League of Legends is running its season one championship, viewable here. At one point the stream reached 210k viewers, which sounds like a damn good amount of people. Riot was showing off its new spectator mode, and I must say it looked very clean and gave a lot of great info.
In Inquisition’s vent we had a few of us just sitting around matching some matches, and the whole thing was a pretty fun “group activity”. During one match the commentator said to call up some buddies, order some pizza, and enjoy competitive LoL. I think he was trying to be funny, but the suggestion is not exactly crazy. In a way, being in vent and watching is like a future version of having people over to watch a sports game. Or close anyway.
I have no doubt that there is a serious future in such gaming/viewing. So long as you understand the game being played at a basic level, you can follow along and enjoy, and a game like LoL is almost as fun to watch as it is to play, given the right conditions.
The conditions, however, are not there yet. The stream needs to be in high-quality HD, needs to be smooth, and can’t pause, artifact, or run at different delays for different people. The delay made watching with others tough, as someone would mention a great ult, and 10 seconds later I would see it on my screen. Once the quality/timing is a reality, the overall enjoyment will really go up.
Imperfect as it still might be however, it is a fun view into the future, and the matches I’ve seen have all been intense and interesting, showing off just how balanced and viable so many of the champions really are, and just how important the player is behind the champion (teams would ban specific champions against specific teams, even though those champions might not normally be considered ‘ban worthy’).
I kinda enjoyed watching a few matches. Strangely enough, cause I am not all that big of a LoL fan and not even lvl30 myself. The stream itself imho sucked -constant ads and no HD options
But to a larger audience?- I think no one would really understand what was going on screen without having quite a bit of familiarity with dota games.Rules are all highly convoluted and artificial ( why people “are out of position”, what the hell is “gold count”, why people “run from fights”. What the hell are “wards” ,etc etc). While its easier to watch than WoW arena match its not really anywhere close to being spectator sport
p.s. hmm somehow I think you do not mean videos. Are there actual in game client or something?
Nope the videos from the site. We were watching it ‘live’ on Saturday/Sunday.
Also I agree that anyone who is not a LoL player won’t get much out of it, but considering how big LoL is right now, that’s still a LOT of people.
I don’t agree with this assessment that it’s “too complicated” at all. Every game, physical or virtual, is incredibly convoluted and ridiculous, and if anyone just watched it right away without commentary they wouldn’t have a fucking clue what was going on.
And this is where the commentators come in; a lot of people tend to assume they’re fairly unimportant, just background noise. That’s the case. The LoL guys I’m watching right now are great – if you understand it. If you don’t, they’re still quite interesting but a lot of it is just gibberish.
In fact, they remind me a lot of American Football commentators I’ve seen in Sky Sports. They assume the audience knows everything. They delve into facts and figures and provide great commentary if you know what the hell’s going on, but for a clueless Brit like me I’m just wondering why the fuck the guys playing handegg keep not getting a touchdown.
The antithesis of this is football (soccer) commentators. They just say what’s going on, don’t explain it, and are very boring to listen to.
Now, there’s a particular set of commentators in a particular sport who are fantastic: the BBC’s F1 team. It’s made up of former drivers, former team owners and one career presenter, and they strike a fantastic balance. I started watching F1 when it switched over to the BBC without knowing anything about it; now I’d consider myself fairly knowledgeable, all because the commentators explain things to every audience. They say what’s happened and analyse it for a higher level audience, but also explain the basics as to why it happened for new people. They don’t alienate new people with their lingo, but they don’t make it boring for other people.
Other sports commentators could learn form them. If these LoL commentators stopped to explain what things meant quickly it’d be fantastic. Atm it’s more like trying to pick up odds and ends here and there.
That’s a great point, and I’m feeling a bit dumb for not making the connection: fans of ‘normal’ sports sometimes learn the game from watching, not always from playing. No reason this can’t be possible for an eSport like LoL.
As for commentators, the best example I can think of here in the US are the UFC announcers. They know the sports is rapidly growing, and so there must be a lot of new fans. Plus MMA is not exactly something people grow up with, so they really get into the strategy and the details of what’s going on. Watch a few PPVs, and you start to learn about the sport and really ‘get it’, which makes watching it a lot more fun as well.
Again, it’s something eSports could really learn from if they intend to hit that next level of popularity.
“learn the game from watching”
I didn’t think of that, but that reminds me of another thing: in the downtime between matches they didn’t show gameplay footage and analyse what was going on in the game (or they didn’t in the two matches I watched, which were incidentally the last two matches.) They were just looking at a spreadsheet that the viewers couldn’t see and pointing out things that interested them but were of, frankly, very niche even in LoL.
A bit of pausing the game at key points, slowing it down and showing us just exactly what happened and why it did would have done wonders in terms of appreciating just how advanced their level of play is. From where I was sitting, most of it happened way too fast in the game that it just looked like a clusterfuck, and it was never expanded upon.
It’s a good start. But I agree with you that e-sports as an industry needs to learn, quickly, from the real world. It has the luxury of being able to avoid their mistakes but capitalise on their good ideas as it grows, but at the moment they don’t seem to be doing that very much.
Replays and such, ala TV, are tech hurdles that need to be overcome. I mean hell, LoL as of today, does not even HAVE a replay function to watch older matches, let alone letting you pause or quickly rewind.
Was this from Dreamhack in Sweden? I’ve just been watching the Starcraft 2 from there which was pretty excellent. They had a pretty constant 100k+ viewers for that over the weekend, all weekend.
Yea Dreamhack. Interesting that LoL had close to double SC2 numbers in terms of viewers.
While I agree that it’s great that LoL is coming into its own as a viewable sport, it should be noted that that number has some caveats. For one, this event was essentially sanctioned by Riot, with front page advertising on the main League of Legends page. In addition, as far as I was aware, there were no other major LoL tournaments running concurrently, which was not the case for SC2. It also remains to be seen if LoL can maintain these numbers consistently. I have hopes that they do because this is an excellent start.
I should install vent on my Macbook (is that even possible?) because that’s where I watch all the LoL streams. I only turn on my gaming PC to game because it’s in the basement and stationary. I like being able to carry the laptop around and watch as I do other stuff around the house.
There were some pretty epic matches this weekend and I was really happy to see the difference in play style between the qualifiers and the S1 championship itself. Many of the qualifiers were single digit kill score snoozefests. The championships had much higher kill counts (averaging 1 every two minutes or so). The commentary and camerawork was especially good in comparison to past tournaments as well.
Vent has a Mac client.
Missed most of these matches but have watched matches in the past — pulling up the grand finale now.
Instant Replay would go a long ways to making these matches more accessible to people less familiar with the game. And light pens for drawing out the “X’s and O’s”