Sunday, 6 October 2013

The End of the World...Championships S3

So, the third season of professional League of Legends has come to a close, with the Korean team SK Telecom T1 taking the Summoners Cup in a 3-0 victory. The event as the Staples Center in Los Angeles California was a much hyped event, and as I watched the live broadcast that started at 11am in my hometown I felt pretty excited about the whole League eSports scene. I think, overall, the final event and more so the whole World Championship was a raging success and I wish I could have been in LA, for at least some of the matches. I am going to try my best to be wherever Season 4 Worlds is held. Anyway here are some of my thoughts about the two teams and the final match.

OK, so if you didn't know this already, then I am not sure where you have been for the last three weeks. SKT T1 have shown nothing but dominance since the start of OGN Summer. To this day (since the Summer season began), they have only lost a total of 7 games, 1 to Samsung Galaxy Ozone, 3 to KT Bullets, 1 to OMG and 2 to Najin Black Sword. The only best of series they have lost (since their debut in Spring) was in OGN Spring was to Ozone. If this isn't the pedigree of the World Championship team, then I don't know what is. Keeping this in mind, I was really surprised that most people on the broadcast (except the viewers and MonteCristo) thought Royal would win. I don't know if this was people just trying to hype up the match or what, but it seemed strange to see barely anyone picked SKT to win. I know there was a lot of hype around the Korean teams *cough*MonteCristo*cough*Hypetrain*cough* and also because Ozone didn't perform as well as expected, I think all this hype tricked a lot of people in to thinking that Korea wasn't as good they actually are. MonteCristo was the main public advocate of Korea on the English stream and people unfamiliar with his style and personality probably assumed he was just being arrogant or biased a lot of the time. But everyone seems to forget that he is (afterwards) quite often right and despite his large ego and support of Korean teams, he never hesitates to admit being wrong or to call out Korean teams (or any other teams) on their bad play or preparation. SKT T1 allowed Monte, and many others, to ride the hype train all the way to the Summoners Cup, which Impact may or may not get to drink Coke out of.

Royal Club may have lost but they actually won
...our hearts. Royal Club are a great team, but not great enough to shut down the power house that is SKT T1. However, they had no lack of support for trying. I am pretty certain that most people at the Staples Center were cheering for Royal, even as they held SKT signs. Royal's fan appeal skyrocketed, thanks pretty much entirely to their support player Tabe and his ability to speak exceptional English. If he had not been so eloquent, yet at the same time candid and honest about himself and his team, their performance and personalities, I think Royal would not have been able to get as many fans in the Staple Center cheering for them as they did. His story was not only one that resonated with viewers (him wanting money to be able to marry his girlfriend, plus his brotherly relationship with Uzi and leadership role in the team) but also filled the void in that story element that so drives the Western eSports scene. This void was created by the fact that no English speaking team managed to get through to the finals, leaving those who do not speak Chinese or Korean having to connect to players via subtitles or translators. Now,  I don't want people to think I think all eSports pros should speak English. No, of course not. A lot of fans care about the players themselves, but this connection only goes so far when the communication element is broken up by a translation. It's just not the same. Also, regardless of this language barrier, no other player in the finals teams had such an interesting story. SKT T1 is full of young ambitious talent, which is a story in itself - the fact they have got so far so quickly is to be admired but, it's not heart string tugging stuff. Faker isn't about to put his successful career aside and retire because he wants to spend more time with his plants. Tabe also introduced everyone to a new type of out spoken player, rather than the trash talking commonly seen, a humble yet opinionated support player emerged from the trash talking herd. It was very refreshing and Riot could not have hoped for a better story/personality than Tabe's to drive Royal's hype to the finals.

It has been thoroughly enjoyable following both NA and the EU LCS, the Korean OGN and the Chinese LPL. I wish I could have seen more of the games I missed, especially in the SEA and Taiwan regions which I really saw nothing of, due to laziness and also to having no idea where to look. Next season I hope to be more vigilant and watch more. I am excited for the WCG games that start in Korea on the 14th, which I think will be the first pro action to happen after Worlds. And on that note, I'll see you in Season 4.

Lol, jk, I will probably write more on this blog about League before then. Thanks for reading, follow me @gerarda on Twitter and leave comments and feedback and fun stuff. 

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