Posted by Derrick Ngo
“Welcome to Summoner’s Rift.”
I quickly stop by the dwarf carrying an obscene amount of weapons and gear, and buy myself a sword, a potion, and a nifty trinket. I admire the stonework around me, encrusted with blue gems and cut with clean edges. I venture forth onto the grass-and-dirt path, approaching first one, then a second large statue. They tower over me. I enter the brush at the far end of the grass path, waiting for what’s to come.
Minutes later, I am locked in a gruesome duel with my opponent, trading spells back and forth. My resources are draining rapidly, and I’ve already drank my potion.
“An enemy has been slain.”
League of Legends is a MOBA, which stands for Massive Online Battle Arena. This game has been around for six years, and I’ve played for about four of those. To say League is a hobby is an understatement; to say it’s an addiction is hyperbole. But League isn’t all just about the game – it’s also about the community it fosters.
When I’m meeting people for the first time, the inevitable question comes up: Do you play League? If the answer is yes, we then proceed into an hour long discussion about the game; what lane do you play, what do you think about the new Poppy, etc. Whilst having this heated conversation, others tune in for a brief second and ask, “Are you guys even speaking English?” League players have a very intimate connection with one another through the huge collection of jargon that the game introduces. Even the newbiest noob playing can talk about Ashe or Teemo. We all get a good laugh over failed Flashes, and we all revere Faker, arguably the best mid laner in the world.
Speaking of Faker, the League of Legends World Championship was not too long ago, around November 20th, and Faker was part of the winning team. This event is big. 36 million viewers big. 14 million concurrent viewers big. For comparison, the 2015 Women’s World Cup Finals for soccer had 26.7 million viewers. Korea had an Olympic-style opening ceremony for the event last year, complete with an Imagine Dragons performance. This year, to watch the best of five series, I went with a few friends to a Cinemark theater, like thousands of other people around the world. The whole theater was packed with people chanting “Faker, Faker, Faker”, and others shouting “TSM, TSM, TSM”, one of the North American favorites (even though TSM wasn’t playing that day). The opportunity to come together with a huge amount of people around the world to watch a game you enjoy is incredible.
Since League is a team game, you’re forced to bond with four other players each game, cooperating to reach that victory screen. When things don’t go your way, tempers are quick to heat. I recently entered into a couple of solo tournaments, where I was randomly placed with four other summoners, or players to form my team. The first team I played with was awful. Our team lacked communication and thus our gameplay suffered. The second tournament was much more prosperous. We won our first three games and lost to the eventual champions of the tournament. Even more fun than playing with strangers is playing with four friends.
Last month, I played in a tournament with four other McDermotts. We got completely trounced, having to play with a very odd team composition per competition rules. Nevertheless, we had a blast, talking to each other through a Skype call. Knowing your team can make things that much more fun. On more than one occasion, I’ve sat next to two or three of my buddies, chatting in real life while playing League together. We can rag on each other for missing skillshots, or congratulate each other for a good team fight, and after the game, whether we reach Victory or Defeat, we can have a good laugh and fist bump.