A History of Minions

Long Friday afternoon? Want to just pass the time by reading about League of Legends, while still sounding productive? Check out this absolutely amazing (and hilarious) article on the history of minions.

http://wgrd.com/league-of-legends-history-of-minions/

You’ll laugh, you’ll learn and you’ll be able to tell those around you that you spent your afternoon brushing up on some essential history. Just maybe don’t turn up the volume on the videos too loudly. Might blow your cover.

 

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HotshotGG Addresses CLG Changes

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Several days after Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) announced some major roster changes, Gamespot has released an interview with HotshotGG wherein Hotshot discusses the changes and his decision to step down from the top lane. The interview can be found here, and as always, my analysis can be found scrawled below. If pro League of Legends isn’t your cup of tea, please head straight to the end of the article to find a hilarious video of a Lee Sin kick gone wrong.

I have to admit that I was not overly impressed with the final Hotshot interview. They hyped it hard, and the final result was a brief written piece with a few grammatical problems that caught my attention more than the actual news did (I shouldn’t make fun but I expect a bit better from people who have jobs I wouldn’t mind having 😉 ). Basically, Hotshot’s official reasons for stepping back are to help CLG connect with its fans while teaching Nientonsoh how to be an amazing top. Both are very plausible reasons, but to me, the whole thing suggests that the big unspoken reason is that Hotshot has gotten a little bit burned out.

It is quite believable that Hotshot should want to get more involved in the business side of eSports, but why now? He is still reasonably young (though oldish by LoL standards), he is still a decent player, and for someone who has done as much to build up the game as he has, you have to think that the business side of the game will always be there for him whenever he chose to retire. He states that he wants to better help CLG connect with its fans, but regardless of how passionately he feels about doing this, it is something that most teams are able to do successfully despite the limits put on their time by practicing.

Finally, Hotshot suggests that his stepping away was postponed due to the fact that there was not a lot of top lane talent to replace him. Ummm, anyone remember when Voyboy played for CLG? This just makes me feel like he wasn’t really waiting for another hotshot (see what I did there) to replace him and more likely just wants to take a break from all of the bashing he has been taking for CLG’s poor results. You could tell from his interviews and tweets that the pressure had definitely been getting to him, over the course of the last season, and I really cannot blame him from wanting to make it all stop.

Speaking of that next great CLG top laner, Nientonsoh gets the nod from Hotshot after it was decided that Aphromoo’s heart wasn’t really in going top lane. So why Nientonsoh? Apparently he has a great deal of “potential.” What I am curious about is what top lane “potential” actually means for Hotshot and CLG. I would argue that not only did Voyboy have “potential” he had an actual proven track record of top lane success. Same with Megazero or many of the other top laners who are currently looking for teams. What makes Nientonsoh’s “potential” different? My best guess would be that CLG believes he is most willing to play “protect the Doublelift.” If the Voyboy saga taught us anything it’s that CLG is not looking for a play maker in the top plane. They are looking for someone who is able to split push and protect their prized ADC in team fights.

“Well 2hp, maybe CLG is finally looking for a different style of top laner”.  I do not believe this to be the case or I feel like they would have just snatched up a more established top laner with a reputation for making plays. I believe Nientonsoh is being groomed to be Hotshot 2.0, and I am not convinced that it is a role that will suit him. He undoubtedly will be capable of filling the role. Even if he does have success top, I see his play style as being too similar to his ADC and mid lane play style – hyper aggressive. This could eventually lead to the same kind of disputes that forced out Voyboy.

What I felt even less convinced by was the reason Hotshot gave for taking back bigfatlp. Apparently his “strongest attributes” from mid lane will be a great asset to CLG’s jungle. That’s kind of funny considering I always thought bigfatlp’s main attribute was his ability to sit in his lane, farm, and ignore everything else going on around him. In this case, I think CLG chose to go with something familiar and comforting. bigfatlp knows that this team is all about protecting Doublelift, and my guess is that he is so desperate to get back into the LCS that he will gladly jungle exactly how CLG/Hotshot wants him to. This will surely save CLG from having to break in a new jungler who might have aspirations of making plays or calling shots.

Ok, I am probably being overly negative about CLG’s inability to change into a more aggressive, less Doublelift centric, team. It’s just that I have seen CLG try, or not try, to change before and rarely have they experienced much success. Actually, the most interesting change that is discussed in the article is when Hotshot discusses the idea that a lot of pros from his generation will soon be retiring. Say what you will about HotshotGG but he will, if he is able to stay away, be one of the most successful players to retire from the game.

He will also be among the first of his generation of stars that include folks like saintvicious, Reginald and Scarra. Whatever role Hotshot decides to take whether it be as a coach, business manager, Riot employee etc, you can bet some of the other pros of his generation will be watching to see just how far he can get. How he continues to interact with the LoL and how LoL/Riot interacts with him will probably become the norm for how the retirement of successful pros is dealt with in the future.

The Summer Split of the League Championship Series should be a very interesting one for CLG and HotshotGG, himself. Regardless of how I happen to view the roster changes, I am still a fan of CLG and Hotshot. I believe if everything goes smoothly, and everyone lives up to their potential, they could have a pretty darn good team. If things do not go smoothly it will still be very interesting to follow because, with CLG, a lack of success always generates a surplus of drama. I wouldn’t even be surprised if we saw Hotshot back in the top lane to start season four, but we’ll have to wait and see on that.

Oh and for those of you who just want some action or who might have been hoping to see Aphromoo get kicked to the curb…well I think this video will suffice.

Monday Moves: CLG Making Changes

Some pretty big news coming out of the League of Legends pro scene yesterday. CLG is, once again, reworking their roster, and it looks like the great HotshotGG’s run as a player may be coming to an end. Oh, and if you could care less about pro LoL skip ahead to the end for a video of some awesome Thresh plays. Mondays suck, but hopefully this will hook you out of the blues like a Vayne who has just been introduced to Death Sentence.

Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) has long been a cornerstone of the LoL pro community. They were one of the first organized and sponsored pro teams, and they remain one of the most followed. After what can only be viewed as a sub par spring split (first half of the year), CLG is once again making some major roster moves. The official announcement can be found here. To list out the changes Aphromoo is out, Chauster is moving back to support, bigfatlp is back as the team’s jungler, they have picked up Nientonsoh (formerly ADC for team MARN) as the top laner, and Hotshotgg will officially become the team’s coach/business manager/sub as needed.

Apparently CLG will be releasing an in-depth interview with Hotshot talking about all of these changes and why he has elected, seemingly, to take a step back from playing professionally. I want to wait until seeing this video to offer my full commentary on how I feel about Hotshot stepping away. What I will offer you are a few of the first impressions of other pro players.

Some people are intrigued as to why the team picked up Nientonsoh for top plane. Nientonsoh has mostly built up his reputation as a mid/adc player, and his matchmaking history indicates that his transition to the top lane might not be going so smoothly. It is also a curious move considering there are quite a few established top laners who are unemployed after the latest relegation tournament, including Nientonsoh’s former teammate MegaZero. CLG must see something very special in Nientonsoh to take him over the other veteran, and probably better caliber, top laners who are currently out there.

bigfatlp’s relationship with CLG has been a troubled one for about the last six months. He seemed to be in a rut last year and was not living up to the expectations the team had for him. When he continued to refuse to move into the team’s gaming house, CLG finally benched him in favor of Link. Interestingly, bigfatlp would then go on to lead a challenger team (one rank below pro) that would go on to fight CLG for their spot in the League Championship Series – and lose.

bigfatlp also built his reputation in a role other than the one that CLG intends to have him play, and his matchmaking history also seems to suggest that he is having trouble with his new position. This move really looks like bigfatlp has decided that getting paid to play LoL trumped just streaming with his cats in his basement, and so he begged CLG to take him back. Hotshot might say otherwise in his interview, and for the sake of the team, I hope there’s more to it than what I’m guessing.

Chauster’s move to support is probably the only instantly positive move for CLG. Chauster is an amazing support who has great synergy with DoubleLift, CLG’s amazing ADC. I look forward to seeing these two back in the bot lane together and hope it will allow Doublelift to flourish beyond what he was able to accomplish in the first half of year.

Only time will tell if these moves will help propel CLG back to greatness as it will depend a lot on how Nientonsoh and bigfatlp handle their new positions. I wouldn’t have said that it was obvious that the team needed to make changes as their previous roster had really not been together for THAT long.  It is clear that management viewed their latest LCS showing as unacceptable and decided to pull the trigger. Nientonsoh and bigfatlp are both talented players, but so was Aphromoo. I can’t wait to see if Nientonsoh and bigfatlp can thrive at their new positions or if, like Aphromoo, they struggle with their new roles and ultimately move on from CLG.

A lot of insight on these changes is still yet to be provided. When it is, it will be offered up by the man himself, HotshotGG. I will definitely write a follow up once that interview has been posted. I really do not think this is the last we will see of Hotshot. I picture him as one of those players turned coaches who will love to meddle with his team. Unlike in most pro sports, this will include the option to easily jump back in and play with his team, something that most retired athletes do not get the chance to do. In the meantime, here is a humorous tribute to Hotshot. The language is not the cleanest, so resist watching at work.

 

 

THRESH PLAYS

For those of you who have not committed body and soul to the pro scene, here is the promised Thresh video. It is definitely well worth the time and use of your mouse wheel, and I thank you for taking a look. I promise I will get back to writing about non LCS LoL very soon. Changes at CLG are always a hot topic, and I just couldn’t resist adding my two cents.

Not Picking on Riot’s Pick Order Decision

Champion select has long been League of Legends version of the wild west. Few rules, numerous standoffs and the fastest hand on the keyboard wins their role. Though it might not seem like a huge change, I am very happy with Riot’s decision to officially endorse pick order over call order.

For those of you who do not play League of Legends, or draft pick games in LoL, let me explain how champ select works. The players at the top of the picking order (determined randomly by matchmaking) on each team take turns banning three champs. After that, one of the top picking players selects their champ. Then, the top two players on the other team pick. The ability to pick then alternates back and forth between the teams until everyone has a champ. This process may seem pretty straight forward, but the time to make each pick is fairly limited, and there can be lots of politics involved.

LoL has evolved in such a way that playing the meta is basically crucial to success. This can be challenging when you only have between 30 and 180 seconds (basically the time it takes to make the initial champ bans) to determine who gets to fill which of the five roles available. Some people post several roles they would like to fill. Others don’t even bother to talk; they just leave everyone hanging until it is there turn to pick. Basically, there is a lot of room for frustration and very little time to work out the type of game plan that LoL actually requires for a team to be successful.

One habit that developed was that people would call the roll that they wanted to play. This was likely a natural evolution from the blind pick version of the game, where everyone picks a champion at the same time and whoever picks it first gets it. This call out system is useful for actually encouraging people to indicate what they want. Where it fails is when two people call the same roll, call it at roughly the same time or one person calls the roll and another person picks it anyways. The arguments that would develop out of these disputes would often be enough to splinter teams and ruin the game before it had even started. Think of it like a baseball game where everyone really wants to be the pitcher. There can only be one pitcher, and when the majority of the community are under the age of 20, you can imagine how willing the other players are to continue to try their best when they feel like they were robbed of their position.

“But 2hp, if call order is the done thing, why don’t people just respect it and move on?” Ah, but here’s the thing; not everyone believed that call order was the thing to be followed. Other people were beginning to advocate pick order. Basically, this is where if you pick before someone in the order you can pick a certain position even if that person called it. This created a GREAT dynamic where one person would call their position, another person would say, “I pick before you and I’m going there anyways,” and then you would spend the rest of champ select arguing over one position. Having two different rules on who gets what position was clearly not helping the already delicate process of building a team.

There are a lot of problems in LoL that are, and will be, very tricky to solve. The problem of call order versus pick order has always been something with a very easy solution. With two competing rules emerging, it would be a huge step for Riot to actually state which of the rules they favored. Say what you will about the maturity of the LoL community but I have seen them fight to the death to defend those aforementioned rules. Take one away and hopefully it would encourage people to rally behind the remaining rule.

What guarantee is there that people will actually follow Riot’s endorsement? Personally, I think that most LoL’ers recognize that the rules will eventually benefit them. They know that someday they will want to first pick a champion so they will defend someone else’s  right to do the same thing. If you still don’t believe me look at everyone’s adherence to the meta. Just try doing something out of the usual and you will quickly see how many people will tell you off for challenging that unwritten rule that the game most be played the way it has been played for the past year. My point is that players in LoL do follow some rules, written and unwritten, because they believe that doing so will get them that all important win.

If we run with the idea that LoL players are actually capable of willingly following rules that just leaves us with one play to make. Eliminate one of the undesirable rules governing champ select and you should be able to minimize some of the conflict that occurs there. Riot went with pick order and I support their reasons for doing so. You can read them here but, basically, they favored it because pick order happens naturally, it is already randomized, it doesn’t favor players with better internet connections, everyone gets a turn at first picking and it takes away the quick draw nature of having to call your role before someone else does. A rule needed to be endorsed, and pick order was the one that made the most sense.

This does not mean that there won’t be problems with this new endorsement. It will likely take a while for the news to spread around, and even then, you can bet that there will be people stubbornly sticking to their “but I called it,” logic. What an endorsement of pick order risks doing is making those individuals who will only play a certain position feel even more cornered than they already were. Unable to call the position they want, and with the rules now against them, we will probably see a reemergence of the, “I’m going to (this position) or I’ll screw you all over,” types of players. These players always existed, but they were able to hide their unwillingness to work with their teams behind the guise of “called it.”

The other potential problems are that Riot isn’t officially mandating pick order; they are simply endorsing it. Also, chat records from champ select are not sent to the Tribunal so there is actually no real way of holding someone accountable for being a jerk in champ select. I’m not as concerned with the endorse versus mandate issue. The meta isn’t enforced, and it is followed like gospel. What more concerns me is the fact that the lack of accountability in champ select could totally undermine the conflict resolution potential of this change. Even if my whole team is telling me I can’t go mid, because someone else first picked it, I might do it anyways if I realize there is really nothing recording the fact that I am creating a huge fight within my team.

On the whole, I am very happy happy that Riot made this change. It is clear that the LoL community is capable of following some rules, and this one was definitely needed. Champ select will remain one of the most volatile parts of this game, but I am thoroughly convinced that the endorsement of pick order over call order should help to take away one of the major points of champ select contention.

In a perfect world, this change should let teams focus more on figuring out what champs to take and how to use them together effectively. I doubt it will do all of that, but if it does encourage my teammates to defend my first picking a position I actually want to play, I will consider it a definite improvement. Let me know if you find more people rallying behind pick order, or if you remain frustrated by those who do not.

 

 

Pick Order Declared Official Champ Select Rule to Follow

Riot has finally done it. They have flat out, officially said that pick order trumps call order in the League of Legends crap shoot that is champ select.

Will this solve everything? Nope. Will I have more to say on this? You bet. For now, here is the link to the official announcement. If you plan on solo que’ing any time soon I strongly recommend you bookmark the living crap out of the link or at least give it a good read.

This bit from Riot Lyte talking about what’s wrong with champ select is also a valuable read. If you’re like me, however, it will definitely make you sad that so little has been done to address what is clearly an environment with a lot of potential for toxicity.

This announcement probably won’t save you from really determined trolls and ragers, at least not until the good word has been spread around a bit, but it will be worth it if it convinces even one of your teammates that you are in the right and encourages them to not give you grief.

Age of Empires II HD and Me

Just the other day I received quite the blast from the past. I had heard that a new, high definition version of Age of Empires II had hit Steam, and to be quite honest, I was in no rush to pick it up.  What always seems to happen when you are trying to convince yourself not to buy a game? You watch a friend play it, and it becomes all that you want and desire. Now that I been given it, I cannot really say that I find this SHINY NEW HD RELEASE to actually be that impressive, but it has led to my taking a second to think about how the Age of Empires franchise is responsible for who I am as a gamer.

Today, when a game attracts me I can usually give you a couple of quick reasons why it attracts me – except for League of Legends which has led me to simply believe I am a masochist. Back in 1997, a young 2hp did not really have the same motivations that this one does today. He didn’t have a set list of things that he looked for in games, so what was it that first got that crazy kid to play AoE? I had to think on this one for a second. Yes, I have always been a huge history nerd, and even then, I was well on my way to loving Greek and Roman history. This would have sealed the deal, but it was not my young self’s reason for first playing the game.

No, what got me into AoE was a friend of mine named Michael. Michael and I were an excellent pair for each other. He always had the latest and greatest video games and a strong desire to play them. I was rarely the first person to get games, but I was blessed (or cursed) with the ability to sit and watch others play, sometimes for hours on end. AoE had everything my young brain wanted. Ancient civilizations straight out of my history books fishing, farming and fighting for supremacy. There was so much cool stuff to do, so much cool stuff to see, and I would have never experienced any of it if it wasn’t for a friend taking the time to show it to me.

I had to wait a little while, but I soon followed in Michael’s footsteps and made AoE mine. I was found a delightful challenge in putting together an economy I did not always understand to kill units I knew just as little about. Interestingly, my love of this game actually helped drive my love of history. If there was something unfamiliar, or that I did not understand, I was quick to look it up. I am a compulsive reader of manuals and AoE was done in the golden age of manuals. To this day I contend that the AoE book contained more relevant history than my first year university classics textbook did – and that text probably cost me four times as much. The game play and the history helped make AoE amazing, but I do not think those things would have been enough, by themselves, to keep me playing it over and over again. What did that was the multiplayer.

Watching friends play was pretty ok; actually getting to play in the same game as them was absolutely mind blowing. We could chat about how the game was going, bask in awe at our amazing civilizations and share in the numerous humblings we received at the hands of the AI. Rarely did we fight each other. It was much more fun, and less likely to end friendships, if we teamed up to defeat our foes. Sometimes, this would even involve one person packing up and moving their civilization to start closer to the rest of us. Tactically, this was a very poor decision. To us young gamers, it provided us with a sense of security that can only come from surrounding yourself with friends – in a multiplayer game.

I would not say that the AoE multiplayer was overly ground breaking, but a game that was already accomplishing so much probably did not have to include multiplayer capability to sell copies. Look at the Total War franchise. They were built on the strength of all of the unique and cool things you could do by yourself. In 1997, AoE would likely have fit the same bill, but the folks over at Microsoft took the time to throw in the ability to play it with others (which was probably not as difficult as it would be for Total War games but bare with me). The combination of it being an amazing game and one that you could play with your friends made the two features synonymous in my head. For another game to be as good as Age of Empires was it needed to have multiplayer.

It was also around the time I started playing AoE that I think my parents realized they had a gamer on their hands. My parents have not always been super thrilled with my gaming, but they actually facilitated a great deal of my multiplayer shenanigans. My dad always had an old computer or two lying around that my friends could use. His work in I.T. ensured that we were among the first to embrace the internet and hook our computers into a LAN. When I had friends over, my parents gave up their computers, basement and sanity to allow three or four young boys to wage war for hours on end. When a friend who could not come over wanted to play, my parents would give up phone access for hours while my dad helped to enter in IP addresses until a dial-up connection with my friend was forged and games were underway.

In their own way, my parents were also helping to shape the way that I gamed. They knew that they couldn’t get their son to give it up entirely, so they made sure that at least he was getting some socialization out of it and was not so wrapped up in it that he had no time for friends. Thinking back to it, there is a pretty big chance that I could have turned out a lot worse for wear had my parents and AoE not teamed up to ensure that most of my gaming was done with friends. I will always be thankful to my parents for teaching me, possibly without their even thinking of it that way, that it was better to game with friends.

When AoE II arrived the first thing I remember doing was begging my good friend, Andrew, to come over and play it with me. My ulterior motive: to get him to buy the game so we could play it together.Good guy that he was, and remains, Andrew was quick to get the game and we were soon playing it together. My greatest accomplishments in AoE II were rarely done on my own. They almost always came from Andrew and I making some heroic last stand or developing some crazy strategy together. Despite all of the fancy new game play mechanics, graphics and history to explore it was still the opportunity to play the game with friends that brought me the greatest joy.

Today, the love of multiplayer games is very much alive in me. I would much rather watch League of Legends than solo que, but the minute a friend or two of mine comes online I am immediately good to play all night. Even in shooters I always look for games that have Co-op before all else. Left for Dead has become the standard by which I judge most shooters simply because I never have a better time than when I am killing zombies with some good friends. It is rare to find me staying in all night to game by myself, but I have been known to round up a group of people with the sole purpose of not leaving my basement until several games of Heroes of Might and Magic III have been played out. For a game to really keep me interested, or even just get me started, it must have some kind of decent multiplayer.

I admit I have only played a game or two of AoE II HD since I got it. The “changes” that they made to it were just enough to prevent people from accusing them of having not done anything to it. They were looking for some money and the way they decided to get it was through nostalgia. What I wasn’t expecting was that I could actually get more out of that nostalgia than actually playing the game. I look back on all of the hours I spent playing those games of AoE and AoE II, surrounded by friends and family, and I have no regrets. Nor can I be too mad at Microsoft for putting the game out there again. At the very least, it is now a lot easier to play online than it ever was before. Kids these days who complain about lag should have to try playing on a dial up connection. You do not know lag until you have done that.

I came into this article ready to badmouth AoE II HD and rip Microsoft a new one for what I viewed as being a shameless cash grab, but instead I want to end this piece by giving my thanks to both the game and the company that first made it, all those years ago. Without the Age of Empires series not only would I have not become the gamer I am today, I would not have become nearly as well rounded an individual. Playing AoE with others built me some of the strongest friendships I have, and my love of games like it continues to help me build friendships to this very day. I will always be glad that I would rather play games with friends than alone in my basement. Age of Empires and Age of Empires II convinced me that good games should always have a good multiplayer function, and that is something that I would gladly play a $20 re-release to be reminded of.

 

SPECIAL SHOUT OUT: I should probably stop making this sound like I bought AoE II HD when I was actually given my copy by my good friend, Shierra, who I now owe an even larger thank you to! If you’re not above a little profanity and general insanity with your gaming, you should check out his streaming adventures by going through his Twitter here. I can be a pretty awkward guy on stream, but Shierra has none of those problems. I am glad that our solid love of gaming, and occasionally drinking (Root beer) while gaming, has brought us much closer together.