After the LCS season ended, teams started to prepare for the next split or MSI Riot welcomed us with an cross regional tournament of League of Legends in Europe. The tournament many waited months for even a little chunk of information and created a tremendous amount of hype due to national rivalry and the resurrection of an old and familiar brand. The European masters were a success not to say the least, but what made the magic be so special about this tournament that we forgot that MSI was in range for a little while.
So these are the things we learned from the first edition of the European Masters.
Showcase of raw talent
The national leagues are often messy, have only national casting and very hard to follow if you are not the die-hard fan. So bringing the best of the best from each national league to faceoff on a cross regional tournament is the best way to showcase the new talent that often went off the radar for anyone not following closely the challenger ladder or as previously mentioned the national leagues. Kliktech Gaming is the best example for that. Coming straight from the qualifier to upsetting Origen in their comeback match into almost having a perfect streak coming into the playoffs. Some of the fans might know that a few of the players of Kliktech are subs for European LCS teams, but probably never seen they play or even a team from the Balkan region in action. And didn’t we have fun with their boldness and actually smart strategical play?
Spain’s national dominance - the skill difference between the national leagues
As most of the followers and die-hard scene followers expected Spain dominated the tournament. The biggest scene and the scene with the biggest investment to date, showcased why they attract so many talented players to their league. Mad Lions being the favorites to win the whole tournament was not a coincidence but a combination of their organized macro play but also being the winning team of the most relevant national league.
It is to say that this year showed once more that the French scene is a league to be reckoned with as Millenium and Gamersorigin came in strong and especially Gamers Origin showed growth during the tournament making them fan favourites to face off against Mad Lions in the finals, until both of them got upset in the semifinals. Definitely the most disappointed came from the German tournament ESLM as none of the teams managed to perform as expected and also being one of the major national leagues.
The timing of the tournament
European masters was a fun off-season tournament. Creating the perfect bridge between LCS finals and the well expected MSI tournament. It started with open qualifiers right after the LCS finals to slowly pick up the pace and hype through the community. It was perfect to keep the action going but the main action had time to reignite the hype for competitive league of legends. We could definitely use one more between Worlds and the upcoming 2019 Spring Split.
Since Riot eliminated the European challenger series and announced there would be a “champions league” inspired tournament it seemed at first sight there would be less excitement and investment. While the European masters is not the most lucrative for players and organizations, the challenger series wasn’t either optimal for both, the European masters is a fast tournament. The advantage is obvious fans are only needing to tune in to a shorter amount of time and the storylines are already hanging in there waiting to be picked up. Also due to the nature of the format, rivalries will be built and storylines will be set very quickly to keep it interesting. Like we all bought into the Origen hype, Kliktech made the upset and we all kept tuning in for the Kliktech games and follow them through their Cinderella story.
Froggen still carries - OLD GUARD
Watching Origen felt like this high school reunion events. You see some familiar faces that haven’t been on the spotlight for a while and it's fun to catch up with them and also watch them do well. And boy did Froggen play his heart out this tournament. Although we were very sceptical about Origen coming into the tournament, once again they not only showed why all the players in the roster have won many tournaments and have been relevant for so long, but also we learned once again how much lan and offline experience matters. The growth and groove coming along the way with Origen throughout the tournament was a question of time, but once they hit the LAN environment you clearly saw a difference in the game every team and player played. Where their world-class experience put them a good step ahead of all the other participants.
UK Casters man
I thought it was really refreshing to see some different English casters that often don’t have the chance to come into the spotlight. Definitely, one of the things that were a highlight for me personally was the overall production of the tournament. It was good to see a veteran like Excoundrel alongside our favorite Quickshot, but also seeing fellow youtube and content creator FoxDrop as a caster succeed. Not only were they being able to bring storylines and knowledge of the scenes having “national league locals” in the overall production, but we have to appreciate how in-depth their analysis often were.
Due to schedules and overall range of the production the LCS or other Riot Productions don’t have the capacity to breach more in-depth into the game specifics or even provide a deep analytical shoutcast so it is simple for everyone to understand while also providing the colorful topping for the twitter analysts out there. Having the European masters with a different cast and a clear different style was fun and refreshing from the usual business, showing that there is definitely place for more analytical and in-depth casting and production for the game.
What to keep in mind for the next edition of the European masters
Improve the qualifying systems
Some teams of the national leagues were claiming the problem that they couldn’t play the open qualifiers anymore due to already participating in a national league. This first edition it might have been a problem due to the fact that everything was very short-term and spontaneous from the communication side. But why shouldn’t we think about implementing gauntlet runs or a spot for the second place of that said tournament in the open qualifiers?
There is this possibility to nurture and activate more teams this way. It could be just too much work for it right now, but with further development of the system, it could definitely an interesting approach to even more incentive in playing the national leagues.
Promoting the tournament
Due to this years timing the European masters promo really got into the shadows of the whole LCS finals and playoffs coverage. Still how come this important tournament with so many people involved got not enough attention? It clearly can be improved and further explored also in future EU LCS broadcasts from segments to recap shows nurturing and increasing further interest in the most important division for the growth of the European talent base.
National League coverage
Another aspect that went pretty much in the dark the whole year is the national league coverage. National leagues were never really “backed” by Riot and also never really got too much attention in the past. However this is the first time Riot makes a huge event and really put more value to the whole structure they want to implement with the national leagues coming into 2019 and the beginning of europe’s franchising era. So we could either need english broadcast for those leagues, at least the best of matches or simply any kind of coverage. In Brazil Riot produces a show called “league news” where they recap all leagues around the world. It would be time we have anything of this sort for the english speaking market featuring also the national leagues. There is simply way too much to follow.
Lack of offline competition
The aspect that only the playoffs are played offline in both European Masters and the national leagues is a point to be explored in the future. We could clearly see the stage advantage from ex lcs veterans in the playoff stage of the European masters. It is definitely a huge investment as off right now, but the next step to go in order to really explore and develop the talent in those regions. Either through a mix of league and online tournaments or really establishing the scenes locally with arenas, internet cafes or a stage in general to play and start getting this experience.
What is the infrastructure actually?
To end this article, I have one question, one big question what is the competitive structure of Riot Games and LoL esports. There was an interesting twitter post by University Esports Spain about a presentation Riot gave at the Movistar Facilities.
It teases about the structure and the way to the top as we expect it in spain, with a clear indication that Riot plans on implementing the hierarchy of LCS being on top, then comes European masters, national leagues and some sort of college and amateur leagues or tournaments. Even if the post leads to some sort of “road map” it is definitely safe to say that until the next edition of the European Masters there should at least be a clear road map and structure presented to organizers and organizations. So they can invest or even continue to run their business. There is definitely a lack of information publicly if there is any information at all to the date of writing this article.
The European Masters were definitely a success for everyone involved. It was hyped, we’ve seen many familiar faces and had definitely some good entertainment value. All we expect now is that Riot isn’t satisfied with this brief short term success and continues developing and updating the public on the progress of their new structure for 2019.
(Photo Credit : ESL)
Disclaimer: The following article was written freely based on the author's opinion, and it may not necessarily represent Inven Global's editorial stance.
About the Author:
Hello guys, Alexandre Weber also known under the ID: DrPuppet. I'm a Brazilian professional Coach and content creator since 2015, mostly focused on League of Legends. I worked with many teams throughout the years in major and minor regions, but my most known work was with Kaos Latin Gamers from Chile in 2015, where we played the International Wildcard Finals against Pain Gaming. Since then I have been studying Cinema in Hamburg and creating content on youtube and twitch, besides writing for respected sites in Esports. You can find me on the social networks under @drpuppetlp and on Twitch under DrPuppet.
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