League of Legends World Championship: Team Intro for the Traditional Sports Fan
League of Legends… what the hell is that??? That is what most people thought when Draftkings announced they would be introducing contest for it’s upcoming Championships in October. This blog won’t exactly tell you what the game is, sorry to say, but what it will hopefully do is help you relate to some of the teams, if you happen to construct a roster, or god-forbid you tune in to some of the matches! I probably went to far with that last comment.
First of all, some brief information on League of Legends and it’s 2015 World Championships. The event is being held in Berlin, Germany at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. The tickets sold out in a matter of minutes, and this is the first world championship being held in Europe. The previous championships have either been held in Los Angeles, or in Seoul, Korea. The Championship starts October 1st, and all coverage can be seen on lolesports.com. League of Legends, quite simply, is a 5v5 game in which each player controls a “champion.” There are ~130 champions to chose from in the game, each with their own unique abilities. The objective of the game is to destroy the other teams base, and the first to do so wins the game. That was kind of painful to write, as there is so much more that goes in to the game, but that is LoL in a nutshell.
I’ve been playing and viewing the game for over 3 years now, and have grown passionate about it, in the same way I am passionate about football, basketball, baseball, etc. League of Legends at it’s core is an extremely competitive game, that requires both strong in-game mechanics and mental fortitude. The ability to think quickly and make fast, smart decision is vital.
With that information aside, let’s get to the main piece of the article. I wanted a way to introduce this upcoming championship to the traditional sports fan, which I would bet is about 95% of people on this website. Instead of going in to great detail on the game, I thought I would briefly talk about five of the teams and compare them to a team that everyone is familiar with already. Let’s get started. I don’t plan to cover every team, but if the interest is there, I can do a part 2.
Counter Logic Gaming – CLG
Region: North America (NA)
Way of Qualification: Took 1st in the Summer Split playoffs, and qualified as NA’s #1 seed
Comparison: Chicago Cubs
Oh the lovable losers… Right when you think this team is going to make it happen, they find a way to break their fans hearts. Counter Logic Gaming is one of the oldest organizations in all of eSports, let alone League of Legends, so their fan base is also one of the largest. CLG always seems to have the talent to be a legitimate contender, but whether it be coaching, ownership, a lack of interest, they are never able to turn the corner. The only fans that have been let down more consistently than CLG fans, may be Chicago Cub fans. The money is there, the fans are there, the history is there, but yet nothing ever comes together… untill now? Could this be the year? This has to be the year! Oh god, it’s happening again.. CLG, carried by their all-world player “Doublelift,” is going in to this years championships with the hashtag #GoldenAge and #FaithAge. They truly believe this is the year they finally turn the corner, just like my fellow Cubbies fans do. If you are used to being disappointed, CLG may be the team for you, but this could be the year!
FNATIC – FNC
Region: Eurpe (EU)
Way of Qualification: Took 1st in the Summer Split playoffs, and qualified as EU’s #1 seed
Comparison: 2007 Boise State Football Broncos
FNATIC, also one of the oldest gaming organizations in all of eSports, absolutely crushed their competition during the regular season this year. They finished as the first team in League Championship Series (LCS) history to go undefeated. The question isn’t whether or not they are good, they can most certainly play the game of LoL at a high level. The question is, how strong was there competition? How will they fair against the other regions best teams? Similar to Boise State, they ran through the regular season with relative ease and the debate was on. Should Boise get a BCS game? We all know the answer here of course, and Boise did show up in a big way. Will FNC show up just as big? Rekkles, one of the best AD Carries in the world, is back with FNC after leaving for a split and has taken this team to another level. FNC is looked at as the best Western team, time will tell us just how strong they are! If you want to root for an underdog with a legit shot at contending, FNC is your team!
SK Telecom T1 – SKT
Region: Korea (KR)
Way of Qualification: Went 17-1 and easily won the LCK, going in as Koreas #1 seed
Comparison: New England Patriots
This isn’t just a dominant team, this is a dominant organization. The 2014 World Champions are back, and they show no signs of slowing down. Playing in the best region, worldwide, SKT dominated their competition, highlighted by the best player in the world, mid-laner Faker. You can fully expect Faker to be the most expensive player on Draftkings, assuming they do their research. Faker was recently featured in an edition of ESPN the magazine, there is a 5 page spread on his dominance. SKT is looking to become the games first dynasty, much like the Patriots in recent years. No team has ever won more than 1 World Championship, but SKT certainly looks to be the first.If you’re looking for the favorite to root for, or a team to stack, you can’t go wrong with SKT.
Team Solo Mid – TSM
Region: North America (NA)
Way of Qualification: Lost to CLG in the NA finals in a clean sweep 3-0 (Best of 5) to go in as NA’s #2 seed
Comparison: Dallas Cowboys
I really wanted a way to make the comparison work out so that TSM and CLG were rivals. The comparison may not signify that, but these two organizations have been competing against each other since the games release date, 6 years ago. When these two teams face off, the hype is real and in the eSports world it’s just as big as a Bears vs Packers, UNC vs Duke, Ali vs Frazier, etc.For this tournament however, that doesn’t matter to much because they both are going to have to make it out of their groups if they want to play each other. I think it is safe to say TSM has the largest fan base in League of Legends, world wide. They have an owner who is extremely involved with the team, some might argue too involved. TSM has been trending in the wrong direction, but they, along with CLG, have been bootcamping in Korea for the past couple weeks trying to improve as much as they can against the best in the world. TSM’s top laner, Dyrus, has been playing with TSM since season 1, and he announced this will be his last season as a pro. If TSM is going to make noise in this tournament, it’s going to have to be on the shoulders of mid-laner Bjergsen. If you want to “fit-in” the League of Legends crowd, just root for TSM.
Edward Gaming – EDG
Way of Qualification: Finished 2nd in their region, entering Worlds as Chinas #2 seed
Comparison: Green Bay Packers
An extremely aggressive team, who relies not necessarily on out-smarting you, but out fighting you and winning a team-fight when it counts most. Watching an EDG game is exciting, because you know there are going to be kills early and often. They are surgical the way they move around the map, the pressure they apply on the other team is extremely high. So high in fact, they beat Faker and SKT earlier at the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). MSI is essentially a mini-world championship in the middle of the season. I would compare this to the MLB All-star break, but on a little more serious level. The aggressiveness doesn’t’ always pay off however, as they did lose to their Chinese counterpart LGD in their regionals. Similar to the Packers, in that they will score points but will there defense hold up? It didn’t last year against Seattle, and for those reason the Packers comparison comes to mind. If you like fast-paced, high-octance action with a chance of losing a shoot-out, EGD is the team for you. Come to think of it, EDG will make for good GPP plays.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully the terms League of Legends and eSports didnt put you to sleep! If you have any questions about the upcoming championships, feel free to leave a comment or go to lolesports.com. If there is interest, I can run down another 5 or so teams in a part 2, and give you guys an idea of where these teams come from in a way you can easier understand.