See you on the Rift!

By Jiaren Li

After my column on DotA2, I figure it is only right if it’s arguably major competitor, League of Legends (LoL), is also covered. After all, the World Championship Reveal show was just this past Monday. Riot Games, the company behind League of Legends, hosts an annual showdown called the World Championship, which features the best teams around the world. Unlike the previous year, this is truly an international tournament, featuring teams from traditionally popular regions like the United States, South Korea, and China to new “International Wild Cards” like Brazil and Turkey. Without a doubt, fans around the world will be cheering for their favorites with pride as fireballs fly across the map and fighters make a devastating blow in a fantasy ground — something that would still be considered strange by others.

Within Stevens, you will seldom find a student who doesn’t know what League of Legends is. The same thing holds true for a lot of other places, such as my favorite hair salon — I digress. Many people, myself included, were surprised (or shocked) by the number of people who play “League” here. My League account’s friend list, for example, has over 150 friends, at least three-quarters of whom are Stevens students. What’s more interesting to me, however, was the range and diversity of people who play, from casual gamers who play with friends to serious Diamond I division players to people who got “peer pressured” into playing and became addicted. This, in turn, made League of Legends at Stevens become a social phenomenon outside of LAN gatherings, as you can find people staring at their screens and fiercely clicking their mouse in Hayden Lounge, around dorm rooms, or even at boring lectures (you know who you are).

League of Legends was a breakthrough in the MOBA and MMO field as video game companies were desperate for innovation among multiplayer games. Riot Games was built out of many all-star staffs after acquiring “Guinsoo,” world famous developer and the original guy behind the DotA mod map, and many other prominent designers. Players will be able to choose from a pool of currently over a hundred avatars called “Champions” and try to assemble a team with certain strategies and compositions in mind. The game itself features 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 battles on different maps, most prominent of which is “Summoner’s Rift,” a traditional map with layers of turrets and a central nexus which your opponents seek to destroy. Needless to say, this game became famous for boosting the MOBA game to brand new popularity as millions of players were hugely dedicated.

Many are looking forward to the World Championship starting in a week. This year, Riot Games features an extensive Group Stage involving 16 teams selected from Regional qualifier matches in South Korea, China, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and International Wild Card tournaments. The top place will claim the million dollar prize. While each region has teams with their respective strengths and uniqueness, the Koreans have undoubtedly been viewed to have the “strongest players” after their strong showings at the previous World Championship and at the All-star match this year. However, based on countless Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts, and other social media activities, we can tell everyone will put up their best show.

As an e-sport, League of Legends is fairly young but very well-established. With its explosion in popularity, LoL’s biggest contributions are how it brought many people into e-sports whom would have otherwise never gotten into video games, and how it bridges casual gaming with a top professional spectacle. Tournament time aside, League of Legends constantly occupies the number one spot on most video game streaming sites like Twitch.tv and Azubu. Professional players are happy to show their skills and strategies, even at leisure time, and pull off one amazing play after another. More importantly, LoL is a new way for friends, including people at Stevens, to socialize. It is one thing when you play with friends, but it is another level of enjoyment when you and your friends form a team and fight together.

Whether for fun or for winning, see you on the Summoner’s Rift!