Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Underestimated Items

by Reece "SabrewoIf" Dos-Santos 

There are a ton of Items within League of Legends - a few with a lot more upfront impact than others. Some items may be considered core items and must-buys on certain champions and in certain categories, like Blade of the Ruined King on most AD Bruisers. But with the glaring popularity of those items comes the overlooking of others that honestly could make game changing differences when utilized correctly. I merely aim to touch upon a few within this article to try and raise awareness on the items that no one will see coming.


When this item was first announced I was excited because the concept sounded amazingly useful, especially for my play style, which involves a lot of diving and reckless assassinations. The thought of being able to fully commit to an opponent who thinks they’re safe under a turret is undeniably strong. So strong, in fact, that the item itself simply could not be allowed to have overwhelming stats. It doesn't match up against core AP items such as Void Staff and Athene’s, but I still believe that on the right champions it can be a useful item. Champions like Fizz and Akali, who have to go balls deep for kills, would greatly benefit from the ability to disable turrets for 2.5 seconds as they provide a suitable window for the final blow and the escape attempt (not to mention that the item resets the stacking damage of turrets as well which is even more valuable in the current patches where they reach max power faster). Another benefit of Ohmwrecker is that it provides a little bit more health, which is valuable to high damage assassins who cannot afford to use too many slots for defensive measures. I often find myself wondering why teams like LMQ, who are known for furiously diving turrets, don’t utilize this item to its potential.

 Another great tip with this item is the fact that when next to the nexus turrets, this item disables them both, allowing for dynamic diving that no one would expect and also enabling teams to finish the game faster when racing death timers and without minions. When considering what to build Ohmwrecker over, consider it over items that would otherwise provide similar stats like Rylais and Liandries. AP Supports can also combo this item with Twin Shadows and Talisman of Ascension to ensure escape is never truly possible for an enemy.

Sword of the Divine:

Sword of the Divine is an interesting concept that has also never really seen any screen time in the professional scene and in normal play, maybe because the base stats aren’t as impressive or maybe because no one has truly figured out how to efficiently utilize this item. 100% Attack Speed and Critical Strike Chance is a very powerful steroid that can turn any trade in your favour in an instant. On AD Carries, this item is crazy, but it isn't built in favour of Static Shiv, Phantom Dancer, and Youmuu’s Ghostblade, which provide much better stats (and the latter gives an active that seems more valuable at face value). You even lose the attack speed that Sword of the Divine gives you when it goes on cooldown so why would anyone want to build the item? The redeeming feature of Sword of The Divine in my opinion is the fact that the current cooldown is halved by champion kills. Assuming every time you use it you get a kill it has a 30 second cooldown, this makes it effective in split push situations where you can easily 1v1 and dispatch the person that tries to stop you. It also makes the item effective in extended team fight situations where you could legitimately use it more than once if you pick up two or three kills from its first use. Unlike Ohmwrecker which is a more reliable pickup, Sword of the Divine requires mastery and effectiveness in its use to become a super item. Misuse could leave you crippled, but effective use could be the deciding factor in many fights.

Zeke’s Herald:

Why this item isn't used more is beyond me, especially when AD mid laners like Yasuo remain top tier picks.  If your solo laners are AD, someone on your team should definitely have Zeke’s Herald. +20 AD and 10% Life Steal are valuable stats that could easily turn the tide of any team fight, and the CDR and the Health are also valuable stats that could benefit some bruisers and junglers. Assuming all four other team mates benefit from the passive, the item itself has 300% gold efficiency. Provided your team is also under the protection of Locket of the Iron Solari, you have a huge amount of extra stats in both offence and defense. I believe Zeke’s Herald is a great pickup on the current Rengar play style seen in the LCS, which plays out on CDR and bruiser items rather than full damage. Thresh could also greatly benefit on the extra damage on his basic attacks as well as the added effect for the ADC which could help snowball the lane. Zeke’s Herald also has the benefit of being the only defensive/utility item that provides Life Steal, making it viable on champions that need tankiness on top of life steal like Trundle and Shyvana. When building Zeke’s Herald, always look towards its aura impact rather than the impact of its face value stats. The items I’ve covered so far all have rather average base stats but the power of these items comes from the enemy’s inability to fully comprehend the value of their passives and actives. The true power of Zeke’s Herald can be summarized by Ashe: United we are stronger. 

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

European LCS Week 10 Power Rankings

by Matt “It’s Pure Luck” Lee

Welcome to my European LCS power rankings! While it’s perhaps a bit late in the season to start doing this as we head into our final week, it’s one of the most enjoyable debates that can be had when talking about the LCS.  First let’s take a look at the criteria teams will be judged on:

It’s not just your record that determines your ranking. Just because you have a better record than another team does NOT necessarily mean you are better in my eyes.  The proverbial “eye test” is incredibly important. Are you winning games narrowly or convincingly? Did you go 2-0 in a week where you trailed in both games but the other team made massive mistakes and it allowed you to come back? How a team looks is very important.
Results from the past few weeks.
General trends of a team’s performance vs upper-echelon opponents in the league. Playing well vs the top tier teams is obviously more impressive than crushing the bottom three constantly.
A team’s performance historically. This will weight a bit less, but a team like Fnatic will get more of a pass when they are struggling a bit than someone like the Copenhagen Wolves will.

With that defined, let’s take a look at the rankings!

1) Alliance (18-6) – This one really won’t come as any surprise. After a minor setback in losing four straight during Weeks Seven and Eight, Alliance has come back very strong and won four in a row. The win over red-hot Fnatic was particularly impressive as Rekkles and friends had been destroying everything in their path on the back of an eight game win streak. It wasn't the cleanest of wins as it took fifty-two minutes, but they played it safe, knowing a win all but guaranteed them the top spot in the final standings.

2) Fnatic (16-8) – Fnatic saw their eight game win streak snapped vs Alliance on day one last week. It didn't faze them much, though, as they took down a good Millenium team on the second day. One could make a case for Fnatic being in the top spot and they might have a point. They sit at 9-1 in their last ten games and they weren't narrowly winning these for the most part. Fnatic had been decimating their opposition ever since Week Seven. Ultimately, Fnatic posting a 1-3 record vs Alliance gives Alliance the slight nod.

3) Millenium (13-11) – Millenium have been playing fairly well lately, picking up four wins in their last six games after scuffling a bit during Super Week.  As usual for them, the catalysts continue to be Kerp and Creaton. Creaton has been outstanding the last three weeks, posting a KDA of 10.25. Kerp has continued to show his Twisted Fate pick is to be feared, and he even managed to pull out a surprise pick in Zilean last week and played it very well.  If Millenium continues to progress their style and show they can play more than a pick based team at a high level, they have a very high ceiling with the talent that is on the team.

4) Supa Hot Crew (14-10) – Much like Millenium, Supa Hot Crew sits here with an outside chance at possibly grabbing that two seed and getting a bye in the playoffs. More than likely though, they will end up fighting it out for the three seed. The upcoming game between SHC and Millenium on Thursday could very well decide who does grab that spot; a loss by the Crew there would drop them to 1-3 vs Millenium on the split. While MrRalleZ tends to be considered the best player on this team, you could make a case that the most important is Selfie in the mid lane. We saw it this past week as he had a terrific KDA of 13.5 in playing Ahri both games. Consistent play from him should see positive results for SHC in the future and at the least a shot at Worlds in the third place game.

5) Roccat (11-13) – Roccat continue to be one of the most (if not the most) puzzling teams in the European LCS. They managed to pull their record back to .500 after they had an impressive run between Weeks Four and Eight, where they won nine of their twelve games.  And then in Week Ten, they promptly managed to go 0-2, and it was to two teams very close to them in the standings, Millenium and the Supa Hot Crew.  Celaver and Xaxus in particular have had a difficult time this split. Celaver currently has the sixth best KDA among AD carries in Europe, while Xaxus is seventh among top laners. Jankos has been a bright spot for the team, and as he goes the team tends to go. His teammates will need to step up if they wish to avoid facing relegation in the promotion tournament.

6) SK Gaming (12-12) – SK finally ended the free fall they had been in by defeating Roccat last week, though it wasn't easy for them to close that game out. That game itself showed where the confidence level of SK is right now; they had a massive lead early on and gave Roccat every shot to get back into it. They simply have not looked like the same team from the first six weeks of this split, or the one from all of spring. They sit at 3-7 in their last ten games; many of them decisive victories for their opponents. Looking even further into it, two of those three wins came in Super Week vs Gambit and the Copenhagen Wolves, both of whom are a mess. Many claims around SK the last split and even early on in this one were that they didn’t have great individual talent and mechanics, but great teamwork through the mid and late game. It might be the time where the lack of mechanical ability in comparison to their opponents is catching up to them.

7) Copenhagen Wolves (7-17) – The Wolves are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but the chances are minimal, as one win by Roccat or one loss by the Wolves puts Roccat in the playoffs and sends the Wolves to the promotion tournament.  They had managed to put two decent weeks back to back in Weeks Eight and Nine, going 3-1 in their four games. Last week however, the wheels fell off the wagon. They were dispatched fairly quickly by Millenium in a game that only took 31:23, and then were defeated by Alliance in what was possibly the most lopsided game in the EU LCS this year.  The Wolves can avoid the dreaded eighth place finish if they beat Gambit this week, or if they win one game and Gambit lose at least two.

8) Gambit Gaming (5-19) – While Gambit was definitely on a downward trend toward the end of the spring split, it would be hard for many people to say they saw this coming. They sit two games behind the Wolves for the seventh place spot with only four games left, so it’s likely Gambit end the season in last place. The twist of fate there would be the possible date vs Ninjas in Pyjamas and Alex Ich in the promotion tournament. The team as a whole simply does not look to be LCS caliber at this moment. The benching of Darien hasn't helped at all, and Diamond looks even worse since he was put back into the starting lineup. In fact, Diamond has a line of 3/17/7 since he was reinstated as a starter. At this point in time, it’s hard to imagine Gambit will retain their spot in the LCS with the way they are playing.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Battle At The Top: A Review of the EU LCS Match of the Week

By Ethan "AkeyBreakyy" Akey

For the third match of W10D1 (week 10, day 1) Fnatic took on the EU LCS leading team, Alliance. On a seven game winning streak, Fnatic hoped to continue their streak and tie with Alliance, who was sitting at the top of the leaderboard. As we saw in week 9, Fnatic made quick work of the Cophenhagen Wolves, and Rekkles earned the first Pentakill of the Summer Split. If Alliance allows Rekkles to pick Vayne, they could be in for a world of hurt. Rekkles currently holds the highest KDA for any Player/Champion combo when he is on Vayne. If Fnatic can lock up Vayne for their ADC, they could have a better chance at tying this series up with the EU LCS leader. Fnatic needs to tie up the series between Alliance, which it currently sits at a 2-1 in favor of Alliance right now. Both teams are coming into this match in their best playing form.

With the majority of the bans going to eliminate top tier junglers and mid laners, sOAZ locks up Gragas with the first pick for Fnatic. In return, Alliance pick up Kog’Maw and Oriana for their first and second pick. With Lee Sin being banned, this opens up Elise, which is one of Cyanide's top picks. For Fnatic’s second pick, Cyanide decides to go with Jarvan instead. Fnatic uses Jarvan as their signature dragon-stealing champion, and Fnatic looks to ride their aggressive playstyle into this match-up with this pick. With Fnatic’s third pick, YellOwStaR gets his Thresh, which is his go to champion. This is YellOwStaR's eleventh game on Thresh, with eight victories under his belt - potentially the strongest Thresh player in the EU LCS. Riven and Morgana are locked up for Alliance with their third and fourth picks. While Fnatic may have a very strong Thresh, Nyph is undefeated on Morgana for Alliance. With Fnatic now needing a lot of burst damage to take down the shields of Riven, Oriana, and Morgana, they grab Jinx and Ziggs. Jinx is an interesting pick. Vayne could have been more of the hyper-carry that Rekkles excels on. If Fnatic can chain their crowd-control together, they can easily shut down Shook on Riven. Wickd rounds out the final pick for Alliance by taking Irelia. Fnatic and Alliance jump in to the Summoner’s Rift to see if one team can level the score or if Alliance can pull ahead even further.

To start this match, Shook is tested by Fnatic after he is invaded by the entire enemy team. Being forced to blow his Flash within the first fifty-five seconds of the match, this could really shake up his confidence and force Shook to play very passive for the duration of his cooldown. Fnatic displays a very aggressive start to their match against Alliance by forcing three of their members to pop Flash within the first three minutes of the match. With more than half of Alliance without their summoner spell, this is the strong and strategic start Fnatic needs that can allow them to put the pressure down on the enemy turrets or to secure kills.

YellOwStaR proves to be the impact player in the early phases of this game by picking up the first blood for Fnatic and puts on a display to show he is not afraid to roam from top to bottom in order to support all of Fnatic's lanes. Around the 8:00 minute mark, all of the lanes start to normalize with the teams rotating their ADC & Support duos back to the bottom lane. With Alliance having their duo back in the bottom lane, this allows them to secure the first dragon of the game. Shook, on the other hand, hasn't been much of a factor up to this point, being bullied from the start and having his jungle buffs stolen from him.

Fnatic gives up one death for a dragon kill, but Rekkles picks up a kill on Froggen with a Super Mega Death Rocket. Soaz scores a kill as Wickd gets caught out under the middle turret, and Fnatic, with three turrets down, pulls ahead with a 2k gold lead. Here Fnatic puts on a show with Jarvan and displays just why they utilize him as the dragon-stealing pick, as Cyanide does just that on the second dragon of the game. Alliance is still waiting on Shook to get involved. Fnatic is too mobile and Shook hasn't been able to have much presence this game. Soaz is still playing catch-up on Fnatic's side but Wickd, on the other hand, needs to pair with Shook to pick off Rekkles right away in team fights.

Alliance catches Peke with Fnatic turning around and splitting up. With this very important engage, Fnatic loses dragon, and Alliance picks off both Peke and YellOwStaR.

This match has been all about the strategic level. Fnatic punished Alliance and got their baron and, in return, Alliance punished Fnatic's mistake and got a tower, dragon, and two kills. We haven't seen a real full-on team fight, partially due to the fact that this game could end with one convincing team fight. One mistake from any player could cost their team the game. All of these champions can melt enemy towers, and get through them very quickly. Both teams are playing a very passive and careful style, almost avoiding any team fight because of how easily they can sway the match.

Alliance gets the baron, gaining the confidence they need to push in to Fnatic's base. With this baron, they break through the defense of Fnatic, taken their middle turret, middle inhibitor, and their top lane inner turret. The indecisiveness by Fnatic has lead to them being pushed past their own inhibitors. At this point, Fnatic also know the fear of being clumped up and annihilated by the AOE potential of Alliance. 

At the 52 minute mark, two men down for Fnatic, two inhibitors down, and the numbers advantage for Alliance, this spells defeat for xPeke and the boys. With a 6-3 victory going to Alliance, they shut down Fnatic and become undisputed leader of the EU ladder. After Fnatic took the first baron, Alliance nailed their aggressive playstyle down even harder. If Fnatic had played more aggressively, could they have saved their win streak? Both teams demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of their opposing compositions. In the end, Fnatic just didn't have the damage to burn through Morgana, Oriana, and Irelia. Alliance secures their spot at the top of the ladder with this win over Fnatic and currently holds a 3-1 series lead between the two teams. Viewers can only hope that this is just a glimpse of what is to come at the Summer Split finals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Understanding Your Champion

By Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

So you’ve heard casters and other people talk about what a champion is good at, what certain team comps are good at, and finally, champion power curves. This is some complex stuff that I find a lot of people grasp, but do not truly understand. Everyone knows that Tristana has a strange power curve, and it has to do with her passive, but do you know what specifically about her kit makes this true?

This kind of logic applies to all champs and teams, and I feel a huge part of trying to climb the ladder comes from understanding what you and the rest of your team are good at. Now, many people try and memorize things like match-ups or where a champion's strengths lie, but that takes a lot of time. Time that could be better spent putting a plan together for the game. The better thing to do is apply logic and draw conclusions from that.

First of all, this requires understanding champions. I’m not saying you need to memorize every skill and every cooldown, although the more you do, the easier it is and more precise you can be. It’s important to look at what the basic champs skills are. Let’s take an example, since that’s the best way to get a handle on these types of things.

We’ll take Caitlyn as a first example. Caitlyn’s known as a lane bully ADC that dominates in lane and falls off in comparison to other ADCs as the game continues. I’ve seen a lot of people take this to mean she doesn't do damage late game, and that’s not true. First, what makes her strong in lane?

·         Her 650 range is the highest base range in the game.

·         She has a very easy time pushing the lane at level 1 with her Q

·         Her Q also is a great way to farm and poke at the same time because it passes through targets

·         Her E lets her escape ganks on the off chance she gets her range closed in on.

·         She can self ward with W

·         Her Ult is guaranteed damage and can be impactful in non-sustain lanes

Some of this is pretty obvious stuff, some of it not as much. The more you’re able to piece together from experience, the more you can strategize. Now, since we know what her strengths are; what are her weaknesses?

·         Ultimate can be blocked, and forces her to stand still and cast

·         Only one basic skill does meaningful damage

·         She has no built-in steroids

·         Her only self peel is slow and has a long CD
            So how do these points lead to Cait having a lackluster late game? First, her ultimate can be intercepted by other champs. The cast time is long and the target is obvious. Using this in a teamfight can not only mean death if used at the wrong time, but lowers your DPS because you’re no longer attacking the enemy. It’s best used in between fights, but once late game comes around, ADCs are known for constant DPS in teamfights which means her Ult has little to no use in that aspect. Add in the fact that the long and obvious cast time means someone else has a long time to jump in front of the bullet and tank the shot. Late in the game people are almost always moving in groups, which means the tankiest person can usually take the shot and you’ll get the least out of your skill.

            Next, her W and E come into account. When you compare Caitlyn to other ADCs, most other ADCs have more damaging skills. Kog has his W Q and ult(which I’m counting because it can be used multiple times in a fight), Draven has everything except his E, etc. Caitlyn has one basic skill that can be used in a teamfight outside of her auto attacks. Not only that, but it loses damage as it passes through targets and forces her to stay still to cast it. Her W and E are of no use to her in teamfights outside of trying to get away from people.

Finally, and in relation to the last point, she has nothing in her kit that boosts her damage output. Think of every ADC that is known for late game power: Kog Maw, Twitch, Vayne, Tristana. What do all of these champs has in common? They all have something in their kit that inherently boosts their damage output. Whether it’s percentage health damage, attack speed boosts, or a range increase. Caitlyn has nothing of the sort that can give her more damage other than building items, which means her possible damage is inherently lower.

Now I went into a lot of detail, but as long as you can understand the bullet points, you can apply this to any champ. Look at where they are strong and where they aren’t strong and you can piece together what you as a player and team need to avoid and what you need to exploit.

The common things you need to look at are:

·         Range
·         CD length
·         What Abilities do
·         How well they scale (do they do % damage/have high ratios or fall flat)
·         Where does power spike and where does it die

            You don’t have to know specifics, but have a general idea. I’ll use Shaco this time to demonstrate my point since he’s a champ I don’t know as well.


·         Mobile from Q which is a flash with invis
·         Great at setting traps and bursting with surprise while feared
·         Very slippery
·         Passive and E give a lot of damage
·         Ult creates clone for confusion and procs all on-hit and can attack on its own


·         No immediate CC on command
·         Dangerous/Slow early clear
·         Very squishy and revealing in wrong location means death
·         Usually needs to gank because he will not clear well until he gets items
·         Teamfight potential is weak because invis time is low and W needs to be pre-set to be of much use.
·         All single target damage

These are the reasons why Shaco is known for devastating early ganks, but can’t teamfight well unless he gets far enough ahead to burst people. His dueling potential is also great especially if he puts a trap down in advance when the game is still running as planned. As you can see even though I’ve never played Shaco, my experience and understanding of the fundamentals of his kit let me know what he does and what I should do in response.

Now if you’re trying to find what a team as a whole is built upon, you apply the same process times 5. You’ll look at the positives and weaknesses of each champ on your team and the other team. Compare the similarities and you’ll see what both teams compositions are built for and are weak against. You can look and see where each player gets their power spike in terms of levels and items once you get really good at it.

This is a massive part of becoming a successful jungler more than any other role. It lets you know who’s weak and when, and that’s huge when you’re affecting every lane and contemplating invading the other jungler.

So let’s take it all full circle and look back at Trist and how her power curve works. She’s got a good early game, poor mid game, and a disgustingly strong late game. Her good early game comes from the fact that her base damage on her E skill is pretty good, and it’s magic damage on top of that, which most bot lanes don’t itemize for early. Her E also gives grievous wounds, meaning that she should regen from the trade better. Once you get to mid game, the damage from that falls off because it scales off AP which you won’t build. In fact, all of her skills have AP scaling, which is why she falls off very hard past early game. Her saving grace, actually, has nothing to do with her early game power and is why she has a strange curve. It’s actually a combo of her passive and Q. Her passive gives her range per level and her range gets to be higher than anyone in the game late besides an ulting Twitch. Throw in a whopping 90% attack speed boost on her Q and you've got a lot of damage hitting from very far away. The Q attack speed means she can build more AD and hit harder. The final part of her kit that makes her unstoppable late game is the safety she gets. Her ultimate is low cooldown and blows people away from her as well as having a long range jump that resets on a kill or assist.

Analyzing champions is a huge skill of League of Legends that takes some time to fully understand on its own. However, you don’t have to start memorizing everything about every champ. With 119 champions in the game that is nearly impossible. The important thing is to understand the basic idea of what each champ does and plan around everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. If you apply this to your own games, you can look past the idea of just trying to CS and following a similar pattern every game, and start strategizing on how to pull an advantage through logically understanding strengths and weaknesses.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Intimacy has its Price : The Big Booth Debate

Booths vs. No Booths

By Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis
            Recently the big stink going around the LCS circuit is over the implementation, or lack thereof, of soundproof booths. Anyone who watches LCS today will see the players are in an open air environment and are fully visible to fans. This was to promote intimacy between fans and players, just like almost any other sport. However, LoL, and E-sports in general, aren't like other sports. There’s a lot of deception and trickery as well as other things that need to be hidden from the opposing team. Most sports remedy this by having a playbook or sidelines where these plans are relayed out to the field. Imagine, in football, if the audience told the other team what play they were running. That’s the best analogy for what the LCS is dealing with at the moment.

            Riot’s always run a thin line between having the audience feel engaged with the game, and the audience actually being part of the game. The LCS is run in an open atmosphere where players and spectators see things at almost the same time. Riot has admitted there is a slight delay, but even still, players know the delay. Players wear sound-proof headsets and small earbuds that go underneath. These headsets don’t completely block out all sound, but they at least do something to keep players from hearing anything from the audience that might change the outcome of the game. However, even if they can’t make out specific words, cheers alone can be enough to understand what's occurred. Let’s look at what the crowd generally cheers for in the LCS:

·         Wards
·         Towers
·         Dragons
·         Barons
·         Kills
·         Steals of any kind

            Of all of these, the only ones that aren’t always visible to both teams are Dragons and Barons. Based on positioning  of the enemy it can be pretty simple to make out what was done and have an almost exact timer for it if the audience is heard. Krepo has even come out himself to say that players are well aware of both the crowd and the delay that they’re seeing.

This set up has recently come under fire as Complexity’s ADC ROBERTxLEE stated on his stream that there was a point in his match against Curse where he wasn't sure what was being said on the comms. This wasn't an issue with headsets not working properly either. The sound that was being heard was coming through his teammates mics. Riot absolutely needs to address this issue. Communication between teammates in a game as cooperative as LoL is paramount. Most of the time, plays happen in League because the other team didn't work as a cohesive unit for one reason or another. If this persists and happens again, it could easily swing the outcome of a game, and consequently a season, if it occurs at the right (or in this case wrong) time.

Ideas have been passed around for a while now, and the most readily accepted one is the implementation of booths. Booths have been used in many E-sports games. Starcraft and Dota usually use booths for their events for the exact reason that people are clamoring for them now. They do a better job at keeping sound out of players hearing range than headsets alone. In fact, OGN, the Korean LoL league, uses both of them

The only issue here is the possibility of these booths being little to no use in terms of effectiveness. People have argued that considering the strength of the headsets used, the diminishing returns of adding a booth are almost non-existent. The headsets used in the LCS are approved for use near jet engines, meaning that if sound gets through them, theoretically, a booth isn’t going to do much to stop it. The other issue comes with vibrations.

Obviously sound comes from vibrations, and at events like the LCS there’s not only a lot of sound, but a lot of other things that can cause vibrations as well. (e.g. feet stomping, inflatable noise makers, etc.) Booths and headsets do nothing to stop this and it can cause all of the issues that come with sounds. For large scale crowds, there really is no effective way to keep things from being heard outside of playing from a remote area, and Riot will do anything to keep that from happening.

The normal LCS crowd has a few hundred people. According to most, albeit self-proclaimed, sound experts, vibrations shouldn't be an issue routinely faced in the LCS. World’s may be another issue, but normal games leading up to the world playoffs should see at least some effectiveness from booths.

There’s also been the argument of money. To be honest, it’s hard to get a grasp on which side of the argument is really true here. It’s more an issue of conflicting information rather than one side being right or wrong. I’ve seen reports of the LCS making Riot tons of money, and I’ve seen other information that says the LCS actually loses money in exchange for further advertising the game. There’s no official information straight from Riot so I can’t actually confirm which side is correct. This is in addition to varying booth prices. Depending on how high tech Riot would get if they decided on booths, the prices could go from a few hundred each or into the thousands. If it’s true that the LCS doesn't make money, it’s easy to see how Riot could refrain from putting more money into booths.

Personally, I find myself siding with putting booths on stage. Riot has always prided themselves on keeping player/audience interaction high, but at this point there are enough other ways for players to interact that the negatives outweigh the positives. Even if they decide against booths, there needs to be some kind of statement as to why or what Riot intends to do. There’s no reason to not comment on this considering the amount of backlash that has occurred. Fans need to at least hear a reason and keeping quiet about this will only increase the controversy as people make up their own reasons.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reaction Time : What Is It...And How Can You Improve It?

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

An enemy jungler jumps out at you from the bushes unexpected. You activate your shield and hit him with a stun a split second later, before backing under your turret. Reaction time, that tiny interval between stimulus and response, needs to be extremely fast in pro gamers. Your brain has to make a nearly instantaneous assessment so you can act accordingly. It differs a bit from reflexes, which are involuntary or instinctive movements you make without conscious thought. With reaction time, you need to have a high capacity for strategic thinking.

For visual based stimuli, it's possible to decrease your reaction time with three weeks of practice, and the effects of practice last for at least three weeks, so continual practice should keep your reaction time at its trainable best. In fact, there are plenty of gaming sites online (like Aim400kg) with programs specifically made to help you hone your aim, speed and accuracy.     

Gamers (and everyone else) tend to react more quickly to auditory queues than visual ones, because an auditory stimulus only takes 10 msec to reach the brain, but a visual stimulus takes 20-40 msec. You probably don't even realize how much you rely on auditory clues in League until you play the game with no sound.  Then, you're stuck watching out for things you normally listened for, like the sound of Varus drawing back his bow or Zac preparing to jump.   

Training alone won't help you with speed, though. Age and sex are both strong factors in how quickly you react, both instinctively and intentionally. While most people tend to believe it is teens who have the fastest reaction time, repeated studies have found the optimal age for reaction time is in your mid to late twenties. Ditto with reflexes. It's also interesting to note that men have slightly faster reaction times than women, a disadvantage not reduced by practice or training. Perhaps this in part explains why natural-born female gamers haven't breached the highest levels of pro-dom.

Another important factor affecting reaction time is 'arousal,' or your state of attention, including muscular readiness. Reaction time is fastest with an intermediate level of arousal, and lessens when the player is too relaxed or tense. A good night's rest is essential to performance, as is the experienced calm of a confident player. Plus, in the cool air of the LCS studios, the hand warmers we see players gripping before their games helps to both stimulate and loosen the finger muscles for maximum flexibility. Visual fatigue also plays a part, although the jury is still out on the effectiveness of Gunnars and other gaming glasses.

Despite most of us not worrying about our own execution on a scientific scale, video game players in general still have faster reaction times than their peers (up to 25% faster.) Gaming also improves a players perception, attention and probabilistic inference (aka decision making), and can enhance the players skills and performance both in and out of game - a fact the US Military (and Sci-fi writers) take full advantage of. (Ender's Game, anyone?)     

If you want to be a pro gamer, training to improve your reaction time and reflexes could be vital to your success, and good old-fashioned practice really does help in this regard. Try out online training games to improve your click speed / aim, and make sure you are playing at your awake, attentive and confident best. Don't play when you're tired or tense, or when you've just woken up and your body isn't functioning yet. (And remember to fine tune your computer settings, because latency is the one reaction time killer you can't do much else about.)  

A Literature Review on Reaction Times by Robert J. Kosinski Clemson University
Improved Probabilistic Inference as a General Learning Mechanism with Action Video Games  by C. Shawn Green, Alexandre Pouget and Daphne Bavelier

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Is the Generation Gap Slowing eSports Development ?

by Louis "Guichex" Lemeillet

“Hey son, shouldn't you go find some activity or join a sports club while you're searching for a job ? I know it's not your kind of thing but you could meet new people there !” “Dad, I'm already meeting new people quite often with my online games, and I have many friends I play with regularly” “Yeah, but that's not the same”. I bet I'm not the only one who went through a similar discussion with his parents. And in my opinion that last phrase is one of the best highlight of what is going on when you talk about “gap generation.” Our parents are having trouble figuring out what's going on within the digital age - where their children spend a lot of time playing video games or using social medias, because they don't understand where we're finding our fulfillment doing or watching such things.

For explaining this, the intelligentsia often refers to the introduction of “digital technology” and separates people born during or after the 2000s from those born before. Of course, it's not that strict and most generally includes people who grew up surrounded by those technologies. These generations are called the digital natives - versus the non-digital natives.

        A digi-what ?

            A digital native is a person “born during or after the general introduction of digital technologies”. It concerns every person who grew up with the technology, so every one between their late teens and early 30s. And to be even more clear : it is a person who can intuitively use any kind of digital device like smartphones, tablets, motion-control or such. Our parents don't know, at least intuitively, how to use such things; and they have to learn through a different process as they didn't grew up surrounded by this technology. For them, a similar situation would have been the introduction of the television, versus our grandparents who didn't knew that technology.

            Our parents had a similar way of life, except that it was not in front of the same technological device. They ate in front of their TV like we eat in front of our computers, they discover a new way to inform themselves, so did we. They saw the introduction of tape recorders, the all-new possibility to record and see something later, as we saw the introduction of the Cloud where you don't even have to record to see something you wanted to see. Both generations had their newfangled technology but they didn't grew up with the same, forever creating a gap between their behavior.

            Nevertheless, our parents perfectly understood the introduction of video games. They bought for us (well not all of us, some always see virtual games as “the devil”) Nintendos, Ataris, Playstations, etc. They understood it was something we liked and enjoyed as it was something completely new and dreamy. They even got into it at some point to share some time with their children. In the end, it was only like a board game that you were playing on your TV with “some technological device.” Where they lost us is with the introduction of the Internet and the possibility to interact with millions of people instantly and all over the world.

            They understood why we would play with our friends in our living room, but they couldn't understand why we would play with our friends each in our respective houses. Not seeing each other while we are playing is something totally abstract to a lot of our parents, but absolutely normal for us. This subject is extremely wide though and a lot of other things are coming in the way to explain this phenomenon like the birth and development of virtual identities, etc. If you wanted my point of view, here it is in its simplified version: Internet allows us to be whoever we want online and we can loosen up a lot more than our parents in real life. We're being more and more honest in our real lives because we can express all our bad sides on the “virtual” one, and we so create a generation gap.

        Digital Natives Rule eSports

            Now, let's look at the eSports stats we are beginning to harvest. Worldwide viewership for professional games tournaments exploded from 8.4 million in 2010 to over 70 million last year, with the lion's share made up of a demographic of men between their late teens to early thirties. Men over thirty are not a really big demographic in eSports; and you see here a real first difference regarding eSports audience. Viewers are digital natives & non-viewers are non-digital natives. Pretty manichean.      
            If we compare the audience of eSports, and what we discussed before about the digital natives, we can see a clear similitude between the two. eSports fans are digital natives who grew up surrounded by video games and Internet. It feels quite logical that people fond of virtual sports would be familiar with new technologies, even if they're not addict to it, but it also proves that non-digital natives wouldn't understand what we're seeing in all this. Somewhere along the road we lost our parents, the non-digital natives, and they can't come back now that we're becoming more and more connected by live, real life events, team bonding, sportsmanship or other values they could understand.

            Where I am going with this is: People playing and more importantly, watching video games are mostly between 12 & 30 years-old, people running eSports companies are also quite in their early 30's top. But the executive heads in charge of big mainstream industries are much older than that and belong to the non-digital natives generations.

        Are eSports Really Mainstream ?

            As much as they pretend to understand youngsters by showing how they love their smartphones or their Macbook (yes Dad, I'm looking at you), our parents generation won't see immediately what eSports is all about, how does it works, why do people enjoy that and most importantly where are the perks of all that. They can't see as easily as youngsters where can profit be made because they didn't grew up surrounded by digital technologies, Internet and its inter-connectivity, and don't understand as fast as us what are the perks, what are the drawbacks.
            And, naturally, if you don't see clearly where you can benefit from all this, then you won't take risks by investing in such a new industry. If you can't understand it, you'll fear it. Not like “Oh my god, nerds are taking over the world !” but more like “This is just a trend, it'll not last, no point in investing for a bunch of young utopists”.

            Of course, experienced strategists in huge companies will always see some potential in new industries, and will help their companies make a move towards eSports like Coca-cola did. But one believing in something won't make it popular, we need many. We can see that we're still far from the “mainstream” when you're looking at medias talking about eSports : even if its slightly changing with time, every report I saw was like a report on “wild life” where a specific kind of “humans” were enjoying watching other people playing video games. Ever saw that little smile and nod of a journalist listening to a report on eSports? It will necessarily change when it'll become mainstream, but for now we can just wait and believe that someday you'll smile and nod in front of this journalist like he did when he's forced to acknowledge eSports.

        Better Safe Than Sorry

            But we are also facing something more : because you are a digital native doesn't mean you understand eSports. In my opinion, you'll be more able to understand why it's working and how you create something which will result in profits for everyone ; but that is all. If you truly want to understand eSports, you have to drown yourself into it and live the thing : eSport is truly a subculture on his own. It means non-digital natives would have to understand a culture where people are using technologies they're not familiar with and share something that is not “real” to them. And by “real” I mean that we share something “virtual,” as a video game is taking place in a “virtual world.” Non-digital natives are really facing trouble deeply understanding that. It's not that they can't understand, it's that you'll never have the same approach towards it if you were raised surrounded by “virtuality”.
            These facts created invisible barriers which are hard to break for a lot of people, and eSports will have to take its time to become something “mainstream” and acknowledged by everyone. We have already forced it a lot, and it would be “delicate” to go further without taking others in consideration. But times are changing and Nintendo, for example, is now dedicating part of its efforts towards eSports while they tried to deny the EVO's crew to stream their Super Smash Bros Melee tournament just last year.
            Coca-cola invested this year into the Challenger Series of League of Legends with their brand Coke Zero : an ultimate proof that, despite companies are starting to understand the potential of eSports, they're just dipping their toes. Some companies could have gone all-in but many prefer to see where this is going; mainly because it's a whole new world they can't understand fast enough.
            Nevertheless, it's also a proof that mainstream companies are starting to see what is going on, and will seek advice towards the young generations to understand this new “thing”. Knowledge and feelings will be shared between eSports and mainstream companies to create something big and profitable for both parts. I often think that this cautiousness might be a good thing. For once, rushing things and injecting tons of money will not happen, and will not ruin our beloved virtual sport.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

League of Legends' Fan Art : Almost as Popular as the Game

League of Legends' fan page on deviantArt boosts over 12,000 members, 14,000 watchers, and just topped One Million page views - and that's just one of about forty League groups that occupy the well-known internet art site. There are pages just for League cosplay, wallpapers and crafts, and one devoted solely to yordles. Because League is filled with over a hundred unique and interesting's a enormous magnet for artists.

Searching the top viewed League pictures there, you'll find a who's who of fan favorites. There's Sona, Ahri, Ashe, and this incredibly dramatic portrayal of Garen by artist David Rapoza.  

Garen by DavidRapozaArt 

League drawings spread across a vast spectrum, from the immensely popular anime styles to more traditional paintings. There's adorable chibis, funny cartoons and gorgeous interpretative art.  

Riven and Talon by LeeKosi

Couples are a common theme on deviantArt. Fans love to pair off champions. There's a lot of dA romance going on. Lulu cuddles up to Veigar and Ezreal is hot for Lux:  

Ezreal and Lux by justduet

And only in art will you find  sworn enemies discovering forbidden love: 

Garen and Kat by eliskalti

There's also a lot of unusual pairings like Riven and Zac, Volibear and Sejuani, Amumu and Annie. In fact, you could probably enter any two champion names together and find a couple picture of them somewhere.   

Rengar and Nidalee by LionKinEn
Which brings us to Rule 34, and the sure knowledge that every possible sexual pairing in league has been explored. Perhaps not all on deviantArt, but one can easily do a search online and find their favorite champions nude and in bed.  

Katarina and Ashe by sharrm
League fans don't just stick to two dimensional art. They create their beloved champions in papercraft and sculpt them in polymar clay. Poros, Teemo mushrooms and Cait's cupcakes grace everything from earrings to charm bracelets. Champions are knitted into amigurumi and sewn into plushies. Even sneakers become canvas.

Cho-Gath by nataliarey

Comics are another popular art form that League has influenced. Besides Skyen's popular Caster Comix, there are some wonderfully innovative comics and graphic novels found on deviantArt's pages. I would especially recommend  The Bounty Hunter by Andrea Leon and Night's Aegis by ShiNaa. 

Night's Aegis by ShiNaa

Custom skin ideas show-off these artists amazing creativity. Some of them are based on current in-game themes, and some are completely over the top, but they are nearly all good enough to make us pull out our wallets if Riot ever implemented them. Who wouldn't want to play with this glorious Sakura Maokai?  

 Sakura Maokai by Uriak 

Videos and streams that show the artist at work are incredible to watch, especially when they give you instructions on how to do it yourself. Also fun is TravagGames, who puts up videos of his friend Rob drawing League champions he's never seen before off verbal descriptions alone. 

If you'd like to become a member of deviantArt's most popular League of Legends group, head on over to and join up!

*Art used with permission from artist. If you like their work, please be sure to visit their pages and leave them a nice note. :)