Jeff Kim and Jeroen Vercauter take a look at this weekend's League of Legends tournament. Did MLG do a good job at their first ever League of Legends arena?
This review is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates.
Pictures used without permission, shamelessly stolen from the Twitter of Rod Breslau as well as MOBAFire's website.
Surprisingly, this event wasn't as hyped as most LoL tournaments, peaking around 75,000 on the Own3D stream during Sunday. Despite lackluster numbers compared to the 150,000+ we've seen at other tournaments throughout the latter half of 2011/early half of 2012, the production value at this event was exceptional, on par with the Starcraft 2 arena events that have set the NA standard for both quality of games and production alike.
A great addition this weekend to the tournament was the replay analysis, much like we saw in the Summer Arena for Starcraft 2 just a few weeks back; we saw the casters after every few games go to the smartboard and review the game. Being an old school FPS/racing game player that has recently jumped into the RTS scene, MOBA games is all alien to me -- this experience by visually seeing what they're talking about in slo-mo helped a ton, resonating throughout the next few games as I watched with more and more understanding each game.
Curse.NA started strong, but fell off later in the weekend.
The production value was nothing short of MLG, but nothing on the scale of the Korean tournaments at all, a hurdle that we've yet to 1UP in the NA e-sports scene; we've seen attempts that have come close, but no cigar just yet. Compared to the Brood War OSL tournament that went down just a day ago (or two depending on your time zone), this event is sub-par, and that's just fact not opinion. Although the setting was very clean and original, the blue and red lights are getting a bit boring, along with the wooden desks MLG use arena after arena. Sure, it's an office in the heart of NYC, but some booths like IPL had or a relocation to a larger setting with a more open enviroment would benefit them more than not.
The casters were very insightful, despite leaning towards using more advanced terms at times, some of which I fell short of understanding, again not being extremely keen towards the LoL scene; champions are referred to by name, implying we should know all the names, which made it difficult for me to transcribe who was playing what champion in-game. On the other side of the fence, the event is aimed more towards competitive players; an appeal to all casual players isn't explicitly present from MLG, but it's worked out for them. Also was nice to see qu1ksh0t casting, South Africa's CoD4 star that retired from FPS after his AEF performance in '11.
Sophie translating for Kang "Ambition" Chanyong, AP for Azubu Blaze.
We saw Rod's lady friend Sophie translate this weekend, doing a remarkable job allowing the viewers to hear the thoughts and reactions of Team Azubu Blaze, one of the largest hypes in the current scene, regarded as a top tier competitor on a global scale after dominating their brother Azubu Frost at the OGN finals earlier this year. More interviews would have been nice with all players, seeing as the break between games sometimes lasted upwards of 45 minutes, the longest I experienced being several minutes shy of an hour. If MLG wants to connect with its viewers more, interviews are vital; less caster jabber, more connection with the players and competitors.
The games were intense; a few amazing players were made throughout the weekend, especially from Azubu Blaze, a team noted for their peculiar lane swaps that are somewhat uncommon outside of Korea, as the casters explained, as NA and EU tend to be aggressive in their respective positions, only swapping when absolutely necessary. As TSM took the win over BLACK in Game 1 of the Round Robin match during Sunday's championship play, they secured a spot against the monster of Korea, Azubu Blaze. This not only means that the Koreans have secured a spot in the grand final of a major foreign tournament, but that their reign of domination may very well seep from Starcraft 2 into LoL and other MOBA/ARTS games.
Jeroen's thoughts on the event:
The MLG Summer Arena, 4 teams playing against each other over 3 days. It looked like MLG Providence all over again but MLG pulled it off. The production was spot on and the casting with Quickshot and Deman was of a very good quality. The interviewers looked a bit to mesmerized with the questions for me but it wasn't too bad. The matches went better than expected. Especially Curse surprised me in their series versus the Koreans, that game 2 showed everyone the potential Curse has and if they keep on going they'll be a big contender for a spot on the season 2 championships.
The Koreans themselves looked amazing throughout, their coordination is second to none. For me they're looking like the favorite for the gold at The Championship Finals in Los Angeles, which are only 2 months away. TSM looked good but they didn't have the little details down as Azubu did, something they'll definitely have to work on in the coming weeks and months. All in all a pretty successful event.
The tournament as a whole just proves the point, whether one ignores or embraces it, that League of Legends is the largest and fastest growing e-sports in the world without a doubt; it's got the support, the gamers that play admire each and every tournament, and the professional players constantly interact with their followers. Regarding ratio, the e-sports fans are quite small, but the sheer girth of the game's outreach trumps any other e-sports game out right now -- hard words to say coming out from a die-hard Starcraft fan.
In the Grand Finals for the tournament, we saw the California boys of Team SoloMid take on the dominant Koreans of Team Azubu Blaze, all the rage since their clean 2-0 of what is regarded as the
premier NA LoL team. A scary thought that Koreans could soon be dominating both Starcraft 2 and League of Legends, the two largest e-sports in the world. We saw superior tactics that confused TSM, such as lane-swapping, delaye ults and extremely early invades that changed the course of the game, resulting in victory for what was formerly known as MiG Blaze. The games were somewhat one-sided, but plays were made and support was given throughout from fans around the world through Twitter, trending for nearly 2 hours globally. The Surrender from TSM was a nice cherry on top.
The complete Azubu Blaze roster.
As said with the initial MLG Arena event hosted for Starcraft 2, this tournament was very well put together but we need to see some upping of ideas for next event -- more interaction, more interviews, more analysis, refine the small details. Without pushing forward, we only go backward. An entertaining weekend and well played for a first LoL arena event, but let's hope no more stream crashes happen during the Grand Finals of future tournaments. Expect more coverage of League of Legends in the future from Cadred. The blackout during Game 2 of the Grand Finals was not included; it was an uncontrollable error caused by the weather, and half of NYC blacked out, so it will not count against the review's score.
MLG League of Legends Summer Arena: 90/100
-layout for tri-lane viewing
-casters and translator(s)
-chemistry between competitors
-use of time between matches
-no player cams
interview questions were bland
-lack of more top tier teams