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League of Legends Season 2 Championship
October 15, 2012 5:51 AM   Subscribe

With 32 million active players per month, League of Legends, the world's most played video game, just finished it's second World Championship with teams from the US, Russia, Korea, Taiwan and Europe competing for a $2 million dollar prize pool. The tournament was filled with stadium sized crowds, nonstop action, major upsets, even controversy.

Congrats to the new champions!
posted by roaring beast (44 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is excellent context for a recent (context-less) post I made.
posted by carsonb at 6:19 AM on October 15, 2012


I love that the controversy is "some players turned their heads to the side!"

If it was that big a deal, why not set up the playing arena so that competitors couldn't see one anothers' screens?
posted by xingcat at 6:24 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


They did later. I think cheating is probably rampant in esports, tbh, especially online tournaments where stuff like maphacks and stream watching is possible.
posted by empath at 6:27 AM on October 15, 2012


Meanwhile, since League of Legends also boasts one of the worst overall gaming communities on the 'net, developer Riot Games has take the step of hiring scientists from the fields of cognitive neuroscience, human factors psychology, and statistics to try to reduce the toxicity.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:30 AM on October 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


Videos in the World Championship link.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 6:34 AM on October 15, 2012


I think the surrender mechanic is a big part of the reason that people get shitty in game. It's tremendously frustrating to be forced to keep playing a game after you've clearly lost it, and it's especially frustrating when the people who are refusing to surrender are the ones that caused you to lose in the first place.
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doktor Zed: Yeah, you ain't kidding. I once made a post asking that perhaps folks cut back on using the r-word to describe winning in a videogame. 10 pages of flaming later, and I learned never ever to go to the forums of a videogame community (except MeFightClub!)
posted by lazaruslong at 6:56 AM on October 15, 2012


Wow, as someone who knows nothing outside of DDR and Katamari Damacy in terms of video games, I must say this game looks HECKUV cool.
posted by Mooseli at 6:57 AM on October 15, 2012


I don't know much about LoL other than hearing about it on podcasts, but my main impressions have been: it's popular as all fuck, and its players are worse than XBL foulmouths.

I once made a post asking that perhaps folks cut back on using the r-word to describe winning in a videogame. 10 pages of flaming later, and I learned never ever to go to the forums of a videogame community (except MeFightClub!)

I can't remember if it was on Gamers With Jobs podcast or somewhere else, but one of the guys mentioned getting all kinds of abuse in game from another player, and they tried to complain about it on the official boards, but then they realized that the abusive player was actual an official moderator.
posted by kmz at 7:06 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love Dark Souls, in part because there is no in-game chat or vox.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:18 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just to add on, LoL really is a FANTASTIC game. I've logged about 3,000 games so far, varying in length from 15mins - 1hour. That's a lot of hours, now that I think about it. But yeah, really fantastic game, just be prepared to mute everyone and never interact with the community because damn is it bad.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:21 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is an amazingly fun game. If you're playing in the pub queue, just go ahead and /ignore all right of the bat. Or, come over to MeFightClub and pick up some people to play with who will not talk to you like human garbage.

Especially if you play Dominion, hit me up! "detarame" and "detarametoo"
posted by absalom at 7:39 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't do multiplayer with strangers very often but I used to play Mario Kart DS with randoms all the time. Mario Kart didn't have any way to chat with strangers, so I could just go in and race, probably would lose, and then quit without having to deal with the wit and wisdom of the 13 year olds.

If chat can be disabled or is disabled by default in LoL, maybe I'll finally give it a try.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:51 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately LoL's game type seems to attract the worst people. LoL is based on a (fan created) game called DOTA that grew popular on the Warcraft 3 custom games lobby... and the people who played it were fucking assholes. I don't know where the they came from - most other game types were civilized and had good cooperation etc., but something about DOTA just made people dreadful.
posted by Spacelegoman at 8:02 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, I used to love LoL, but since my friends were playing Heroes of Newerth, I switched over to that. It's crazy just how different two almost identical games can feel. I wasn't too shabby at LoL, but HoN just seems to move much faster, and the pattern recognition that I gained from LoL isn't even useful as all the skills are different etc.

I feel like the core skill of these games is the ability to just keep up with the graphics engine sometimes. Oh that green line does that, so I do this. I guess it's the same with most games but for whatever reason these come across more strongly as pattern based than others to me. Idk ymmv.
posted by Carillon at 8:04 AM on October 15, 2012


Is this like pokemon but with animated characters to deploy instead of cards?
posted by notyou at 8:09 AM on October 15, 2012


A friend tried to get me into the game a while back. I played for a week or so. Long enough to level my summoner all the way up. I decided it wasn't for me mainly because LoL wishes it was Netrek, but it's not.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:10 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


To a first approximation, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena is a genre of multiplayer combat game where players in teams each control one character, the character levels-up during play, and the players must choose between many options for character advancement. The objective is usually to destroy the opposing team's base, which has a number of automated defenses that you will most likely need to destroy first. Said defenses are arranged in a manner much like a tower defense game--so there are only a few ways into the enemy's base, each of which is defended by non-player defenders in addition to the players. The maps tend to be rather simple.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:29 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


notyou: "Is this like pokemon but with animated characters to deploy instead of cards?"

Sort of, but if you want a hat for your Raichu, it's $5.
posted by boo_radley at 8:39 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Same as in Pallet Town.
posted by boo_radley at 8:42 AM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


The game is a lot of fun, but the community sucks.

My old summoner name was clearly Hispanic. I got a lot of racism directed at me, from teammates and opponents alike. I would get blamed for loses and accused of trolling even when I had one of the best kill/death/assist ratios. I got reported for trolling and got a temp ban for chatting in French and Spanish with teammates who did not understand English.

A couple of weeks ago I created a smurf to try some experimental item builds. My new summoner name is one of the 5 most popular names for American males in their teens, and one of the 20 most common American surnames.

How the attitudes have changed. Now I get one or two honor points per game, and when I get cool kills I get many "well played" and "good job". I don't miss the "fucking spic hack" and "hue hue hue" I used to get.

It will be interesting to see what Riot does about the community. Right now they are the youtube comments of online gaming communities.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 9:23 AM on October 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Rock Paper Shotgun's Cara Ellison on League of Legends. Apparently, the community is better than that of Legends of Newerth, but that's a bit like saying that $experience is better than having a gorilla spit in your mouth. Accurate, but unhelpful.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:33 AM on October 15, 2012


It really depends on the gorilla's personal hygiene.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:49 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


How the attitudes have changed. Now I get one or two honor points per game, and when I get cool kills I get many "well played" and "good job". I don't miss the "fucking spic hack" and "hue hue hue" I used to get.

But why would you want to keep playing a game that enables such a racist and sexist community?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:51 AM on October 15, 2012


Because the game is a lot of fun, and Riot seems to be trying to do something about it.

Remember when Mefi used to have a higher tolerance for casual sexism? It got better, and I am glad I did not go away.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 10:00 AM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised that no one has mentioned DotA2 — it's will be available for free soon (and is in 'beta' now, but you can buy it just as a normal game), and is pretty much a direct port of the original game that started the genre into a better engine.

Valve also put on the International 2 with none of the issues that the LoL World Championships had, in what many described as the single most professional esports event thus far. Valve has also put a lot of effort into the ability to reconnect to and resume games, which seems to be a fairly useful ability that no one else has implemented.

Personally, I find DotA 2 deeper than LoL mechanically (the ability to deny creeps, for example, as well as TPs being a commodity instead of a default action), and more interesting. It's said that the abilities that DotA heroes have are often as powerful as the ultimates of the LoL champions, which may or may not be true but generally makes the game more fun to watch and play.

A pretty good moment capturing the essence of DotA 2 (as well as the production value of the International 2) is this video, known as 'The Play'.

And the slowed down version, here, which is pretty gorgeous and showcases a lot of the engine.
posted by Han Tzu at 11:20 AM on October 15, 2012


A pretty good moment capturing the essence of DotA 2 (as well as the production value of the International 2) is this video, known as 'The Play '.

The bit where Dendi gets up and roars at the other team in a display of dominance is pretty indicative of community attitudes in general but unusual to see at a professional event. Mostly people are a little better-mannered and less enthusiastic than that.

For the people who don't exactly understand what's going on in the clip, iG (Invictus Gaming, the team sporting the red health bars and played by the Asian fellows in the lower right) sneaks up on Na'Vi (Natus Vincere, the team with the green health bars played by the Ukrainian lads in the lower left), catching them from behind with Naga Siren's ultimate, a song that disables all enemy heroes while rendering them immune to damage. iG's Dark Seer then uses his Vacuum skill to gather Na'Vi together where iG's Tidehunter and Lina will be able to drop a pair of damaging area stuns, which should allow iG to kill Na'Vi quite easily. The Naga Siren turns off her song and her team drops the stuns, but in the split second between the song ending and the stuns landing, Na'Vi's Rubick, Enigma, and Juggernaut all execute different strategies for avoiding the stuns and damage and then manage to turn the encounter around, collapsing iG's ambush back on them and wiping them out completely without taking any losses.

Part of the impact of the play was that it came at a pivotal moment in the game, when iG needed to win a teamfight and break Na'Vi's push to stay alive and it really looked like they'd found their opportunity. iG's failure to capitalize on what should have been such an advantageous position (with such an advantageous team composition!) seemed to shake them, and their coordination and execution suffered tremendously for the rest of the match. They were unable to fight competently or defend their base at all, and Na'Vi's unceasing aggression brought the game to a decisive close just a few minutes later followed by a commanding victory in game 3.

iG seemed to learn from their defeat, however, and went on to crush Na'Vi's hopes in a series of heartbreaking games in the grand finals, including one of the most one-sided victories of the entire tournament.
posted by IAmUnaware at 12:19 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


notyou: "Is this like pokemon but with animated characters to deploy instead of cards?"

To add to LogicalDash's description:

The game has two teams. Each team has five players that start in their base on opposite sides of a mirrored map. The objective is to destroy the other team's base before they destroy yours.

Players pick from an enormous roster of characters, each with a different set of abilities. They broadly break down into various roles, though: support, tank/initator, pusher, ganker, jungler, and carry.

The map has three lanes that players can fight for control over. In the middle of the map is the jungle, where there are no defenses and neutral NPCs that either team can hunt for experience and power-ups. When the match starts. Both bases spawn identical waves of creeps that go down the three lanes towards the other base and attack their players/defenses.

Players gain experience and money for killing the other team's creeps or players. They use the experience to level up and unlock/upgrade a handful of abilities, and money to buy equipment back in their own base.

The game basically plays as a war of attrition, and there is quite a lot of strategy involved in team composition, how and when to push a lane, keeping tabs on the other team, and adapting to a rapidly-changing set of conditions (e.g. your mid-lane solo pusher just went down and the lane's undefended; two enemies are unaccounted for on the minimap. Do you risk leaving your top partner alone to go defend mid while your teammate respawns?).

To steal a phrase from an extremely low-brow Cracked article I just can't stop laughing at, your average pick-up group in LoL has all the military precision of drunken toddlers in a dryer. Because the game is about attrition, you win or lose slowly. Even when it's apparent you're losing, a typical match can run 25 minutes, and hitting 45 minutes to an hour isn't that rare. One bad teammate "feeding" the other team, intentionally or not, can make you lose.

So, take a game that's about teamwork, cooperation and strategy, and populate it primarily with anonymous people on the Internet, and an average pick-up match rapidly devolves into a foul-mouthed, blame-slinging cavalcade of racism and hostility as your team of five solo carries suffers a 45-minute slow-motion loss to another similarly-constructed team that just happens to have two people who are actually working together.

That's LoL in a nutshell. Great game, but how do you make something like that friendly to pickup groups? Well, that's why Riot's hiring these scientists.
posted by Vox Nihili at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks, but no - this certainly isn't the game for me. But hey, have fun with whatever it is you're doing. Just don't hurt anyone else.
posted by pyrex at 1:06 PM on October 15, 2012


The flaw with DotA 2 is the same flaw I see with StarCraft II. It's just not that fun to play. It's incredibly frustrating, and games snowball to winners very quickly on early-game decisions, it's a very brutal game. It may make competition more exciting with a higher skillcap, but you can have high skillcap games that are also fun at low-skill levels. DotA 2 and StarCraft II forgot to focus on the "fun" aspect, losing because you made one wrong decision early isn't fun to play.

What DotA 2 does well, though, is their mechanism against acting like a jerkwad. If you're too big of a jerk on DotA 2, you'll get shitlisted and can only play with other players who are shitlisted.
posted by amuseDetachment at 1:59 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dota 2 is one of the very best games I've ever played, but it didn't get really get fun until I had logged about 300 hours playing it. It has a truly daunting learning curve, and I say that as a fairly hardcore gamer.
posted by kprincehouse at 2:17 PM on October 15, 2012


The bigger story/scandal than the teams cheating, in my opinion, is that multiple games in one series had to be restarted because of "internet problems" that essentially caused the game to crash. One team had their early lead in a match-point situation erased. Later, the other team was seconds away from winning the match when the game crashed.

The deciding game of that match, and the entirety of several other matches, had to be postponed until later in the week.

In the weeks leading up to the tournament, a hacker released a tool called "LoLdrop" that could cause the servers to abort a game. This exploit was addressed via either a patch or hotfix.

The official statement is that internal and external network problems were responsible and that the match was not DDOS'ed or interfered with. I don't believe it -- I suspect that the tournament was haxx0red. Regardless of the cause, between the remakes and the (confirmed and punished!) cheating, the integrity of the tournament has been marred.

On the brighter side, the grand finals themselves seemed to go off without a hitch and produced an entertaining and satisfying series of games.
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 2:34 PM on October 15, 2012


So, take a game that's about teamwork, cooperation and strategy, and populate it primarily with anonymous people on the Internet, and an average pick-up match rapidly devolves into a foul-mouthed, blame-slinging cavalcade of racism and hostility as your team of five solo carries suffers a 45-minute slow-motion loss to another similarly-constructed team that just happens to have two people who are actually working together.

This is a big problem I've found with games like this, and it's why I pretty much don't play them. I picked up some space combat game on Steam during the summer sale for a few bucks, forget the name of it offhand. It plays a lot like LoL with a half dozen ships controlled by players on each side, creeps sent out, and you attack each others' base etc.

What I didn't realize when I bought it was that there was no single player component at all. So the only way to gain any sort of experience and skill with the game was to play it online with other people. I played about a half dozen matches, trying different things out and trying to learn until I got into one game where I'd obviously made a couple of errors and the Xbox Live torrent of 11 year old verbal diarrhea started up from my own team complaining about everything from my lack of skill with ship handling to the question of my parentage. Then one of them tells me to "just leave as I'm more of an obstacle than anything else and each time I die, I'm helping the other side through XP gain". Well that just pushed my button like nothing else, sorry to say. I instead laid a few choice F-bomb laden replies on the team channel and then proceeded to sail my ship directly into enemy fire repeatedly without counterattacking until the other side built up an unassailable advantage and then I dropped and uninstalled the game.

Waste of time. And considering this particular game only seemed to have a few hundred players active on it during the height of the Steam sale I figured their community could use all the players it could get. Guess I was wrong.
posted by barc0001 at 3:37 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I learned never ever to go to the forums of a videogame community (except MeFightClub!)

We have an active group of folks playing and discussing this game over there, of course, if anyone's keen to talk about it but steer clear of the unpleasant children out there in gamerland. Me, I am a little bewildered by this genre of games, and haven't ever really tried, except the DOTA 2 beta, where I literally had no idea what to do, and uninstalled after about 30 minutes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:52 PM on October 15, 2012


Yeah, for some reason this kind of game is tremendously unappealing to me. It seems like the kind of game where the designers went for "more," when what I look for most right now is "other." Something that no one's done before.
posted by JHarris at 4:14 PM on October 15, 2012


StarCraft II forgot to focus on the "fun" aspect, losing because you made one wrong decision early isn't fun to play.

Well, two things about sc2-- one, you're matched up with players of even skill, and two, if you fuck up the early game and start losing, there is no reason to hang in until the end, just gg and start a new game (which will be against a worse player, most likely).

I didn't really find that sc2 started becoming 'not fun' until I got up into high platinum, when the players were good enough to reliably punish small mistakes and knowledge of the metagame became essential-- if you weren't playing a small number of heavily refined builds and don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of openings and the ability to figure out which one your opponent is using from limited scouting information, you just lose. At that point, winning at starcraft becomes more of a job than a hobby.
posted by empath at 4:27 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like the kind of game where the designers went for "more," when what I look for most right now is "other."

You're right, I think, and the whole 'more!' impulse is something that's happening across the board, in a whole bunch of different game genres, lately.

I don't know if it's just because I'm getting old, but 'more!' isn't something that appeals to me, in general. I'm still drawn to games that are simple on the surface, easy to pick up, but have gameplay and mechanics that are well-thought-out enough that there is much to be gained from exploring the depths and getting more skilled at them. Both TF2 and Minecraft, games I have loved in recent years, and arguably the two most popular MFC games, have gone this kitchen-sink route, and for me at least, the complexity of them now is daunting.

This is the reason I loved playing Rocket Arena 3, the venerable Quake 3 mod, for the year or two we had a MefightClub server for it. Hard to get more simple -- the mod was stripped down to the most basic of basics -- but even though it was an incredibly fast-paced twitch deathmatch game at times, getting into the groove of it with some similarly-skilled opponents was almost a contemplative experience. A modern (single-player) game that approached that purity for me in recent years might be Mirror's Edge, which was flawed, but pretty great.

I expect for skilled players of the more whizzbangy games of today, the experience is much the same -- I just don't have time or spare brainpower to learn them well enough to get to that point.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. Actually waiting for a match to load right now. Gonna jungle Udyr for a bit tonight, I think.

Timing.
posted by Imperfect at 5:08 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The general attitude of serious gamers is that League of Legends is the "Farmville" of online MOBA games - it's free to play and attracts a massive number of users, has simple, addictive gameplay, relies on a core 1% of users to fund operations - these users spend thousands of USD on ingame items - and has gameplay elements are universally reviled by serious gamers as uncompetitive.

It's the same extractive M.O. that Zynga uses - tell users, hey if you want this hero or this rune to achieve this functionality... you could grind for 40 hours of gameplay over a few weeks... or you could pay us USD30 for it to shortcut the process.

---

Also, the number of player registrations on LoL is almost certainly overinflated to a large degree. Riot has this scheme where if you invite 10 players to LoL and get them to level 5, you get a reward of RP (in game currency that you can normally only purchase with USD).

It is trivial for players to create 10 fake accounts, invite them with their main account, and play them up to level 5 to gain the RP for their main account, so effectively that is 1 player with 11 accounts.

---

That's no denying that League of Legends is popular (so is Farmville) and has somewhat decent gameplay mechanics. The MOBA scene is split between a smaller pool of skilled players who like what DOTA2 has to offer, and a larger pool of casual players who like what LOL has to offer, and it's a good thing that the market gets segmented this way, as both sets of players can get what they're after.

I just wish Riot didn't have to stoop to such shady and exploitative business practices. In contrast, Valve's business model for funding DOTA2 seems almost angelic in comparison - by default you have access to the full set of characters and abilities, so from the first game you play you're on par with someone who's spent years on the game (whereas in LoL it will take you years of grinding to get full unlocks, or spending some serious cash). You're never compelled to spend any money to get more powerful. So where does money come from for funding DOTA2? There's a workshop, where anyone can create in-game cosmetic items that modify the look of your characters, and players sell them via the in-game shop, splitting the revenues 50/50 with Valve. So say I create a cool looking bow for an archer hero, it goes on the shop for $1, every time someone buys it, I get $0.50 and Valve gets $0.50. Valve has reported that some designers are earning over 100k USD per year from item sales across various games.
posted by xdvesper at 5:11 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


and don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of openings and the ability to figure out which one your opponent is using

Which also sounds like why I stopped having fun playing chess.
posted by flaterik at 5:11 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's an interesting alternative take, xdvesper... Though one I can't really agree with. Here's the flip side:

Riot offers a free game that is appealing as heck to a lot of people. But in order to keep the lights on, they have to sell something. And since you specifically mention Farmville, let's talk about what they don't sell.

They don't sell any form of energy - you can play all day if you choose. They don't expire any of your champions and then charge you money to recover them - any champions you unlock stay yours forever. They don't lock you to level 10 until you've invited 5 friends or paid cash money - you can level up to max without restriction. No heroes are restricted to paying players, no masteries or summoner spells are restricted to paying players, and no runes are restricted to paying players. Heck, you can't even buy runes with money - you have to play to get them. (Though in all fairness, you can pay money for a short-term boost to the in-game currency you earn to buy runes, though it ends up being pretty small potatoes and is generally seen as not worth it.) The only thing restricted to paying players is the cosmetic skins they release as periodic updates to popular heroes.

The most important thing that Riot sells - in my opinion, anyway - is fun. It was never fun in Farmville to recover a wilted crop. But it is fun to play a new champion, see what their kit is, try it out in new situations. And honestly, I don't mind paying for new fun to a game I already enjoy. In fact, I judge games and game companies primarily by that metric: Am I paying to have fun, or just to stave off the tedium or stress caused by this same game?

Riot wins there in spades. Farmville fails incredibly. It's honestly hard for me to imagine one could ever compare those two games, only contrast.

EDIT: Oh, also, in the NBC article, they mentioned that LoL has 12 million daily active players and 32 million active monthly players. It's highly unlikely that 9/10 of those are the abandoned level 5 smurf accounts you mentioned. A lot of people play this game.
posted by Imperfect at 5:54 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The exponential difference in skill is what I like about both chess and Starcraft II. To be interested in the timesink of League of Legends, it would have to offer the same challenge, but from the video I'm not sure that you get that much fine control. Although I can't decipher the gameplay.
posted by saber_taylor at 10:25 PM on October 15, 2012


saber_taylor, there is definitely a reasonably large skill differential in League of Legends, but the most important skills (and the ones with the largest delta between "bad players" and "good players", in my experience) are all team-based. Your individual performance does matter, especially in the early game, but it's your coordination with teammates and ability to rely on each other that really determines the winner.

As in any team sport, it's teams that are truly great at MOBAs, not players. To see the same degree of improvement in LoL that you would see from practice and research in chess or Starcraft, you really need to be playing with a set group of teammates. I suspect you wouldn't enjoy the game playing solo.
posted by IAmUnaware at 11:33 PM on October 15, 2012


What I didn't realize when I bought it was that there was no single player component at all.

Hate that. For the most part I don't want my gaming experience to be dependent on the kindness of strangers, as they might turn out to be asshats, or you have to invest too much time/effort to play nice etc. There's an exception though:

I loved playing Rocket Arena 3

Proper aim your gun at their gonads FPS games, where you can quickly drop into a deadmatch and drop out again, are perfect to play online. A quick game of openarena really soothes the nerves.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:34 AM on October 16, 2012


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