of a games popularity due to technical advancements, yearly iterations of games a’la CoD, coupled with constant patching of games essentially changing the rules slightly every month or so none of which happens in “regular” sports.

      How and when these fluctuations will taper off is difficult to predict though but I think it is necessary for the progression of ESports, at the moment LoL and SC2 have done a good job of somewhat stabilising Esports for the last few years by managing to stay at the top of the pile, allowing those games to grow a competitive scene around the game, build personalities, regular scheduled tournaments etc.

      Yet still there are constantly alterations being made. The biggest sporting event in the world, The Football World Cup, has had a pretty much unchanged structure for decades. The same cannot be said for LoL and SC2, it stands to reason in the first 3 years of something existing you will need to experiment with the format, the problem with Esports is that by the time LoL and SC2 find the format they really like the game will probably be into decline and in need of being replaced by another game, which then has to start from scratch and go through the same growing pains only to be replaced themselves once things get to a point where they are truly working optimally.

      Another problem with Esports at the moment is the fact that everyone is seeing the success it can have and everyone wants a slice of the pie, while you can’t blame people for that it is ultimately hurtful to the scene, there are several organizations running tournaments, sometimes concurrently to each other etc. There are a new batch of games almost monthly that are billing themselves at the “next big esport” then failing. Developers are actively pushing their games into the Esports arena trying to take a slice of the money available.

      Similarities can be drawn with what happened to boxing, one of the biggest sports on the planet and is one of the main reasons for the decline in popularity of the sport in recent times. You no longer have a legitimate world champion, you have a WBC champ, a WBA champ, an IBF champ, a WBO champ as well as a bunch of others, it spreads the competition too thin and muddies the waters of the sport, a similar effect is happening in ESports, the basis of the problem is lack of a central governing body, people creating “world championships” out of thin air and appointing themselves as an authority on the sport. When an alternative to Boxing came along (UFC/MMA) with superior structure and more entertaining, better produced events people started making the switch, so while people may have taken a slice of a very large pie to start with by inventing world championship belts, ultimately that pie is now shrinking fast because of peoples greed initially.

  9. daphne says:

    Very nice stuff here, but you guys should consider moving to some other site design, the blog post format doesn’t do long-form articles like this any justice.

  10. Unrein says:

    Well, that certainly was a judgmental and po-faced article about an event that seemed fun.

    • trjp says:

      That’s because it wasn’t really an article about the event but about what the event means in a world which still sees videogames as something for ADHD Kids (something that event appears to be a massive celebration of and entirely attended BY).

  11. trjp says:

    eSports needs a voice – it needs a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_McNamee

    He was asked to co-commentate a baseball game with a well-known player -but the player was taciturn in the extreme and left during the game! McNamee knew NOTHING about baseball so he simply winged-it, describing what happened, the colour of the sky, the wind direction – everything. People loved it, although someone once said “I wasn’t sure which game I enjoyed more, the one I watched in-person or the one the McNamee was describing”

    When my Dad was a kid he’d listen to Tennis on the radio – he’d NEVER seen a tennis court, let alone a game being played, yet he knew EXACTLY how the game looked and worked. It’s that level of skill which eSports lacks and I think it needs to get with the program(me).

    eSports needs it’s McNamee, it’s John Motson, it’s Murray Walker – if it were REALLY lucky it would get it’s Sid Waddell, but maybe no 2 sports will ever be gifted something as outright astonishing as Sid Waddell(*)

    (*) I feel obliged to explain to anyone who doesn’t know Sid, that he was a Cambridge educated historian who commentated on Darts – with astonishing results such as

    “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt-tears because there were no more worlds to conquer, Eric Bristow is only 27…”

    We need some of that…

    • almostDead says:

      Well, as you know, there are plenty of personalities having a go. I think there is more wasted bits moaning about commentators of e-sports than any other category of gaming moaning I have seen. And if this is hyperbole, then certainly posters moan more about these personalities than players or mechanics.

      I only watch DotA 2, I couldn’t comprehend both games at once, but some of the commentators seem perfectly okay. They don’t seem to have the rounded education that would perhaps be necessary for the kind of prose you want them to have. And I doubt your view is in the majority wanting what you want.

      They seem to come in 3 major varieties, the shouter, the nice voice, and the mechanics expert or pro.

      • Vitalis says:

        The commentator personalities are certainly getting there and your 3 varieties I think extends to all forms of sport commentating.
        The last one is due to the Colour analyst and play-by-play commentator dynamic, the first has all the indepth details on mechanics and often histories whereas the latter keeps the audience up to speed on what’s happening as it happens. This is most apparently in WWE etc. wrestling.

        It’s a new(ish) thing, the people who will become famous for commentating esports are still working their way there I think. I quite like TobiWan myself but I know some people who don’t and I don’t watch enough sport to know commentators as well as trjp to compare him to his examples I also imagine I’d quite like TotalBiscuit’s commentary but as I have no interest in StarCraft I’ve never watched/listened to him commentate an eSport.

        Complaining about commentators is no bad thing, the community(ies) are still trying to discover what they want from eSports commentating as the commentators are still really working out what style(s) work best for eSports and well some commentators can be incredibly annoying.

        • almostDead says:

          Hmm, I don’t think that commentary style is evolving so much as they are (in DotA 2, in my opinion) desperately trying to present a professional experience, from the nascent studios.

          Due to your correct description of the play-by-play and expert duet, they know what they need to do, the problem is trying to make network tv quality sports-broadcasts.

      • Reefpirate says:

        As a big SC2 fan who occasionally tries to watch some of these big DotA/LoL events, I think the commentating is seriously lacking for the DotA-clones. I think this guy’s point wasn’t that you need someone with a history degree, but you need someone to play the role of ‘explain what the hell is happening in simple terms’. There’s so many proper nouns that the casters may as well be speaking Chinese half of the time.

        I think part of the problem is the hardcore fans of these games put a lot of pressure on casters to ‘know the game’, and I feel like sometimes the casters are trying really hard to prove that they understand the deepest complexities of the game. This is important for part of the cast, but most of the time I think they should try to keep it is as simple as possible.

        • almostDead says:

          I agree, most of the comments about casters is the e-peen contest of ‘I know more than them, how do they have the audacity to accept payment to cast’.

          I do think that one of the more difficult challenges for e-sports is how to attract mature members, with lots of gaming experience and other responsibilities under their belt, rather than the natural intake of youth as they come of age.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Its an inherent problem with the MOBA genre in itself, you first start playing one you are bombarded with various acronyms and expressions that you don’t have a clue about, I literally had a page bookmarked with a list of that stuff because it was necessary to learn, its something they could try and explain more with vignettes between games for sure, one thing both LoL and DOTA do at the moment is they seem to assume the people watching at least have a knowledge of the basics of the game, the rather bizzare pseudo-language (abbreviations, stuff like “he’s going to smite the blue buff away”, around 1000 item and ability names etc), this is stuff that takes a player over 100 games to learn, its not easy to get this across to people with zero experience of the game, but a top notch commentator could certainly go a way to doing that. The casters at the moment do a good job, but they are at best people who have been casting for a few years and are still a way behind some of the sports casters with 20+ years in the job.

  12. almostDead says:

    I know Day [9] does his youtube, his starcraft 2 and magic, didn’t know he was something to LoL as well?

    • Moraven says:

      And lives locally and wants to push all eSports. Why wouldn’t you want to see the biggest eSport spectacle regardless if you are focused on another game?

      I look forward to the live audience BlizzCon finals bring.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      No he didn’t have anything to do with the actual broadcast I don’t think, just a personality that showed up in much the same way they will interview celebrities ringside at a boxing match, doesn’t mean they are about to start commentating on boxing.

  13. sophof says:

    The article touches on it briefly, but the reason the players retire so early has very little to do with any ‘reflexes’ of course, but that such a career is not really something that will work for an individual in the long term. It costs the same amount of time that is usually associated with athletes, but only a fraction of the money and respect involved for ‘normal’ sports.

    As far as I know, most of these people start studying the moment they retire.

  14. DatonKallandor says:

    The problem is Riot thinks LoL needs to be presented like one of the US only sports, in the mistaken assumption that they are globally understood as good. The world doesn’t care about American Football (LoLs post-match analysis 1:1) or Basketball (LoLs big Venues) or American Wrestling (LoLs ludicrous silly opening ceremonies). If they really feel the need to imitate something (and they shouldn’t) they need to imitate truly global sports. Football (the real one), Cricket, etc.

    That means actual analysis, explanations for the newcomers and a focus on the game being played not what famous (american) band they can get to play music or (ugh) 15 minutes of cosplay contests between matches.

    • Moraven says:

      What would they be imitating? What makes Cricket and Football that big in the first place? History? Ease of access for youths to play?

      Basketball has a global appeal. People around the world know the big stars. American Football is more NA with some EU appeal. I do not believe their Asian interest are that big. Baseball is pretty big around the world with huge involvement in South America and Japan. While none have as big audience as Football, Football is still hugely focused in the EU with the year round leagues where FIFA brings on the national teams into play.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      IMO they need to use the UFC as their major influence, they would gain the most from that. There are a lot of similarities
      1 – Its a new sport that has rapidly grown over the last 10-15 years, exactly the same thing ESports is trying to achieve.
      2 – The arena and stage setting is fairly close (a ring is essentially a stage in the middle of the arena too). Also the UFC does big screen viewing very well, although you can watch the fighters in the ring sometimes you cannot tell whats going on, the big screen is necessary.
      3 – It has a similar structure to an Esports event in terms of 1st match – break – 2nd match – break – 3rd match etc, with replays and analysis in between, they can learn from timing and scheduling of the event here.
      4 – Marketing, the UFC has done this AMAZINGLY well, they have managed in a small space of time to market fighters that were not too long ago seen as bare knuckle savages and bar fighters and turned them into legitimate athletes seen as some of the best in the world, LoL pro players need the similar treatment to gradually bring more and more people around to the fact that these guys aren’t all “nerds that live in their moms basement”.
      5 – Event Production, the UFC has managed to ape boxing because of the way it is marketed and produced, they learned how to put on a fantastic show with hours of excellent competitive action, compared to boxing where the arena will remain largely empty until shortly before the main event.

      The 2 things I really criticised Riot for about the LoL finals were firstly the stupid group stage/bracketing structure they used, secondly I though holding a standalone final a week after the rest of the tournament was silly, they were seeing that final as the Wold Cup Final/Superbowl, it doesn’t fit that sort of event, seeing it as a UFC main event and filling the rest of the evening with quality action would have been much better. For example, Semi-finals on Saturday, 3rd place playoff THEN the final on Sunday, people would have been properly into their LoL by that point and the final would have been the climax. As it was the final started, 3 largely one sided games later and it ended, and tbh it felt rather flat to me.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        One big difference: The UFC use matchmakers to put together the most exciting fiights possible. Great for the audience, but that would never work in LoL, where ladder rankings mean everything to the players.

        Still, Riot could learn a lot just from Dana White’s last interview. He made a very good point that providing stories for fighters is meaningless unless there are good fights to back them up. The sport isn’t going to grow a larger audience without better commentating and more acessible shows. Nobody is going to watch a match just because of a player bio.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          True that is the one difference, LoL needs a tournament format but they are doing that well at the moment using the regional leagues/qualifiers. The end result of that should mean that the best teams play each other at the bigger events, that should essentially take care of the matchmaking if they get their seeding etc right.
          The only thing they need to fix is that ridiculous All-Star game, 4 team bye system they used to determine 4 qualifiers, straight group stage would have been fine, technically the viewers saw a lot less of what should/could have been the 4 best teams in the world, that is not something you want to happen.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      They’ve stated that they’re targeting the US audience specifically.

  15. Crainey says:

    As an avid eSports follower I can empathize with a lot of your sentiment, the intro was too over the top, the orchestra playing League of Legends music last year was much more fitting than a rave/ Then from that excitement we spent a couple of minutes watching a timer expire with the same LCS playlist I’ve listened to for the last hundred broadcasts.

    I was going to write jot down some of my complaints, but as an avid follower and a massive critic it would just turn into an essay, and I’m sitting in work at the moment so that’s not a good idea.

    While your statement of pro-gamers retiring even younger than pro-athletes is true, it should be clarified that Tabe’s situation was much more about how the Chinese eSports scene is governed. China, like Korea before it, has an organization governing their eSports scene, and a lot of people (Tabe included) claim it is corrupt, disadvantaging Chinese players and holding them back. Similar concerns were expressed at Valve’s Dota 2, The International 3. I would go into more specifics but I honestly don’t know much about the Chinese scene, it is very inaccessible to Westerners.

  16. Inzimus says:

    I honestly have no idea what any of these games are; but I suggest that we do some eSports on Epyx ‘The Games’ series (Winter Games, Summer Games World Games, etc.) on the C64
    there’s some real competitive multiplayer games; and I’d stand a chance to become a millionaire overnight!

  17. Moraven says:

    While this is one big spectacle for one game Dreamhack and other EU events have been putting on big and top quality productions for eSports. They even work with a set schedule so it is broadcasted on local TV.

    Of course there is OGN and the like which have downsized in Korea. But with LoL interest growing those channels may turn back to eSport only channels again in the future.

  18. wilynumber13 says:

    I know RPS has had very little to say on fighting games in the past, but they are increasing in number on PC and I would be very interested in seeing “An Outsider’s Critique of EVO 2014.” I think you would observe a lot more of that “home-grown” quality that you admired.

  19. JRHaggs says:

    I cannot believe that this is a thing. Truly unbelievable.

    I’m moving to the woods where the animals just play Crusader Kings and Gnomoria quietly by themselves.

  20. strangeloup says:

    Let me preface this by saying I have no problem whatsoever if people want to enjoy spectating eSports, or want to play at such a high level that they might stand a chance in this sort of tournament. There certainly seems to be a good amount of money to be made for those who are skilled enough. I can’t play MOBAs for toffee, but I’m well aware that they’re complex — too complex in my view, but I digress.

    That being said, I can genuinely not comprehend why such enormous crowds of people gather — and at events like this, pay — to watch other people play a computer game. I’ve been racking my brain for similar circumstances, and the only two I can think of are 1) back when there were more than about three decent arcades in the country, a few people might hang around to watch someone who was particularly good, which was invariably a fighting game or a DDR-type thing; and 2) you might cheer/boo a friend/rival if there were a bunch of you playing a game and taking turns — again something that works well with fighting games, from the more hardcore end of things to the lighter Smash Bros. style. In both cases you’re looking at maybe a dozen spectators tops, and often a good proportion of those would be eager to have a go themselves to see how well they could do.

    (I suppose there’s also SaltyBet, which is pretty entertaining, but in that case I think a substantial portion of the appeal comes from the unpredictable/random nature of it. And, as I recall, it’s sometimes if not always ‘played’ by the AI rather than human competitors.)

    I would be interested if someone could explain the appeal — if that’s even possible, I understand that of course there are things you either ‘get’ or you don’t. I’m also a little curious if any betting goes on — you know, a tenner on such-and-such a team to make the semifinals, things like that.

    As a weird but tenuously related aside, I’ve found that I’m getting a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of NFL and NHL videogames, which are sports that aren’t really prevalent here. I’m not sure whether this is due to their relative unfamiliarity or what, but to me they’re infinitely more fun than whatever the latest and greatest foot-to-ball game is.

    • scim says:

      First, I would say that watching people do something at the highest level always has some draw. It doesn’t matter what it is, for almost everything there is an audience. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but someone will like it.

      Second, as mentioned in the article the story lines is one of the aspects that make it interesting. However, that also requires some investment from the viewer to get acquainted with said story lines. The rivalries between teams or regions, epic comeback stories, the struggle players and teams have gone through to get where they are (there are examples for this for a ton of players in all competitive titles). And with the players being so close to the community via reddit/twitter/streaming you have a front row seat to almost everything that goes on.

      I guess it works very similarly to why people would want to watch other sports. They either want to see how professionals play, they are a fan of a certain player or team or they just enjoy watching anything competitive. For me what keeps me coming back is mostly the second part. I like the stories that emerge during events. Favorites falling, underdogs emerging victories, hard fought comebacks etc.

      You also have to realize that some of these teams and players have a huge fan following. Some of these players draw tens of thousands of viewers whenever they turn on their personal stream on Twitch.tv (where they play solo without their team, very similar to how everyone plays).

      If you want to read more about it someone at ArsTechnica wrote a very good article on how TI3 and Dota 2 made him finally get the appeal people around him always saw in regular sports. Link

      • strangeloup says:

        Thank you, the Ars article is very informative. I think someone else remarked that it’s dissimilar to regular sports watching, in that it’s possible to follow a game of (for instance) football while only knowing the broadly general rules, whereas with this type of game — and also with fighting games, I guess — it’s pretty much required to have a good knowledge of the game, as there’s perhaps not so much visual indication of a particularly good play.

        Maybe I’ll give it a shot and watch a stream sometime. I’ve not fired up DOTA2 in ages, but I vaguely remember they incorporated a spectator mode into it.

    • Svant says:

      For the same reason 50 000 people show up to watch football.

  21. Muzman says:

    Just to get meta for a second; The ‘games journalism’ aspect here is fascinating.
    Here we have ire for RPS not covering this stuff enough because its PC gaming.
    If it and its coverage on broad gaming sites continues growing at present rates I wager it’ll be 12 months tops before people are demanding (or happy that) RPS ignores it all because it’s sports.
    (or sooner)

    Looking forward to sex scandals, drug abuse, corruption and violence in the mean time though.

  22. Moorkh says:

    Are you all that sure this is good news for our pastime?

    I’m not. Just look at what professionalisation, sponsoring and big money did to other sports/pastimes…

  23. JohnnyPanzer says:

    In my opinion, the biggest hurdle eSports needs to overcome is the lack of decent commentators. It’s still all very much modeled after the style used in most, if not all, youtube channels, even when it’s live. The thing is, while that hysterical and over the top style might be very popular among the part of the population that is younger than 18-20, it’s an extreme turn-off for a lot of people, in particular among those who did not grow up with youtube channels as a legit source of information.

    You know the style:

    “HEYHEYHEYHEY Aaaaaand what! Is! UUUUUUP!!! Yo, yo everybody and this is the D-Dog in! Da! House! So we’re here in… like… whatever this place is called. Who cares, am I right? AAAAAM IIIII RIIIIGHT! YO! Okay, enough of that bullshit, let’s watch! The! Gaaaaaaaaame! *boing sound effect*”

    And on and on it goes…

  24. The Random One says:

    As someone who couldn’t care less about LoL, I found this a fascinating article. Well done, Mr Grayson.

  25. Applypoison says:

    I think we need a little more of the gaming/esport/community standpoint, and a little less of the business standpoint. You can always spend more money to make more money to pay for costs you brought in, in the first place. A little balance in the equation would be nice.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>