eSports Reporting, Or the Reason Why We Should Always Ask Questions

eSports is a new and exciting field. I imagine it must be somewhat like Alaska during the gold rush. Sure you had miners coming to try and get gold, but you also had anyone and everyone who even thought they could make a quick buck tagging along. The problem with this was that the gentleman who might have been serving as your doctor in a small town near the minefields might not have been the most qualified doctor in the field. I mean why would you give up a well established practice somewhere warm to venture out to a new frontier? Exactly, an established practitioner wouldn’t risk it. That is why you often would see “professionals” who were far from it.

The same phenomena can be seen in eSports journalism. Let me first say that there are some fantastic, first rate reporters and eSports news organizations out there. These folks may not be classically trained journalists but they came in with a passion and they have worked at their trade diligently – making a name for themselves in the process. On the other hand, you have many “journalists” who are anything but. Sure they like to write, and yes they occasionally stumble on to a story, but the quality of their pieces can leave a lot to be desired.

I guess what really astounds me isn’t so much that these articles struggle when held against a real journalistic standard. What really astounds me is how many people mindlessly believe what these articles are saying. Today I was on reddit, not exactly a hotspot for intellectual debate I will admit but still, and came across this article. It’s a bit of a long one, I’m sorry. If you’re a fan of pro League I promise it will at least entertain you. If you’re not a fan of pro league, but consider yourself any kind of writer or journalist, I challenge you to read through it and see if the way it is written doesn’t bother you. On top of the basic spelling and grammatical errors, which I won’t dwell on because I make them too, here are a few other things I noticed that set off my bullshit alert.

http://www.esportsheaven.com/articles/view/id/5150#.Uwfkw4VyFwn

Firstly, and this one is only valid for eSports followers, Richard Lewis isn’t exactly one of the most well established eSports writers out there. His name is not one we normally associate with inside stories on the League, or to my knowledge any, pro scene. I think this should give us reason to pause especially when combined with…

Second, the author never once even hints to us who his sources might be. It certainly sounds like he is talking to someone inside the organization, as he claims, but how inside are they? There are certainly hints that it might be someone who is currently feeling alienated from the organization, but there is no guarantee they are still with Vulcan or are privy to all of its inner workings.  An interview with an angry or upset employee on the outs makes for a great story but not necessarily something that is super accurate.

Finally, I can’t help but feel that the author is quite biased against Kenma and perhaps Vulcan as a whole. He uses words like “fiasco” to describe what the coach is creating and talks of Kenma’s “Gibberish.” This doesn’t sound like objective reporting. This sounds like a friend of Bloodwater’s who is trying to defend or avenge him. Or perhaps it sounds like someone who, as the author willingly admits, has already had a run in with the XDG owner, Alexander.

I’m not trying to be rude or disrespectful to Mr. Lewis. My problem is with all the people immediately taking this story to be gospel when there are clearly elements of it that should be cause for concern. Similiarly, I don’t think the story should be dismissed or the author boycotted or anything extreme like that. He is telling the story in a way that he views is appropriate and fits with his style of reporting. I am just pointing out that some of the things he does, like the way he labels and describes certain parties, can lead us to call into question his objectivity – something that many of us consider to be very important to being a journalist.

It’s kind of funny that the author appears to have released this next piece http://www.esportsheaven.com/articles/view/id/5148#.UwfssYVyFwm basically minutes after his XDG story was put out. I actually liked this “explanation” piece a lot better. He does a good job of explaining where himself and his organization are coming from and also discusses some of the pitfalls and troubles that you will face in the kind of reporting he is doing. He is never apologetic or dismissive of his own work. He just explains some of the troubles with writing on this subject. Does this change the fact that he writes like he is biased? Nope. Should it encourage you to stop questioning what he or any other scene reporter is writing? Nope.

Actually, does anyone else find it kind of strange that they released these two pieces, according to their timestamps, within minutes of each other? At the risk of sounding really paranoid, I would even almost contend that the pieces read like they were written by different people…but that’s just me stirring the pot a bit too much. 😉

Lewis ends his second piece by saying “So, as you can see, it’s a lot of effort and stress for not a lot of reward, far easier to “play ball” and put out the pre-approved pieces…But when you lash out at the reporters who are writing as much for you as they are for their own pay-cheque you only encourage a culture of silence occasionally punctured by slick PR.”

Fair enough, Mr. Lewis. It is good that you are telling the story, and until they outlaw freedom of speech and the press, I don’t think anyone should ever be unhappy with you for doing the writing you do. At the same time, until the day comes when eSports journalism is as syndicated as all other forms of journalism and even beyond that day, I don’t think people should ever let you have a free ride just because you are willing to write the “tough” stories. Even the most well established journalists in the world still have their personal integrity and the integrity of their pieces questioned on a regular basis. That is, as you say, “part of the rich tapestry of journalism as a whole.”

To my fellow eSports lovers, don’t be afraid to question what you read and hold writers like Mr. Lewis to the same standards you would hold any other reporter to. I don’t care how new the field is and how tough the stories are. If we want eSports reporting to continue to evolve and improve we need to continue to push the writers towards better standards of integrity and objectivity. That, my friends, is exactly how we continue to push the eSports that we love towards the mainstream and why we should always ask questions!

PS: As a PR practitioner myself I resent Mr. Lewis’ “slick PR” remark, but I understand why he made it. What is he is saying is that without journalists there would be no one to hold us PR folks accountable, regardless of the fact that most of what we say is even more thoroughly scrutinized by the public than what many journalists say. I would just like to remind Mr. Lewis that reporters can do the same crummy things that some crummy PR people do – especially in today’s media market with shrinking newsrooms and tight bottom lines threatening reporters. Both the media and PR practitioners should always be striving to reach a high level of public accountability. Neither side should ever get a free pass from that, or be viewed as any more “slick” than the other side.

 

Life Hacks for League of Legends: The First

morg

Life Hacks seem to be all over my newsfeed these days, so I thought that I should throw down a few of these for League of Legends. I might start small here, but if you have any ways that you make your games easier for yourself definitely share them below.

Playing in the top lane against a ranged opponent: Remember that time you picked Olaf, your opponent chose top lane Vayne and ran around shooting you for 20 minutes? Yeah, no one enjoys that. You won’t always see it coming, but when it does look like your enemy is going to be a ranged champion in the top lane I recommend running your own ranged champion. More than that, I recommend running something really hard hitting out of the mid lane.

Any time it looks like I’m about to go up against a Teemo or Kennen I respond with Annie. You can farm safely, poke your opponents even better than they can poke you, and blow them up when you hit six. Just remember to take some wards if your ranged top is bad at escaping from ganks.

Landing skill shots on your support: Having trouble hitting the enemy with your skill shots? An easy way to predict where your opponent will end up is by watching your own creep wave. When one of your minions is getting low in health it is basically guaranteed that your opponent will move to take a shot at them. This allows you to get some idea of where your opponent will move so you can have your Zyra snare waiting.

Dodging skill shots made easy: It’s late, you’re tired, you’ve had a few too many root beers and your opponent is picking a team made to slow or stun you forever. Easy, play Morgana. Morgana is one of the safest champions to play in League of Legends. A great Morgana needs to have amazing positioning, a tired and slightly out of it Morgana only needs to be able to cast her spell shield on herself and her W on minions. You won’t play great, but I promise you won’t hurt your team.

Hope you found at least one of those tips helpful. I’m always looking to come up with more and you can count on me sharing them with you when I do. In the meantime, if you have any great tips let me hear about them in the comments below.

The Delightful Duo Queue Experience

I was scanning through the League of Legends reddit, as I often do to see what’s happening, and I came across this gem.

Granted, the guy (who I’ve never heard of) makes all of the standard issue points on why you shouldn’t duo, and he makes them quite decently. The reason I dislike his video is that he is also introducing a strong level of blame towards the duo’ing pair as part of his presentation. Guys like him are the reason that when someone asks me if I’m duo’ing I rarely admit it.

After listening to this guy, without any other real knowledge on the subject, I think you can understand why people go out of their way to harass those of us who like to play the game with a friend. He presents a pretty compelling argument on how us duo queue’ers are essentially sentencing our teammates to a loss, dooming them to be outplayed by a superior opponent in every lane. And if you think people aren’t buying what this guy is saying…I found this on the front page of reddit. Clearly people are reading it and upvoting it.

There are definitely some flaws to his argument. If duoing is so inherently unfair then why does Riot still allow it to happen? Because statistics don’t always tell the story. When playing a position I am comfortable in I can beat players who are tiers above me. Consistently? No, but it’s not a forgone conclusion that I’m going to lose. Secondly, you really can’t deny that a good duo can make a difference. Those 5-0 bot lanes he scoffs at actually happen fairly frequently. Get a mid laner and a jungle who are talking on skype together and you can easily get a fed AP carry who can do the 2 v 5 he also believes is impossible.

Basically, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t take his arguments as absolute. I also don’t think you should be one of those arrogant duo queue’ers who believes everything that goes wrong in your game is your idiot teammate’s faults. Duo queues are, as far as we know, frequently placed against superior teams if another duo can’t be found for them to play against. Just keep that in mind before you flip out on your teammates.

The last problem I have with this whole scenario is the same one that I had with call versus pick order in champ select. Remember back when people had no idea whether or not you should get a position based on whether or not you were first to pick or if you shouted out first that you wanted it? Fights would break out in champ select because there was no real rule and everyone thought they were right. It was chaos until Riot came out and declared that pick order should be the rule.

Part of the reason duo queues get so much hate is because of all of this talk floating around about the fact that they “always pick last” and force their teammates to fight superior opponents, but no one can really confirm just how true this is. Sure bits and pieces of this information have come out in forums or on reddit, but Riot has never officially released a document stating exactly what happens when you duo queue. I understand that Riot wants to keep some of the mechanics somewhat secret, but doing this allows for the spread of the kind of misinformation and hate we currently see revolving around duo queuing.

I’m not saying that Riot clarifying pick order over call outs solved all the champ select problems, but it did help clarify the debate. People who were in the wrong did so knowing they were in the wrong and knowing that everyone else knew they were in the wrong. If Riot were to come out and release something officially outlining what duo queuing does it could create the same effect. Duo queues would enter the game knowing exactly how badly they were hurting or helping their team, and their teammates would know the same.

This kind of knowledge wouldn’t be a perfect solution. There would probably still be rage directed at duo queues and there would still be arrogant duo queues who are just as bad. My hope is that it would at least remove some of the blind hate directed on duo queues and some of the same blind hate duo queues direct at their teammates. If there is going to be rage at least let it be rage backed up by an admission from Riot that duo queuing is tough and unfair to your teammates.

Riot, stop letting gentlemen like the one in the video above be the “experts” on this issue. You may think his ranting is harmless, but with a lack of official information out there, I think you’ll find that his raving is quickly taken as gospel. And the kind of gospel he’s preaching is harmful to doing anything other than playing by yourself.