Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Competitive E-Sports

 I apologize for yesterdays post- bad rant is bad.

This past weekend was Dreamhack, the worlds largest LAN party. There was all sorts of great stuff going on, but I contented myself with the League of Legends season one championship. Just a few days prior, I was watching game seven of the Stanley Cup, and was asking myself why anyone would watch some guys skate around for two hours. Well, an hour, but toss in an hour or two of commercials. When I said as much, I was asked if I would watch top-tier players play a game that I play. I immediately said no, and that I would just play the game myself instead.

Yeah, it didn't last long. I mean, at the time I was thinking of the games that I play besides League of Legends. Watching top tier players play WoW is boring, because looking in on a well executed PvE encounter is essentially watching some people step left/right/left/right over and over again. For them, there is no challenge and since the fight isn't dynamic, they can just 'memorize' the steps and then they repeat them over and over. Other games, like Mass Effect or Minecraft- it would be like watching an athlete stretch. While you can do impressive things in the games (more so in Minecraft than Mass Effect), you have a very limited number of abilities, so you can't really chain them together in the impressive way that say, a Frost Mage could, if skilled enough could kite a pack of adds and solo them himself, or the way that a well played Warwick could hold off three or four enemy champions under their own turret.

So my argument was that I would just play the game myself- and I wasn't I was watching other people play the game. Really impressive players, but I wasn't actually playing the game- why should I watch it? After watching several games I picked up some little things that helped me in my games. I learned how to last-hit better, I learned how to run away, I learned how to effectively use my summoners. That doesn't really apply to most people who watch pro sports, as they are (making a stereotype I argued against yesterday) more apt to drink a beer than to play a game of hockey or football. They don't gain anything (other than their entertainment) if they don't play. Even if they do, there isn't much technical skill you can gain from watching someone swing a baseball bat. With a game, since there is actually a finite number of actions you can take, you can see how something is done. When someone gets a home run, its is dependent on the angle of the pitch, the angle of the bat, the power behind each of those. Just swinging and hitting won't get you the home run. If you see that a Warwick with a B.F. Sword can ult onto an unarmored Annie and then hit her with Q, you know that you can do that too, because the game is based off flat numbers.

So I do gain something from it, in addition to the entertainment. And apparently so did a million other people. Now, I know that watching it won't make me shoot up the brackets, but my game as improved since watching it.

And when the team I wanted to win lost, I didn't go rioting.

(Did you see what I did there. Hint: RIOT Games makes LoL. And there were Vancouver riots. I'm so clever)

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