This last year will undoubtedly be remembered as a hallmark for E-Sports as a whole, and MOBA’s as a competitive medium more specifically.
Riot Games, with their E-Sports giant League of Legends, has raised the bar for E-Sports in a way that leaves even non-gamers in a state of awe, with the incredible scale of the Season 3 World Championships. The World Championship finals took place in Los Angeles, Riot succeeding in selling out the Staples Center, a center usually reserved for massive, mainstream sporting events. This temple for regular sports enthusiasts found itself packed with thousands on thousands of gamers, squeeing in delight and wearing various game regalia and carrying inventive signs to cheer on their favorite players; I found myself rigging my computer to my flat screen with excitement about seeing, live, the biggest E-Sports event in history.
Thus, Riot raised the bar. But what now?
What does the company that turned the volume to eleven do to maintain what they’ve done?
These next few months signal the preseason for Season 4, when the largest grouped waves of in-game changes in the game’s history will begin to hit
These next few months signal the preseason for Season 4, when the largest grouped waves of in-game changes in the game’s history will begin to hit live, and Riot is preparing even now to handle the balancing insanity that will stampede in its wake. In the meantime, though, Riot’s E-Sports management is hard at work.
At PAX West two years ago, the claim was made that Riot intended to fill the Staples Center someday, and now that they’ve done that the best they can do is begin to widen that focus and look for stability. The nature of games is that they go out of date, they become obsolete for their time in many ways, and even the best games begin to fade out of mainstream play as technology moves above and beyond them. Traditional sports like Football, Baseball, and Basketball stand the test of time in their simplicity; it is the complexity of e-sports games that often makes them lose their edge.
In twenty years, will we still have Riot’s League Championship Series playing?
This is possible, certainly, and Riot Games is at this point the torch-carrier for the path MOBA’s will take as a competitive sport over the coming years.
The changes entering the game for Season 4 are bigger in scope than they ever have been before, and there is a reason: the game, as it is, has incomplete mechanics for a broad-scale competitive game and needs the balancing and retooling to keep striving to be the best of the best.
Riot Games, it seems, is on the plate to take a great thing and make it incredible, and I do not believe it could possibly be in better hands.