League of Legends, and most competitive disciplines are close to being an art form in a sense. Players rise and fall in popularity and success as their careers develop, creating real stories that bleed through games and often surpass fiction. In the excellence of their performance, we can feel the player’s passion and share a connection with their emotions, as we would with our favorite song.
When it comes to art, soulless is one of the worst critiques that can be made of a piece. Lacking cohesion or purpose, incapable of provoking emotion and utterly bland. When the artist is not focused on communicating through his actions, it shows, and it sucks.
The League of Legends season 7 All-Star event was soulless.
It was looking to be a fun tournament, yet never once did the format encourages goofiness to manifest itself. In no mode was doing wacky or troll stuff ever rewarded or implemented by rules. If you lose, you are out. Because players usually enjoy playing at the event, if the system itself only rewards winning, some rules have to be put into place that promotes the games being fun on their own.
No one wants to look like a doofus on the international stage, and force his teammates out of the tournament, by going 0-16 with ADC Orianna against a real lane played by world-class players. If you take into account that these players will often, or may even be at the time, compete for a career opportunity, it becomes clear why.
Regardless, there is still the issue of whom is actually popular in the game, and it’s not always pro players. If you are looking to provide a fun event where the community gets to watch the players they love battling it out, and fun is your sole motive, why is there no role for streamers and personalities?
Streamers play an undeniably big role in the community, and many of them being ex-pros makes them tangentially related to the scene as well. It’s not by chance that the TCS was so immensely popular, personalities know how to entertain, that’s why people watch in the first place. Leaving them out only serves to maintain the illusion of All-Star being a real international competition, but this illusion is clearly just that.
All-Star was not an international competition by any stretch of the imagination. It happened during a patch that no one had seriously practiced, using teams that had neither synergy nor incentive to work on it and with nothing actually at stake. This, which was supposed to be the motor powering the fun element, actually made the games simply low quality and dull. Most players wanted to win enough that they would draft and play seriously, but not enough to practice for it.
Even the 1v1 tournament, which was my favorite part of the event and the only thing that came close to being a competition, was extremely flawed by principle. Allowing only two players to compete per team, and leaving out absolute contemporary beasts such as Jensen, Khan or Deft is no way to have dueling champion. It did carry some weight and some storyline meaning, mainly for Uzi, but barely enough to even be relevant.
Competition is about trying hard and building the legacy. When a tournament happens during players’ rest periods, it’s no wonder that the result fails to be compelling. On its own, both these identities are at a fundamental disagreement with each other. However, there is still another thing All-Star tried to do.
All-Star was not League of Legends’ World cup. I get the idea, and I really like it, of a competition where regions pull together their best talent and battle each other for glory. Like Rift Rivals, but meaningful.
Nevertheless, problems were apparent even before the tournament started. As outlined before, the fact that players had no time to build synergy or practice, already is enough of an issue to completely invalidate the whole premise. But it gets worse. Once you think about how the coach has no say on the team he coaches and is instead presented with an almost random set of players that are not guaranteed to even remotely complement each other.
If you have a very strong botside, you might not want Huni on your team, and would rather go for a low econ toplaner such as Odoamne or Hauntzer. Perhaps your jungler loves creating plays on his own and being aggressive on sidelanes, but if your midlaner is used to winning most matchups and pushing out, you are going to need someone that devotes attention to that instead.
Building star-stacked rosters is already difficult enough on its own, and teams like KT Rolster, OMG or TSM have struggled to make the pieces work together. If the selection of players is performed by the community, this problem can only be exacerbated. The average fan will not be able to match the game understanding of the average coaching staff.
Stacked on top of the previous ones, this problem absolutely invalidates the premise of All-Star being in any way, shape or form a League of Legends World cup.
Players are people too, and because All-Star is right after worlds, chances are most attending have been grinding for eleven straight months and are incredibly exhausted, making it that much more difficult for the event to be successful in its current state. The best chance for it is throwing every competitive element through the window, and just try to make it entertaining.
The time for the League of Legends community to reflect upon All-Star as a tournament and give feedback is now, before regular competition comes back. Is it fun or competitive? Should the community be exclusively in charge of deciding who gets to go? Do we even want to have an All-Star event?
Speak now, or forever snooze in front of your screen.
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Disclaimer: The following article was written freely based on the author's opinion, and it may not necessarily represent Inven Global's editorial stance.