Yesterday was the first match of the SK Telecom LTE-A LoL Masters 2014, a new tournament run in Korea by OnGamenet. Similar to last year’s OGN Club Masters this tournament has a longer running format and revolves around the idea of the KeSPA organisations battling it out. The organisations in this tournament are SK Telecom T1, Samsung Galaxy Khan, Jin Air Green Wings, CJ Entus, Incredible Miracle, KT Rolster and Najin emFire.
Unlike in other tournaments where the focus is on single teams, LoL Masters focuses on the organisations that own the teams. Each organisation has two LoL teams that will work together to bring glory to their organisation's name. Every match day will pit one organisation against another with both teams taking to the rift to battle it out in three games. The first two games utilizes the traditional rosters of an organisation's teams while for the third game an organisation can field a team of any mix of players they decide on the day. For example yesterday the two organisations battling it out were CJ Entus and Jin Air GreenWings. The first game was Jin Air Stealths vs CJ Frost, the second; Jin Air Falcons vs CJ Blaze. In the final game both organisations chose to use their successful teams of the day; the Stealths for Jin Air and Blaze for CJ Entus. Points are earned or lost depending on the outcome of the three games, and presumably the teams with the most points at the end of the round of initial matches will go in to a playoff stage to determine who goes into the final.
LoL Masters is a chance for the organisations to show off their teams and players in the quest to claim the prestigious title as well as the not insignificant prize money. This tournament is not about trying to be the single best team in Korea or trying to get to the World Championships (results in Masters have no effect on teams getting to Worlds), it's more a vehicle for the KeSPA organisations to show off their teams and get the opportunity to plaster their name and sponsors everywhere. This is obvious right down to the production of the show at Yongsan eSports stadium. The introduction sequence left no one in doubt which organisations were playing in the tournament, the broadcast hamming up the spectacle right down to lifting a curtain to reveal the players for each match.
While the exclusiveness of this tournament could be seen to have kind of an old boys club vibe where they congratulate themselves on being rich while making more money, it does not mean that these games aren't worth watching. In Korea, winning is of utmost importance, to fans and sponsors alike, so luckily for viewers the richest teams are usually also the best teams (in Korea and also the world) and their hunger for that first place will mean these matches are exciting matches for spectators.
Useful links: Tournament structure/schedule
Thanks for reading! This post is part of my League of Legends in 500 Words or Less series, it's only the second one but I aim to get better at these over time for more interesting reading, please read the intro for more information. Also follow me on twitter @gerarda, I love feedback! =)