eSports have taken off. At the end of last year, I asked MakeUseOf readers what they thought of eSports in the year 2013. “Is 2013 going to be the year for eSports?” So far, the answer to that questions seems to be a very confident nod. Games like Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and StarCraft II grow stronger every single day. Today, the strongest of eSports is definitely League of Legends.
Just in the past two weeks, we’ve learned of huge developments in the League of Legends eSports community. Professional League of Legends players are now being given visas, just like players from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. It’s a big move to recognize these players in that same type of field. We’ve also learned that the 2013 World Finals will be hosted at the Staples Center in LA, an arena where some of the world’s biggest events have been held.
If you’re not yet sold on League of Legends and eSports in general, let me help you. Here are three of my favorite professional League Championship Series matches that you can watch on YouTube.
If you are new to League, you should check out this article to get an understanding of the basic terms, as it will help you understand what is happening in these games.
Fnatic vs. SK Gaming (EU Spring W10D1)
European LCS casters refer to this matchup as “El Classico”, as these teams are two of the oldest and most recognized among the EU scene. Fnatic is the team to win League of Legend’s first ever world championship, and since then they’ve consistently played at a level to be respected by the entire League of Legends community. On the other side of the coin, SK Gaming has some of Europe’s most exciting and passionate players. They’re a group that has been together for a long time, but have seemed to always manage to underperform at the highest level. Though this is considered to be a bit of a rivalry in the scene, Fnatic has beaten SK Gaming nearly 20 consecutive times.
The history behind these two teams is reason enough to give it a watch. However, Fnatic pulls out a very exciting and interesting team composition that you won’t often see. Ezreal plays the middle lane, and the bottom lane is composed of Urgot and Blitzcrank. It’s extremely rare to see Urgot in high-level play, and Blitzcrank hooks are always fun to see.
The game includes tons of action, a level 1 Blitzcrank hook, and plenty of excitement through the mid-game with teetering teamfights.
Cloud9 vs. Team Vulcan (NA Summer W5D1)
The Season 3 Summer Split has hosted the emergence of a very strong new team in the NA LCS. Cloud9 came into this tournament as newcomers and now overlook the standings as the best team in the league. Cloud9 is known for emulating the play of popular Korean teams. Team Vulcan sat in the standings just below them, and they’ve got a lot to prove. Their AD Carry, Zuna, is one of the loudest and most vocal players in the competitive scene. He’s always fun to watch.
You won’t know what to expect out of this game. It starts as a blowout, then it goes the other way. Then another, and another. The early-game fights show these two teams as some of the most aggressive and confident in the entire game. Back and forth, this game teases you and has you extremely excited the entire way. It’s filled with multiple comeback runs and an ending that even the winning team can’t seem to believe.
Velocity eSports vs. Team MRN (NA Summer Promo)
These are two teams that most of us have never heard of until a month or two ago. Velocity eSports and Team MRN came into the promotional tournament with hype behind both teams. Velocity has a well-known Top player, Cris, as well as the brother of a TSM player on AD Carry. Team MRN is a League of Legends team that was founded by a player who used to play fighting games professionally, Marn.
This game exemplifies how thinking outside of the box and putting together an interesting and strategic team composition can put you in a game. The meta doesn’t exactly exist in competitive play. Velocity eSports comes out with a Janna outside of her Support role and an Ezreal at Jungle. The frenetic pace of this game holds strong throughout its entirety, and it’s something that these two casters and the entire NA audience have never witnessed before. But does Velocity manage to win the game? Watch and find out for yourself.
A few years ago, I could never imagine myself sitting in front of my monitor and watching a video game that we now treat as its own sport. I was an NBA guy for the longest time, and I’m not even ashamed to admit that I’m now more entertained in watching professional League of Legends and Dota 2 matches more than I am with basketball. You may have tried League of Legends and decided you’re not great at it. Maybe you didn’t like the community. Either way, this is a spectator sport. It’s extremely exciting to watch, and Riot Games has done an amazing job of putting together a professional and competitive atmosphere.
Let me know what you think of League of Legends as an eSport in the comments below. Have a favorite game of your own? Link me and let’s talk about it!