LoL World Championship

I’ve mentioned before that I’m currently enrolled in the Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media course at the University of Toronto. As part of the course I’m supposed watch a live event and post about it on Twitter.  

I originally meant to stick pretty close to the assignment parameters and not expand too much on those tweets. But, after taking part in the event, I feel like there’s a lot to say about context and how I feel after contributing more to the Twitter community. Without further delay, let me take you through my tweets following the League of Legends 2020 World Championships quarter finals last game.  

Note: If you really don’t know anything about League of Legends, you should watch a game before reading this article.  

I mentioned in my first tweet that I haven’t played League of Legends (LoL) in many years. I usually tell people that I haven’t played since Riven came out, and that’s how I figure it’s been about 9 years since my last game.  

I do watch a fair amount of LoL esports though. I’m not sure what initially got me interested in watching, but there’s always a crowd, it’s exciting, and it’s really the closest I’ve ever been to following a sport. With the cancelation of live events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was really the only thing I could think of talking about for the assignment.  

One thing that bothers me is the inconsistencies that exist between the different professional leagues of LoL. It’s great that every league feels different. That difference is achieved through having league-specific casters, events, sponsors, and streams, but one thing that I can’t get over is bad UI design.  

As I watch games during the LoL Worlds Championship, I’ve become increasingly bothered by how little effort seems to be put into the viewer interface. I tend to watch mostly the LCK, which is the Korean LoL league. In trying to figure out why that’s the case, I found one reason to be that the LCK emphasizes its interface.  

I mentioned in the above tweet that I wish they showed the names of champions as they were hovered by players. I know that this frustration comes in part because I’m not as familiar with the game as most other viewers, but I think there’s something to be said for all the viewers that are like me and watch games because of the esports aspect of it rather than out of an inherent love of LoL.  

I spend half my time in this blog talking about community. Setting up an interface that’s friendly to new viewers is an obvious step in building community for esports. There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have kept watching the LCK if the barriers to understanding what was happening were as high as they are during the World Championship.  

Like any burgeoning sports fan, one of the things I had to do while watching the game is to pick a team to root for. Because I tend to watch the Korean LoL most, I figured I would pick the Korean team in this matchup. It was a little unfortunate, but no less fun, that the team I picked couldn’t perform at the same level as their opponent in this match.  

One of the things that happens in esports, and particularly in MOBAs, is that some characters end up getting picked more often than others. This becomes the “Meta” of the game, and the result is that games end up looking like one another.  

The above tweet was a funny moment in the match between GenG and G2 and outlines the fact that there tends to be a lack of originality in how teams draft their champions. There’s plenty to be said about the reasons for that, but I do appreciate folks pointing it out as I think it’s good for the long-term growth of the sport, especially if it’s to become more viewer oriented.  

I already mentioned community, but it was special for me to feel like I was contributing to LoL’s community despite not playing the game. It was great to see everyone on Twitter post and talk about the games as they were happening, and it really opened my eyes to what Twitter can be used for.  

More than ever before, I see value in the way that Twitter presents conversations happening on the platform, and it’s great to see that everyone can have a voice despite the number of people commenting. It’s rare to see that on social media because popular voices usually drown out others.  

I was up at 0300 to watch this match take place. I was tired but also excited to be taking part in the event. When the second game ended and G2 was in the lead, I was happy at the thought of being able to get more sleep once the match was over, but also sad that it would be over so quickly. 

Another advantage of Twitter is being able to retweet things that are relevant without having to know the entire context behind it. I don’t actually know who Azael is, but I knew he worked for Riot Games, the folks behind LoL.  

The reason I retweeted this is that it points to an interesting aspect of esports. Despite LoL existing as an esport for a comparatively long time, it’s still new. Statistics like the fact that there had never been a reverse sweep until this World Championships highlights the idea that even though hundreds of professional games have already been played, esports is a new thing.  

For me, that reflection is exciting because I can’t wait to see what happens in the future for esports. It’s also strange because I fully realize that my interest in esports is almost entirely rooted in my generation and my other interests in video games and digital communities.  

I retweeted Sandy because she said everything that needed to be said about the end of the match in fewer words than I would have.  

Sandy is also in the same course as me, so it was nice to see us two as the smallest subset of our #digitaledu community within this bigger event. To me, this speaks to the interconnectivity of all internet communities.  

This tweet was important to me because it recognizes the work that the casters do in making esports fun and engaging. Even though I watch the Korean league, I can still keep up because of English casts. It’s what helps make the community feel so close.  

Usually I’m happy to listen to LS and Atlus, but I felt that Vedius and Medic did an amazing job at engaging me as a new viewer. It also felt special for my tweet to be liked by both casters, because it made me feel like I belonged in the community.  

This sense of belonging is my most important takeaway from taking part in the event, and it made it clear why an assignment like this one is so important in trying to understand social media. I would never have seen this side of Twitter if I hadn’t actively engaged with an event and a community like I had to here.  

I wanted my last tweet of the event to be thankful. I had a wonderful time and I’m hoping that by putting out positivity I can convince others to join the community and discover a new passion.  

It’s also incredible to me that esports find so many viewers. For an event that took place early in the morning in North America, it still had a crazy turnout. We’re also talking about a single platform here, and there were probably more views coming in from YouTube and maybe even Facebook.  

Watching LoL esports is a great way for me to relax, and I’m honest when I say I can’t wait to see what’s next for the game, for the sport, and for esports overall.  

Notes

I framed this article differently then I usually do. Because so many elements were directly embedded into the article, I wasn’t sure whether a notes section would be needed or not. I decided on adding one because I could plug all the folks I mentioned once again and provide you with easy links.  

People I mentioned:  
LS@LSXYZ9 
Atlus@Atlustv 
Vedius@RiotVedius 
Medic@MedicCasts 
Azael@RiotAzael 
@Sandy_McGill3 

Check out these organizations:  
LoL@lolesports 
GenG@GenG 
G2@G2esports 

Further readings:  
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena 
Game “Meta” 
League of Legends 

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