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Esports: why follow the League of Legends World Championship

League of Legends World Championship 2013. Photo credits: Chris Yunker/Riot Games

It’s that time of the year again! The League of Legends (abridged in LoL) World Championship will soon begin. With the esports phenomenon rising quickly over the last few years, this competition still embodies everything that the area can possibly offer. So why not take this opportunity to jump in?

Worlds 2018 Login Theme. Credits: Surrender at 20/Riot Games

Born in 2009, League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena developed by Riot Games (a company originally from Ireland), based on the second Defense of the Ancient (DotA2) opus. To put it simply, it opposes two teams composed of five players, which are looking to destroy the enemy base (called the ‘Nexus’). Each player must fulfill a particular role, according to the part of the ‘map’ they head to at the beginning of a new game. The upper part of the map is called the ‘top lane’, and two players face each other. The same model applies to the ‘middle lane’. However, in the ‘bottom lane’, four players seek domination. The remaining player is called ‘jungler’ because of his movements in a forest-like environment. His team relies on him to ‘gank’ each lane. The word comes from a contraction of ‘gang up to kill’; the jungler’s role consists in coming when the enemy team doesn’t expect it to fight with a numerical advantage and put his ‘laners’ ahead. Then, each lane contains 3 ‘towers’ – a total of eleven with the two ‘nexus towers’ – all of whom protects each team’s base. Destroy the base and you win. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

What is ‘esports’?

Esports is a term used to describe everything that has to do with competitive video games. Whether to call it ‘sports’ or not has been, is and will probably be discussed. LoL represents an important part in it, as with the battle-royale Fortnite they gather the most followers. Of course, many more games can pretend to be part of the ‘esports phenomenon’, such as Counter-Strike (one of the oldest one, it existed way before LoL was even an idea), a lot of Blizzard-branded games, the company behind the ever-so-popular World of Warcraft (e.g. Hearthstone (a card game), StarCraft (maybe the game that began esports) & StarCraft II, or Overwatch (if LoL was a first-person shooter)), PlayerUnknownBattlegrounds (abridged in PUBG) & H1Z1 (battle-royale type games that got crushed in terms of viewership because of Fortnite), and even games not only PC-playable (Fortnite falls into that category, but there are more PC players), like Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, FIFA and Rocket League (a game mixing cars and soccer). However, because Fortnite’s model as an esport must still be optimized, the best competitions to follow are probably LoL ones. And, as its name suggests, the LoL World Championship could be seen as the ‘World Cup’ of the game.

More than just a tournament

So why follow this one in particular? Well, first of all, it takes place in Asia, and more precisely in South Korea. And whatever anyone argues, South Korea raises the best esports players in the world. It remains, for now, what one could call ‘the kingdom of esports’.

Moreover, even in the country, 2018 means from now on the end of an era. The best LoL team of all times, SK Telecom T1, and their superstar Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok, nicknamed ‘The Unkillable Demon-King’, and often considered to be the best player in LoL history, will not be part of it! Last year, already, Faker and his teammates failed to conquer a fourth World title, heavily losing to another Korean team, Samsung Galaxy; which was a huge upset. So, this year, will Gen.G (the new name of Samsung Galaxy) prove themselves worthy of the title again, or will a new king take the crown?

And finally, because a lot of exterior elements tend to gravitate around the competition. The best example lies in the now traditional ‘official song’ of the World Championship. This trend started back in 2014; a song named ‘Warriors‘, released by the popular band Imagine Dragons, was to be used as a ‘hymn’ of the sort for the tournament. Since, Riot Games made a habit of creating those theme songs, often with powerful and epic lyrics about believing in yourself and rising to the top. In this category lies the 2015 theme song, ‘Worlds Collide‘, written by the League of Legends music team and sang by Nicki Taylor, and ‘Legends Never Die‘, 2017’s hymn, interpreted by Against The Current. In 2016, they tried something different by repeating a collaboration with a more ‘mainstream’ artist, Zedd, who with ‘Ignite‘ produced a more electro kind of theme, instead of the rock-ish ones we got before. This year’s ‘Rise’ does surprisingly fall into both categories, as it includes a teaming-up between The Glitch Mob, Mako (both more electro-oriented), and The World Alive (more rock-oriented). But it will still get you in the guts, both with its lyrics and its clip’s stunning animation (see above).

All in all, whether you’re a veteran player, a casual player, or if you just want to get a grip of what esports is, you should probably keep an eye on the upcoming League of Legends World Championship. Because, whether esports can be called sports or not, they share a lot with their older brothers. Teamwork, motivation, cheering stadiums, thousands of followers… why not you?

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