How To Get Into LoL eSports!
By Beau Gosney
With the Superbowl wrapped up for another year, and what a game it was, I have a suggestion for those of you hankering for that competitive fix – why not dip your toes into the exponentially expanding world of eSports?
The 2017 season of League of Legends has already kicked off around the globe, with the number of localized leagues growing into double digits. I suggest the LoL scene as a good place to start because it’s so accessible. The game itself is pretty traditional in that each person on the five player team has a position and different duties they can fulfill within those bounds. It also boasts the biggest player base of any competitive video game – according to the game’s developers it reached over 100 million unique players a month at the end 2016, not to mention the most eSport hours watched on Twitch of the same year. It helps that their broadcast teams are the leaders in eSports, putting on an enjoyable and informative show with plenty of excitement.
One of the most established LoL competitions is the North American League Core Split, or NA LCS. It’s a short, sweet format with a nine week season followed by three weeks of playoffs, running twice a year – the Spring and Summer Splits. 10 teams consisting of national and international talent compete across the splits in two best-of-three series each weekend. The NA LCS runs live out of LA, with a full house of fans watching every competition day. There is always a buzz in the audience, hyped up by the commentators and the big plays on screen. To give you an idea, landing a crowd-control skillshot is as crucial as nailing a three-pointer, and getting a Barron steal is as game changing as a pick-six. There are also storied rivalries and trash talk aplenty to get your competitive heart pounding.
Some of the North American teams have become household names across multiple eSports after forming in the early days of LoL – including Cloud 9, Team SoloMid, and Team Liquid. The latter was just bought into by Magic Johnson along with the owners of the Warriors and the Wizards. Yep, that’s right – with the rapidly growing popularity of eSports, traditional sporting teams and owners are really taking notice. It seems almost everyone in NA is being bought up by big sporting names, particularly NBA folk. Rick Fox and his son have a team, Grizzlies owner Stephen Kaplan has a team, the 76ers and the Bucks both just bought in to the 2017 Spring Split too. It’s not exclusive to the States either. Ahead of the 2017 season in Europe, Paris Saint-Germain and Valencia just formed their own LoL teams. It is certainly an exciting time to get into the scene.
I mentioned the great broadcasting job across the leagues, yet the North American league definitely features some of the smoothest production. The replays alone make for a fantastic show. The commentators, or casters, are pretty much all excellent, with impressive knowledge and a little humor on display. Just as important are the analyst segments, which are always informative and well produced. Every game is streamed live on Twitch and YouTube, then put up as VODs on lolesports.com. If you like a little more analysis, or want a rundown on what is happening in the other leagues, check out Prime Time League. PTL is a weekly, hour-long show by the NA broadcast team, with cameos from other leagues, that packs in the best highlights, insights, and wacky fun.
All in all League of Legends eSports is definitely a fun and thrilling competition to follow. Whether you’re familiar with the game or not check it out and see what all the fuss is about. I promise I’m not getting paid anything to say that either.