Published on January 29th, 2013 | by Gary Kirwan
League Goes Legit. You’re Hired!
Have you ever tried playing League of Legends while watching a stream of the same on your other monitor? I don’t recommend it. Sounds blend together to the point where you’ll react to actions not even taking place in your game, and you’ll look like an idiot swatting at ghosts. Learn from my mistakes, that’s why I’m here. This is what transpired over the weekend while I watched the EU Championship Series qualifiers – sixteen teams battling over five places to become salaried professionals. Not a bad prize, all things considered. It’s like The Apprentice for eSports. Only nobody wears a suit.
Before the tournament in Warsaw, Poland even began there was all kinds of drama – eSports long-time partner in crime, Riot came out swinging the ban hammer, catching Team Solo Mebdi square on the jaw, and knocking them out of proceedings. It seems three of their five players have been a bit naughty, with two receiving lifetime bans from everything ever, and the third suspended from entering tournaments for a year. A former account of one of the individuals even holds the record for worst behaviour ever recorded on the EU West server having been reported over 1,000 times in the span of 375 games (and all within a three month period), while another’s harassment score fell into the worst 0.01% of all European accounts.
On the one hand it’s a shame that the other two, presumably well behaved, members of the team have to suffer, but on the other Riot needs these kinds of precedents to keep everyone in line and preserve the integrity of the competition.If any of the online harassment were to spill over to, for example, an interview with a gaming outlet it paints a bad picture of League of Legends – not to mention the eSports community as a whole. Team Solo Mebdi must also have been aware of the attitude of its members and either didn’t consider it a problem or turned a blind eye, so sympathy over the announcement isn’t exactly forthcoming.
The tournament itself didn’t disappoint and gave some of the newer emerging teams a chance to make their mark. It’s certainly good to see some fresh blood take it to the established names, especially after Season 2 being dominated by the same three or four outfits. Big surprises were fan favourites Fnatic being taken down by Giant Gaming and DragonBorns who seemed to excel and collapse from one moment to the next before securing the final place in the last day of play. The five teams from this weekend’s games join the three big names who’ve already qualified for Season 3. And if we learned anything it’s that Kha’zix should always be banned, picking up double and triple kills whenever he pleases. Going into the new season we’ll be able to watch the EU teams face off against each other every Saturday and Sunday on live streams.
EU Championship Series:
- SK Gaming
- Gambit Gaming (formerly M5.BENQ)
- Evil Geniuses (formerly CLG.eu)
- Giant Gaming
- Copenhagen Wolves
- Against All Authority
Across the pond, the North American scene has always been home to some of the bigger boys and, even with three of the more recognisable teams already through, the Championship Series qualifiers held two weeks ago saw some big hitters take to the stage. The heavily favoured Curse lived up to expectations, dominating several games to secure their place. In particular Voyboy, previously benched and then dropped from Counter Logic Gaming after their poor showing at Season 2 finals last year, was a man-mode powerhouse. In fact, Curse is fast becoming a team of players who abandoned the troubled ship that is Counter Logic Gaming, with three of their starting five now former members. When the two face off in Season 3 it should be an interesting event to watch.
They were joined by Good Game University, The Brunch Club, Team FeaR and, after the final day of matches, Team MRN. The big upset from the weekend must surely be the defeat of Epik Gamer, a long-standing team of well-known names, to Team Towerdive TV. Epik Gamer’s long running tradition of never quite making it to the big money continues unabashed. Again, Kha’zix reigned supreme. Just ban him guys, seriously. Stupid insect. The NA teams are scheduled to face each other every Thursday and Friday going into Season 3, all of which will be streamed and commentated by Riot themselves.
NA Championship Series:
- Team SoloMid
- Counter Logic Gaming
- Team Dignitas
- Curse Gaming
- Team MRN
- Team FeaR
- Good Game University
- The Brunch Club
The significance of qualifying can’t be stressed enough as it gives each of these players a guarantee of being a professional gamer for the next year, and the chance of coming away with the big end of season prize pot. As expressed in the recent Curse video, it was all or nothing as failing to qualify would mean finding another means of income for most of them. Lautermortis of The Brunch Club probably summed it up best in his post-game interview:
“I feel amazing. Someone just said I get a big contract and a huge house.”
In other LoL eSports news, last week saw the Intel Extreme Masters take place in Katowice. A melting pot of talent from across the globe saw big names such as NA’s Curse, EU’s SK Gaming and Korea’s Azubu Frost & Blaze take to the stage to battle for a $15,500 prize. Both Azubu teams dominated their respective groups going 3-0 while second place in Group B was taken by Fnatic defeating SK Gaming in spectacular fashion. Group A proved to be a bit more complex as all three remaining teams were tied on 1-0-2. A strange IEM rule based on the least amount of time in-game (i.e. who lost the fastest) saw Gambit Gaming (the renamed European champions M5.BENQ) advance to the semis.
It looked like it was Korea’s tournament to win one way or another – especially after Azubu Blaze took down Fnatic in the first playoff game. It was around this time that Gambit Gaming seemed to decide it was time to stop messing about and attacked Azubu Frost relentlessly for the duration of their matchup. It was much more like the team that had topped the European circuit for most of last year, and put rest to accusations that they’d lost their magic in the downtime since the Season 2 finals. The eventual victory of the EU team should give the Koreans pause for thought in light of their past domination. And, imagine my surprise, Kha’zix was all over the place. Leaping about like a crazed praying mantis. Jerk.
For those of us not up to the standard of them what make the monies, Riot has announced some changes to the ranking system. ELO, that magical, terrible number which indicates your relative skill level and dictates your matchmaking, shall be no more. Huzzah! Well, kind of. It will still be there for matchmaking purposes but you won’t be able to see it. Instead we’ll get a tiered league system stretching from Bronze to Diamond in familiar Starcraft fashion, and Challenger for teams of tournament hopefuls.
Winning games will accrue League Points with advancement to the next division at 100 points. The bad news is that losing games will see your League Points drop but you won’t be able to fall below the lowest division of your current league. Complex enough for you? So once you make it into the Silver league you’ll be there until you advance or stop playing the game for an extended period.
What this new system does is create a clear progression path. You can see how you sit in relation to your friends based on league and division, as opposed to the current system which could see a person at 1300 rating and one at 1400 be separated by thousands of players. The downside is you can still be matched with anyone from any league based on your matchmaking rating. I had hoped that the smaller divisions would create small pocket communities where I might get to know my regular opponents along with their strengths, weaknesses and various play styles. Instead it’ll remain much as is in terms of the faceless fodder you’ll encounter. I can’t remember the last time I even looked at the names of players on my team as opposed to the champion they’re playing, but we do gain a little more transparency in terms of advancement.
The net result is a change for the better, but one would hope that it’s a step towards further improvements. It also gives online teams another chance at making it to the pro circuit as at mid-season the current pool of eight will be cut in half and the top ranked teams will fight to the death (virtual death, of course) to make it into the big leagues. Oh, and if you want to get a jump on getting placed into a higher league I would suggest learning to play or banning Kha’zix. That dude is nuts.