Hello again, eSports fans! This week’s column will run a bit differently, as I just got back from an awesome experience that I can’t help but share with you all. Over the weekend, I spent a day at the League of Legends Championship Series Studios, watching games and enjoying the presentation. I’ve been to a few eSports events before, but nothing measured up to the presentation put on by Riot.
The morning dawns slowly, as I stumble out of bed to greet it. Despite my grogginess, I can’t help but grin in anticipation of the day. My ride shows up about an hour later, and I step into it, notebook and pen in hand, and my favorite ‘GL HF’ t-shirt. Getting from my home in San Diego to the studio in Santa Monica takes roughly an hour and a half, not bad by LA standards. The drive and the early rising prove to be smart moves. As we pull into the Studio parking lot, a throng of quite obvious League of Legends fans are already assembled. After a short wait for the doors to open, a group of us are ushered into the Studio itself, past a loaded merchandise booth and towards the main stage. The inside is quite roomy (but smaller than it appears on stream), although the chairs in front are linked together a bit too closely, making elbowing my friends unavoidable. As we take our seats, the ever growing crowd’s excitement starts bubbling up, the fan gossip and chit-chat getting louder and louder. An emcee soon comes out to greet us and get the crowd ready for the upcoming matches.
After a brief intro and intermission, we are ready to start the day’s matches. Up first, League Leaders Team Solomid vs. 2nd place Cloud 9. Even on a normal day this would be a storied matchup, but this time there was another bit of news overshadowing the normal hype. Team manager and former player Reginald would be filling his old slot with the current midlaner Bjergsen out this week due to visa issues. The game started quick, snowballing in favor of C9, who took advantage of a poor TSM laning phase to push in all three outer turrets. From there, it was all map control; Could 9 maintained their lead and roamed together, eventually shoving TSM all the way back into their base for a win.
The 2nd matchup is Evil Geniuses vs Dignitas, and this one is much closer. After exchanging blows in a heated set of lanes, Dignitas takes a superior position from behind and begins to seige their inhibitor turrets. By the late game, they outscale their opponents, maintaining a tankier team composition and making good use of repeated baron buffs for the eventual win.
.In between matches, popular professionals such as Meteos, Krepo and Doublelift took to the base of the stage to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. In the downtime, I paid a quick visit to my personal hero, Primetime Shoutcaster Rivington the 3rd. Easygoing and confident, Riv was also quite cordial, if brief and busy. After exchanging a minute’s worth of info, I wander down to the merchandise booth. Stuffed Poro’s, Miniatures of famed champions, and t-shirts line the hall for sale. I pick up a poster featuring the pirate-themed champions Gangplank and Miss Fortune before returning to my seat for the start of the next game.
The 3rd match of the day is Counter Logic Gaming vs. XD Gaming, another team with lineup changes after the recent dismissal and replacement of Bloodwater that we discussed last week. Although they made a strong showing the previous day with new Support Sheep, CLG pulled no punches, earning them an honorable mention and midlaner Link took home the week’s MVP.
The last game featured Curse vs Team Coast, who have lately been making waves in the LCS with their all-star midlane Shiphtur. Curse seemed to have the early game controlled, but tragedy would strike during a 10 minute dragon fight. SaintVicious’ annie flashed in to stun and help his teammates take a few early kills, but his character mysteriously stopped moving in the midst of the pit. The game had to be paused while the refs examined his keyboard. Apparently caused by a glitch, the game went on soon afterward, but not before Saint and a few of his teammates had already been decimated. Crs seemed on tilt after that, making mistake after mistake until Coast finally shoved to win in convincing fashion.
After that it was time to go (my ride was getting antsy, and LA traffic is not a thing to mess with) So we said our goodbyes to the LCS Studio and took off with a sizeable chunk of the crowd. The drive home was quicker than expected, and my friends and I shared bits of our favorite moments as we cruised down the 405 Highway. All in all, it was a fantastic experience. Kudos to the staff at Riot, the players and showmen who made it possible. I can’t wait to go back.