League of Legends' World Championship series — featuring the absurdly popular MOBA's best players — is about to kick off. Major matches will be held all around, you know, the world, culminating in what will easily be one of the biggest eSports events ever. Still don't care? Then watch this video.
Truth be told, I'm not as up on the LoL pro scene as I could be, but this mini-documentary — the first part of three — definitely got me interested. Yes, sports are about spark-slinging clashes between the sharpest bodies and minds in their respective fields, but behind-the-scenes stories are what make this stuff fun to follow.
Getting to know players, learning to love or loathe them, cheering their successes and punching pillows like you mean it to their failures — that's my favourite thing about sports, virtual or not. The competition itself is just all of those hopes, dreams, and tensions focused into a laser-like point, a nuclear powder keg.
These things can be kind of impenetrable to newcomers. I'm glad documentaries like this exist, if only to give people a quick, more universally understandable point of entry to a much larger scene. Granted, the company behind this documentary — League of Legends creator Riot — is also the one that makes the game and the eSports league, so there's a risk of the sport's lower points/controversies getting glazed over.
For now, though, this first episode is a good primer. I hope the rest of the series maintains a similar level of quality.
If you want to dig deeper, you can check out the draw for phase one of the World Championships, which was just announced today. 16 teams have emerged as the cream of the crop — the legendariest of leaguing legends, as it were — and they have been sorted into tournament seeds. It's all looking pretty competitive, which is good given that last year's LCS final was, er, surprisingly not.
This year the whole thing will culminate in a showdown in Seoul, Korea, where one team will take home $US1 million. That is significantly more than I've ever made off a competitive match in a video game (a whole handful of quarters from a Soul Calibur arcade match in middle school, in case you were wondering).
You can follow along with matches leading up to that here.