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WATCHLIST: League of Legends World Championships

WATCHLIST: League of Legends World Championships

The Pitch:

As the League of Legends World Championship hurtles towards its dazzling conclusion, only a handful of teams remain in contention for one of esports’ biggest and most prestigious prizes. No matter what esport you prefer, you owe it to yourself to tune into the semifinals this weekend.

How To Watch:

League of Legends Worlds: http://watch.na.lolesports.com/en_US/worldchampionship/en


Even in the quieter moments of the Dota 2 season, I end up watching a lot of Dota 2. Right now there’s Dreamleague 6, but unless you’re an Alliance fan there’s not really a ton happening there until the main event kicks off at the end of November, and then the qualifiers for the Boston Major will start up later next week. But what if you just need that quality esports content this weekend? What if your Dota 2-starved brain is scratching at the inside of your skull, demanding satiation? There’s basically nothing happening for you this weekend… unless you want to watch… League of Legends? Hear me out, because I once sat where you sit, laughing my Serious Esports Only laugh. LCS Worlds has been a blast.

One of the best stories from Worlds this year has already played out. Starting from the Wildcard slot, Russian team Albus NoX Luna tore through established squads CLG, G2, and – in the last day of the group stages – ROX Tigers. They made it all the way to the quarterfinal before losing 3-0 to the British team, H2K.

In a speech to rival the best of MoonMeander, ANX support player Likkrit directly addresses the audience after beating G2. The audience hears salt in his frankness and calls out, salivating in anticipation of a beef or a perfect beat-down, but Likkrit reaches out to silence them, and rephrases, and thanks G2 for playing well and playing respectfully. The audience switches from jeering to clapping, and the interviewer is visibly taken aback. They might be out of the running now, but in the words of Likkrit – and dang if I don’t get a little emotional hearing him say it –”being an underdog doesn’t mean being a loser.”

If you play a lot of Dota 2, League can look very familiar, but I think it focuses on different elements of the lane-pushing game. Dota 2 is very interested in the team economy and the gold stats of the carry player. Plenty of games are won because support players manage to secure for their carries huge amounts of farm in the jungle, or because they caught the enemy carry in the process of trying to farm the jungle.

In League, the instant turns, relatively low cooldown abilities, and numerous movement options mean that the game is more about the back-and-forth pressure in a lane. Spells fly pretty constantly, as harass (or “poke” in the LoL lexicon), or as the precursor to a fight that usually streaks across the map as heroes  champions flit and dodge out of the way. It’s a little bit like half of the characters are Puck.

On top of that, the jungle – with no pulls or random camps – is almost completely different. Junglers are still a thing over there, and they’re one of the most interesting parts of the game, balancing their own timings on jungle creatures and the buffs they give with the players they can hand those buffs off to and the ganks they have to show up to. I’m still learning my League, but I know a whole lot can happen because of a capable jungler.

Last year, in a four-game final that 27M people watched, SKT (owned by and named for South Korea’s largest wireless provider) beat the KOO Tigers (who’ve since had a change of sponsorship and are now the ROX Tigers). These two teams go head-to-head again Friday night at 6. Then on Saturday, H2K will play Samsung Galaxy. After that, the qualifiers for the Boston Major will start up later next week, but I’ll miss a fair bit of it because LCS finals start on the 29th at 7:30pm.

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