Sunday, 29 September 2013

/r/leagueoflegends DISSECTED! #1 "How long will league as an (e-)sports survive?"

The League of the Legends subreddit, r/leagueoflegends is the most popular League related subreddit and it is extremely active, being the #40 of subreddits in terms of subscribers and #9 for submissions per day. Most people who are active in the League of Legends community, that is, those that participate in League related activity on various social media sites and watch the pro leagues probably have visited the subreddit at some point in time. This popularity means the posts on the front page of reddit varying wildly in content and quality. I often get annoyed at the quality of the posts on the front page and so I have decided to pick a few that I would like to express some of my opinions on this blog.

So introducing the first post for dissection! "How long will league as an (e-)sports survive?"

So this is actually a very good question. League of Legends is a relatively new game and e-sports is a relatively new and widely unknown concept. Not many games have (arguably none in some regions of the world) experienced this type of popularity in terms of the e-sport scene. Riot is putting on events that are on a scale that have not been tried in e-sports scene, viewer numbers are huge and apparently rising. But as always people ask how long will this last? There are a lot of factors that will contribute to this and it's very difficult to know how any one of these factors will play out in the future.
This redditor, however, expresses that they, personally, had realised that watching the games was getting increasingly boring for them. Which is fair enough, not everyone can enjoy every game. However, then they go on to say "Don't get me wrong yesterday's game were really exciting..." just said they were boring! They can't be both exciting and boring at the same time. I can accept though that perhaps they are allowing for other peoples personal opinions just phrasing it in an awkward way. But then comes the next bit...

"With more and more experience the amount of mistakes and throws will get lower. If this trend stays there will be a point where games are decided with first blood or the first lane losing. Right now games are exciting because the leading team makes mistakes or wrong calls."


The poster is actually suggesting that as pro players get better the game will be less interesting because the only reason why people watch the game is apparently to see if a team will make a mistake and "throw" the game. 

People apparently don't want to see top level plays and strategies being made by top teams and top players. Oh no, they want to see questionable 19 minute Barons (I'm looking at you Vulcan), fail flashes and missed skill shots! I find this really hard to believe, people love players like Uzi and Faker for a reason, people love teams like Fnatic and SKT T1 for a reason. They make the plays and they don't make mistakes. If more people prefer watching sloppy play then I feel there is something wrong with the game of League of Legends itself. 
The redditor points out that the top level teams know how to push objectives and capitalize on a lead. Well of course they do! A pro team should be able to use an advantage properly. This isn't some casual silver solo queue game where the champions run around randomly for 40 minutes.   You don't practice 12+ hours a day and not know when you should take a tower after a good team fight.

One redeeming feature of this post is that they express the concern about how the "snowballing" effect means that games can be decided in the first few minutes depending on what happens, if there's a first blood, who wins lane. This a legitimate concern not just for competitive play but for casual play as well, since if the game becomes too easy to snowball then it's not exactly the most fun to watch or play. However, this post suggests that League is super snowbally, which it isn't (at least at the moment), most of the time teams have a chance to come back - just like a soccer team 3 goals behind (to use the same comparison as in the post) has a chance. But do you think a professional soccer team would let the opposing team get 3 goals to even it out? If they were any good, of course not. Same with League. League is a lot more complicated in terms of format and gameplay then soccer so it's not exactly the same. But that's what I like about it. If I wanted to watch soccer, I'd watch soccer.
I think in terms of pro play, you have to take into account that teams don't just chill out and see what happens. They have a plan. They know what to do if they get first blood or if they don't. They (hopefully) know about the strengths and weaknesses of their team composition as well as the enemies compositions. If both teams are of equal skill level then these strategies will play themselves out which is what is interesting to watch.

MVP Ozone destroyed CJ Entus Blaze in the OGN Champions Spring Final because they were the first to hard counter Blaze's minion push strategy. It was probably the most unexpected victory  in the history of League of Legends. Faker won a 1 v 1 against a 100% health Ryu with less than half health in the Championship Summer final. C9 dominated the NA LCS with an unexpected Ashe/Zyra combo and carry jungler. Fnatic left opponents baffled in S3 Worlds' group stages and EU LCS regionals with their double teleport strategy.  These are plays that should be remembered, not that questionable team fight engage at Baron, that missed flash or level 1 brush face check.

The poster then sums it up saying they think the snowbally nature of League is why people will stop caring about League as an e-Sports very soon. While I think this is a concern and Riot needs to avoid creating a game that can easily snowball, I don't think in any way it is an issue at this time (in terms of people caring about League as an e-Sports, not that changes to the game shouldn't be made as the strategies evolve). Gold leads aren't always snowballed in the first ten minutes of the game, games that have huge gold differences aren't always boring to watch. Mistakes and bad play aren't the only thing that can turn games around. Statistics tell you about win rates and objective securing but do not say ANYTHING about the enjoyment factor. This redditor describes themself as an addict. But I don't think you can assume that others only watch the games to see if one team "throws".

A Brutal TL;DR: Don't complain when you think that "throws" are the most interesting parts of the game and they aren't happening as often because increased skill levels. That's just nuts. You might be watching the game're doing it wrong.

Or at least forgetting there is a whole host of other reasons to watch a pro match. Perhaps you should spend some time on r/bestofbronze.

Thanks for reading =)  You can find me on twitter @gerarda, leave comments! Tweet feedback at me! Also sorry for the length, I am not very good at making short posts it seems but I shall try to shorten future posts. 

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