AFK But (Hopefully) Not Forgotten

Hey everyone. I’m fortunate enough to get to go camping for the next few days, and when I’m done playing Call of Duty I’ll be heading off to the mountains! (pauses for groans). Miss me yet? Well I can’t have that, so here is what I will do.

I’m a bit worried that I will miss the unveiling of Patch 4.0 while I’m out, but I am not so concerned that I want to do a writeup beforehand. Instead, let me provide you with a link that will take you to the tentative PBE patch notes. There will probably be a few more changes and a few that get left out, but it should give you some idea of what to expect. Some very interesting changes ahead for supports (Runic is gone!) and the items on the Twisted Treeline.

If knowledge isn’t what you want from me, and entertainment is what will make you remember my fondly as I trek through the wilderness, here are a few videos to keep you going until i get back. There is some swearing at the end of the first video, so turn down the volume a bit for it.

If you think some of the new champs are OP, check out what the old Twisted Fate could do.

And all of this would be meaningless without some Thresh

Now it’s time to go see if I can survive nature. Here’s hoping the bears aren’t quite as fast as Volibear. Maybe I can confuse them by shouting “STAHP, BM, STAHP.” I will let you know how it goes!

The Sportsification of Video Games (Repost)

I know a lot of people, myself included, have been very interested in the recent decision by US Immigration Services to consider the League Championship Series a professional sports league and consider its League of Legends players athletes.

Some of you were wondering what might come next. I think the article linked at the bottom of this piece, found at dpgatlaw.com, by David Philip Graham offers a (very) educated opinion on what kinds of things we might see. The article is a bit long and technical but well worth a read if this topic is something that interests you.

I am still convinced the debate doesn’t matter in the short term, but Mr. Graham shows how the athlete label could matter quite a bit if or when the US government decides to pursue it further.

http://dpgatlaw.com/2013/07/23/inviting-regulation-the-sportsification-of-video-games/

Are League of Legends Players Athletes? Why the Debate Doesn’t Matter

As I sat down to play League of Legends this evening I did so with no illusions. I knew I was going to lose some games, I knew I was going to have my patience tested and I knew that in no way does playing League of Legends make me an athlete, regardless of what a recent ruling by the US government might suggest.

In case you are one of the few gamers not discussing this recent turn of events, US Immigration Services recently declared that the League Championship Series (LCS) is a professional sports league. As a result, players who play in the LCS are now, for legal purposes, entering the US as athletes.

Gamers of all stripes, LoL fans or not, were all suitably interested in this ruling, and it became a huge topic of discussion and debate. A great deal of that debate, to my amusement, was focused around whether or not gamers (specifically LoL players) should be considered to be the same kind of athletes as the more traditional kinds like baseball players, football players etc.

Cases were presented that considered the amount of training done, the mental focus required and many of the other great attributes possessed by gamers. It was all pretty compelling stuff, but I wasn’t buying it. No, not because I was one of the many people who are happy to point out how non-physical gaming is, or how it’s an embarrassment to see fat nerds compare themselves to Michael Jordon (comments like this made me laugh). I just wasn’t convinced that this particular debate was at all relevant to the whole situation.

When a company like Riot Games decides to invest its time and money to try and get a government to do something it is because the company has a problem that needs to be solved. That problem is often related to business operations/profits; rarely is it about taking some kind of philosophical stand. So if Riot isn’t all about making gamers into athletes just for fun, what is this problem that I claim Riot is trying to solve? Well, as some of you know, the LoL World Championships have been hosted in the US each year since the game became big, roughly three years ago. This has been great for Riot, but there has been trouble getting some of the players from other nations into the country.

In order for an event like the World Championships to be successful it requires that Riot be able to ensure that it can get the top level talent from around the world into the US for the tournament. As Jonathan Rothwell, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, puts it, “Just think of how lame the US Open would be if Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal weren’t allowed to play.” Thankfully, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are allowed to enter the US by applying for visas reserved for athletes.

If Nadal, Federer and now LoL players are able to get the same athletic visas then what similarities do they have with each other? Many people have been debating this to death, but they are not working for US Immigration Services. What this particular branch of the US government is most concerned with examining is whether or not these “athletes” will be able to earn enough money to support themselves, playing their sport, while they are in the US. Nadal and Federer can, but can a professional League of Legends player? Riot might have had a tough time comparing the physical feats of its players to those being accomplished by Nadal or Federer, but when it comes to talking about money and making a living, Riot probably presented the government with a heck of a case.

For starters, the last major international LoL competition, the first ever LoL All-Star Game, drew 18 million unique viewers for the final day of competition alone. The next major international competition, the World Championships, will be held in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. On top of what is sure to be a huge number of online viewers (generating revenue through ad views) the Staples Center itself is likely to sell out its 18 000 seats. This doesn’t even take into account the revenue generated from the something like 32 million people who play LoL each month. When Riot Games is able to give $1 million to the winner of the upcoming World Championships, I think it is safe to say that Riot is not hurting for cash, and neither are the LCS players.

On top of the various sponsors who pay the LCS players to represent their brands, write guides and sign autographs, the manager of Team MRN has stated that each player receives $12 500 for playing in a LCS “split” (season) which lasts roughly half the year. More money is given to the manager of each team to help pay for the player’s accommodations, food, travel expenses etc. For Team MRN, this was an additional $25 000.

This manager has also indicated that Riot provides additional money when needed by the teams to take care of virtually any necessary costs that might arise over the course of the split. Even if these numbers are not precisely accurate, or the same for all of the teams, it is clear that Riot is committed to providing its LCS players with enough money to live comfortably while they are participating in the LCS – or at least US Immigration Services seems to think so.

So let’s go back to the “whole physical athlete or not” debate at hand and why it doesn’t matter. I think it’s not relevant because this whole ruling is focused around immigration law. I think it’s not relevant because, in the realm of immigration law, the major requirement for being considered an “athlete” is being able to make a living playing your sport. Can you make a living playing in the LCS? Yes, because it is already more profitable and attracts more viewers than many well established professional sports.

That was what mattered to US Immigration Services. The idea that players could make a living playing LoL, not whether or not the players in the LCS could throw touchdown passes like Tom Brady. In the debate over whether or not the LCS should be a professional sports league, and its players should be considered athletes, the only relevant arguments were fiscal.

There will still be a few people who are tempted to argue that because the US government says LoL players are athletes anyone who plays LoL is an athlete as well. For those of you who are tempted to pursue this line of argumentation just remember that the players who are technically considered to be “athletes” are the players who can make a living playing the game. I don’t know about most of you but I am certainly not one of the probably 50 something players in North America who can actually make a living playing LoL. In truth, this game has done nothing but cost me money. It would be fun to be considered an athlete, but I would not even fit the technical definition used by the US government which, again, has nothing to do with any kind of physical criteria.

What I think that no one can argue against is that this is truly a momentous achievement for eSports and gaming in general. It is very relevant that a major government has allowed people to enter its borders with the intent to make money playing video games. This is incredible, and something that we could only have dreamed about a decade ago. Let’s not waste our time debating whether or not those gamers are the same as other athletes. I think we all know that there are strong differences and similarities between people who play all kinds of games.

In the end, the only official similarity these athletes will share, for the time being, is that they are making a living playing their sport. What matters to me more than any official similarity is the idea that we now have a whole new group of people who can better chase their dreams, wherever that might lead them.

 

 

A Bit of Canadian LoL Pride

I am sure a lot of you saw the article on the University of British Columbia when you logged into League of Legends over the last day or two. In case you didn’t here it is once more.

I know there really is no point in going overboard with my Canadian pride, especially in League of Legends. If there is one thing that continuously surprises me it is the large amount of Canadians who play this game at pretty much every level. With that being said, it did stir a little something in my heart and I wanted to share the article and the UBC eSports Association’s Facebook page.

I certainly would have loved to have the opportunity to play LoL during my time at the University of Alberta. I may not have been brave enough to make it out to the events, I certainly steered clear of the Starcraft club (but I suck at SC), but even just the chance to go out and meet some other LoL players would have been great.

This is going to sound truly nerdy but I am also glad to see eSports on the rise in Canadian universities. My experience at the U of A taught me that university athletics and the athletes themselves get all kinds of funding and opportunities that the average non athletically gifted student (like myself) could never dream of, and I’m sure some of my American readers see the same thing happening down south.

I’m not saying that these men and women don’t work hard and earn every bit of what they are given. What I am saying is that I wish the same kind of chance would occasionally be given to those of us who can’t run fast or throw a football. Perhaps as eSports grows this might be the platform to give the rest of us some of that glory, some of that glamor formerly reserved only for the collegiate athlete.

So a big congratulations to UBC eSports and all of the other collegiate eSports organizations. Whether you are fielding challenger teams or just giving LoL players the chance to hang out and meet other players, I think the work you are doing is just awesome and deserves much bigger recognition than a casual once a year mention by Riot. I will try and make a better effort to follow your progress and get people watching some of your games in the future.

Also of interest to some of my readers, it appears UBC eSports is sponsored by Memory Express. How do we get some of that sponsorship, guys? He asked jokingly, knowing that the answer probably involves him gaining 500 elo and having more friends.

Coles Notes on Patch 3.9

In the heat of summer, with so much to do, I have to admit that yours truly hasn’t had time to do my usual patch preview writeup for Patch 3.9. Instead of leaving you hanging, my goal is to provide you with links to everything involved and some quick info on the biggest changes you will probably notice on the Rift because, let’s face it, it’s summer and you don’t want to spend an hour reading when you could be playing.

Patch Notes

Champ Changes

Corki: Mana costs on his rockets and Valkyrie going down. Will be playable someday. Probably needs another buff or two.

Draven: No longer has insane damage dealing passive. Now gains bonus gold per kill based on a few things he does. Neat idea. Can’t say I’ll miss that bonus damage. Should make him a bit less popular but his axes will still hurt.

Jayce: Acceleration Gate cooldown increased to a steady 16 seconds. Speed of non gated missiles increased. Core kit remains strong. Probably want to max W second instead of E now that it doesn’t change the cooldown. Keep playing this guy. Anything that can knock away Kennen is great.

Leblanc: If you play her be sure to check out all of her changes. A lot of tinkering going on here. Should still be strong in her niche role as a single target killing machine.

Nunu: Consume damage is being decreased along with his health per level. Consume nerf is hardest at lower levels. Will slow him down a bit but he should still be a counter jungling machine.

Shyvana: Brush up on her changes if you play her a bunch. Basically, they are trying to put more emphasis on using Flame Breath as your tool of choice for clearing your jungle and engaging other tanks.

Ziggs: Satchel Charge has a faster travel time, larger knock back distance and can be activated mid flight so it will go off immediately when it lands.

General Champ Notes

Champs that change form’s transformation ability no longer stacks your Tear of the Goddess.

Items

Tear of the Goddess now takes longer to stack.

The duration on Oracles Elixir has been reduced by one minute but you no longer lose it upon dying. This makes buying an Oracles a much safer investment. Expect to see a lot of junglers grabbing them early and more supports buying them in the mid game. If you are in a vision war bot lane it might be worth it to pick this up instead of sinking gold into pink wards that can be cleared by an Oracled up jungler.

Map Changes

The more you die the less you are worth. Now it takes longer to get down to the minimum worth and the minimum worth has been increased to 220 gold from 182. Most people don’t intend to feed but some people use certain champs, like Singed, to farm behind the enemy turrets until they are killed. Then they just keep doing this because they are worth no gold. This change is mostly to make that less worth it. If you’re looking for examples of this proxy farming, Druiddroid is the biggest offender who streams regularly.

General

Your summoner icon now appears on the load screen and your ping does not. Apparently some people were directing ping related hate at players with particularly nasty ping. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me, after all this is the community that probably hates you for showing up slowly more than they hate you for disconnecting. If it makes people’s game experience even a bit better then it’s probably worth it.

 

Ok, I think that covers the biggest changes. Hopefully when you log in tomorrow, assuming the servers are actually working haha, and go to play Draven you won’t find yourself wondering why your passive didn’t melt that Vayne, at level one.

All my negativity aside (I blame the heat) this should be an interesting patch. I would have liked to have seen a bit more done with Kennen and some of the other ranged top laners who have become so prevalent but I’d rather they get it right then rush it out now. Let me know if there’s anything in particular about this patch that you are enjoying or are really miffed by.

Thresh Syndra Synergy

As many of you know I am a total Threshaholic. I may not get to play him as much as I would like but that doesn’t stop me from finding awesome videos of him. Normally I’m not a fan of the word synergy, but it seems appropriate here. A little magical, a little mysterious, and definitely two champs working wonders together.

Pretty fun to watch. Probably not all that practical in a real game…

Man Dropping on their Dreams

I like to frequently post clips of awesome League of Legends plays for you guys, but it is kind of rare that I get to be part of said clip. Well this amazing Baron steal just so happens to be a) amazing and b) one of the voices screaming in the background just happens to be yours truly. So give it a watch. It’s proof that even us low level amateurs can make some incredible plays!