League of Legends All-Star Invitational Displays Regional Growth and Meta Game Parity

All-Stars 2014 highlights future for LOL and esports in general.
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This year’s League of Legends All-Star Invitational tournament, held in Paris, France, has been big, exciting, competitive, and surprisingly revealing. Despite their recent slump in their OGN spring campaign, SKT1 K was tabbed as the clear favorite heading into the tournament, and they have not disappointed.

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While they didn’t absolutely dominate opponents as we saw throughout their world championship run, they provided calculated and competitive games, highlighted by Faker’s first intentional skin usage when the team played their entire championship skin lineup.

The other teams have put forth their own exciting piece of the puzzle as well. Cloud 9, playing without team captain and mid laner Hai, shocked the world in going 3-1 during the group stages,  with a particularly impressive performance by defeating the team that some thought would take down SKT1 in China’s OMG, led by their own fantastic mid laner in Xiyang.

Fnatic rounded out the group stage with three gut-wrenching losses in which they had very competitive starts to each game, only to start their tournament 0-3, forcing a thrilling winner-takes-all showdown in the last match of group play versus the Taipei Assassins.

League of Legends Growing More Competitive

The entire All-Stars event put the growth of League of Legends as a whole on full display. It is clear, despite the aforementioned recent slump of SKT1, that other regions are beginning to prove that they can compete with South Korea. North America in particular, in compound with the whirlwind of changes during the offseason, has shown incredible promise for the future in recent weeks, and Cloud 9’s tournament here caps it off.

Different Regions Still Able to Employ Different Strategies

The games played over the last two days also show an exciting and encouraging trend for League and for esports in general: the different regions brought distinct, yet effective, meta games with them.

League of Legends as a whole cannot be defined by a few champions, a guide, or even an entire region’s playstyle. There are many different ways to approach the game, encouraging different playstyles and game mentality, even at the highest possible level of play.

OMG’s opening game versus Fnatic, in which they employed Nunu in the jungle, was a testament to how innovative and creative strategy has a place. The champion of Nunu has fallen off and basically been forgotten over the past half year or so in North America and Europe, but OMG surprised Fnatic with an absolutely dominant and textbook performance with the champion.

Later on, in desperate fashion Fnatic pulled out their signature composition of seasons past, sending xPeke onto his famous teleport Kassadin to pair with Soaz’s teleport equipped Shyvana. While it didn’t get them the victory (due to a classic Baron throw), it did provide one of the best, most exciting game we’ve seen since the world championships.

All in all, ever since last season’s fantastic display at the Staples Center hosted world championships, League of Legends has only seemed to get better and better. We can only imagine how amazing this year’s finals will be, held in the esport haven of South Korea.

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Vesthis is a 19-year old sophomore college student in Philadelphia, PA, an avid League of Legends player, and a Diamond mid lane main player.