League of Legends Proves Esports can be Taken Seriously

Imagine watching something that 36 million other people are watching. Is it the Olympics or the Superbowl? Well, the answer might surprise you.

It was the 2015 “League of Legends World Championship”. 36 million people tuned in to watch teams of five battle for supremacy in an online computer game. There is expected to be even more people tuning in to watch from Sept. 29 to Oct. 29 for the 2016 World Championship.

“League of Legends” is a M.O.B.A., which stands for multiplayer online battle arena and the goal of this game is to beat the other team by destroying their base, or what is called, the nexus that is protected by towers who shoot back at players and minions that defend towers and the base. A game with such a simple goal and only one map could easily become repetitive, like “Pong.”

“Pong,” the earliest arcade video game ever made, features a table tennis-like sport featuring two-dimensional graphics. The player controls the in-game paddle by moving up and down on the left side of the screen while competing with either a computer-controlled challenger or a real player. The paddles are used to hit a ball back and forth until one of the players reaches 11 points. This type of gameplay can get stale and repetitive really quick without any changes to the game to make it interesting and fun.

However, diversity and interest is achieved in two ways in “League of Legends.” Five different roles, and 132 different champions. Players will be able to control characters called “champions,” who each have their own set of unique abilities. Each champion begins every match at a low level and have to gain experience over the duration of the match to get to the maximum level of 18.

There are three paths in the game that champions are able to go to compete and fight against the enemy players in that same path. There is a “top lanner”, which are usually champions with a lot of health and armor. The “mid lanner” are champions who are more magic power or assassin-type champions. The bottom lane consists of two champions, one named the ADC, or attack damage carry, usually is a ranged marksman attacker who provides the most damage in team fights. The ADC is partnered with a support champion who helps the ranged player and secure enemy kills in order to become stronger than the enemy while at the same time protecting them. Last of all, the fifth champion goes into the dark space in between the three lanes, called the jungle. The jungle consists of monsters and creatures that help the “jungler” become stronger. The jungler can also provide help in each lane to secure kills for their teammates.

Even though every champion cannot be played in all roles, there are enough champions available to each role so normal players do not have to play the same champion over and over.

The champions all offer a completely unique experience as well, from an ice archer who can deal tons of damage and a ghost creature who can move the other team’s champions around and absorb their souls.

There is a double edged sword to this situation, because some champions are stronger than others. If someone in the game picks a champion that is currently weak due to weekly updates from Riot, the developers, that team will be at a disadvantage, even if that player is very good at the game.

One place you don’t see that happen is in the competitive scene of “League of Legends.” Champions that have a higher win advantage and overall power will be the only ones picked. In championship series between two teams, where they face off in a best-of-five, you will most likely see the same champions for every game.

What ultimately decides those games depends on the individual’s skill, but also their preparation, strategy and their ability to play as a group of five.

That is what makes League of Legends so interesting in my opinion. It is how different the game can be in every game.

Playing organized games with the SHSU e-sports team have been some of the most fun I have had with the game. Being in the same room with the four people I’m playing with, talking about what our next move is going to be and beating the opponent with thought out plans is satisfying.

The professional competitive scene also has a huge following, with professional teams in countries all over the world.

In North America, the rivalry on par with SHSU and SFA can be compared to Cloud 9 and TSM.

TSM, or Team Solo Mid, has appeared in all eight NA finals, but C9 is not far behind with five.

When they met in the most recent finals on Sunday, TSM took a convincing 3-1 victory over Cloud 9, cementing their title as the best team in North America, for another year.

The games are made even more intense due to the connection that can be made with the professional players through various online platforms.

With the use of YouTube and Twitch.tv, a popular video game streaming website, fans can get to know the professionals much better than in most “traditional” sports, where little to no contact can be made between them.

One player from Cloud 9, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, averages about 14,000 viewers for his nightly four plus hour gaming streams. Viewers can donate money to Scuderi showing their support to the player as well as have song requests and funny messages through donations.

The feeling that anyone has the potential to get to the professional scene even though they aren’t gifted athletes is reassuring. You don’t have to be fast, or tall or even strong. You just have to be able to have great awareness of your surroundings in the game and have great hand-eye coordination.

This makes competitive “League of Legends” very exciting to watch. You try to take what they do, and apply it to your every day play, and improve little by little until maybe, you can be lucky enough to play in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden in front of thousands of people in person and online.

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