Showing posts with label Jodi McClure.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jodi McClure.. Show all posts

Friday, June 5, 2015

A FanZone GoodBye

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

Back in 2013, when the LCS first took steps to become the more polished and organized entity we know today, I created a blog called LCS FanGirls. For a year, it was just a place for me to post weekly game schedules and pictures of the pros, and, like the LCS itself, it was enjoyed by a very small handful of fans. If I saw even 50 views a week, I was surprised - and the site would likely have stayed that way if not for Snoopeh, Bjersen, and the Cutest Pro NA contest.

Snoopeh, the undisputed leader of said contest, retweeted one of my tweets about it, and he and Bjergsen joked about the results, and suddenly, my little fangirl site exploded with 50,000 views. I was a bit giddy that day, and not just over the numbers. It was the fact that Snoopeh and Bjerg had even responded to one of my tweets!

Determined to take advantage of the views that week, I started to write actual esports articles. While I was no journalist, I was a novelist, so it wasn't a hard jump for me to make. The views, of course, waned off after the contest hype, but I had gained a small new audience who stopped in weekly for the 'at-a-glance' schedules and standings and I was very happy with that. This new audience had opinions though, and the one that registered the most with me was that, in this mainly male dominated LCS scene, the 'fangirl' theme had to go.

So one year in, I redesigned the site. I changed the name (to LCS Central,) the logo, the layout, got rid of the pastel color theme, and added a question of the day and LCS fan art page. The weekly viewer numbers started to steadily grow and, in a bout of ambition near the start of Season 4, I reached out to the community to see if anyone would like to join me in writing. That initial inquiry brought me budding esports writers Joshua Kon, Jeremy Heimann, and Pieter 'antdriote' Cnudde, and together, we took our first unsure steps towards trying to create a 'real' esports news site. The views were still small...I think we averaged maybe 300 views a week then...but whenever we posted articles, we'd see a little spike. This also brought about my first attempt to post one of our articles to Reddit (which was immediately removed by a mod who cautioned that linking to a blog was a no-no.) I had a ton of LCS twitter friends though, and I was the only person at the time posting about esports on Google+, so we still found ways to get views.

A few months later we were joined by Andy "Bloodvayne' Del-Ray, and since he expressed interest doing interviews, I reached out to a few LCS pros. Sjokz was our first, followed by YoungBuck (whose response brought about several hours of our unrestrained joy on Skype) and Gambit's Darker, whose interview made the front page of r/LOL. That brought in an even larger audience and our views began to hoover around the 20k monthly mark. And that's when I started thinking the site could actually be something. I bought the FanZone domain name, moved the site, redesigned it again and made it a logo..and in June of 2014 I put out another request for writers. That brought me Chase Wassenar's LCS podcasts, Hussain Moosvi's brilliant analytics, Louis LeMeillet's awesome topics, Jerrod Steis' mega-successful support guides, Matt Lee's great writing and Reece "SabrewoIf" Dos-Santos' infamously prophetic weekly predictions. It also pushed us into the realm of 50k monthly views for a little while...but holding those numbers proved difficult in the long run.

Our weekly views jolted up and down so hard, our charts looked like something you'd find in a cardiac unit, and after half a year of trying to keep that beat from bottoming out, I ultimately failed. Because the fact is, FanZone was still a small site with a single owner who didn't have the money to put into its growth and promotion, and after too many months of dwindling numbers, the work it took to maintain it started to feel thankless. This depression worsened when, after multiple attempts, I couldn't even get a single response from Riot for media passes to cover MSI. At that point, between editing and making graphics and keeping all the schedules, results and standings updated, watching 20 games a week and trying to keep up-to-date on all the latest news on Reddit, etc, I started to resent the tax on my free time and ultimately, I stopped caring. There was a time when my passion for the games and players outweighed that time commitment, but lately, I haven't had the same passion for it, and I think the combination of those two problems has led me to this point. It's clear that right now I can't move forward and I don't care to go back, so FanZone, for now, is going to go into hibernation, and if at some future point, I find that passion again, we'll give it another try. 

In addition to the names above, thanks to Anel Musinovic, the only one of us who ever really mastered Reddit, Michael "Tribble" Godani and his extensive and relentless coverage of the LPL, my dear friend Sandie Gade, who snagged the first interview with Santorin after he was picked up by TSM, and excellent writers Ethan Akey, Kennan French, Tristan Jakobsen, Josh C. and Jeremiah Egbert. And again, thanks to Matt Lee and Reece Dos-Santos, who both handled a shit-ton of stuff for me when I wasn't around.

Everyone who contributed here was part of our family, and you guys all stuck around through thick and thin and I'll never be able to aptly express my gratitude. I've been damned lucky to have every one of you write for me!

Lastly, thanks to my beloved LCS twitter friends for your support through the years. This is a difficult field for amateur writers to break in to, and support can be pretty sparse for people who don't write for corporate sites, so you guys were the true stars! 

In the meantime, Twitter is home...and that's where I'll be. ;)

And now, because he's awesome, I leave you with an Andy'ism:

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Mid Season Invitational opens with a Dream Match

EU's Fnatic vs NA's Team SoloMid
(aka The battle of Koreans (and also some Europeans and North Americans)

Photo courtesy of Riot Esports

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

Opening the 2015 Mid-Season invitational with Fnatic vs TSM is an eSports promoter's wet dream, except instead of Kate Upton you've got Bjergsen and instead of Jennifer Lawrence you've got Huni. But the NA vs EU match up has always ignited viewer passions, and this one delivers in particularly grand fashion since both teams have enormous fan bases and some deep-rooted old school cred. 

Reddit's European fans tend to concede TSM is the stronger team this split, but they argue that in a Best of 1 round robin set up, it's entirely possible to beat a team who has a habit of dropping their first game in a series. And no one needs to be reminded of the last time TSM faced a European team (although if you squint your eyes, you can still see the bits of Unicorn sparkles sticking to their skin.) Hell, even if they lose, the EUs can still claim a win, since two of TSM's star players actually hail from a landmass vaguely attached to them. 

Bjergsen has been god-like in mid, but Febiven is mechanically sound and some would say he's not far from the Great Dane's skill-level. However, Bjergsen has a great deal of Santorin's support, whereas Reignover tends to hang with his top laner. Not that that's a bad thing, since a tilting Dyrus and snow-balling Huni could definitely be a key to a Fnatic win.  

Fnatic's carry, Steeelback, was the King of Fantasy League this season with most average points per game, but Turtle was only a single point behind him. Both also topped the charts in kills, although Turtle took nearly twice as many deaths, which is REALLY important when you consider how smart Yellowstar is at taking advantage of players out of position. It seems like this could be an epic match-up. One can't discount the Rekkles factor, though. Despite Steeelback's stellar performance this split, rumors are he's about to replaced, and that has to be an unpleasant weight on his shoulders. Whether or not this bitter pill will affect his work still remains to be seen.  

The new Fnatic has shown a lot of synergy though in their short time playing together, and I imagine they'll only get stronger with Yellowstar's outstanding guidance, but TSM are in their prime right now, performing as a single entity possessing of a hive mind. I'm sure that Locodoco has prepped his team thoroughly for this game, and he didn't win Coach of the Year for nothing! He's been a driving force in his team's success, whereas solid coaching is an area where Fnatic has been sorely lacking.

Not surprisingly, I believe, at least for this time around, NA will have the edge on bragging rights.  

(Shout out to Chase Wassenar for voicing all the intelligent sounding parts of this article.)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

LMQ : Gone with the Wind

By Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

The first time I ever heard about LMQ, it was through rumors that a third rate Chinese team was coming to America to compete in the belief that we'd be easy to beat. Never passing up the chance to be irritated by anti-NA sentiment, I was determined to hate this new team and hoped for their quick annihilation. From that point forward, their appearance in my twitter feed came in drips and drabs. "Did you see the Chinese team, LMQ?" "I hear they're really ripping it up in Challenger." "LMQ is beating everyone."

I remember the first time I saw their photo, around the time they had made it to the challenger series play-offs. They were, to me, four identical looking dark-haired strangers and one really goofy-looking tall dude. I didn't know their names and I didn't want to. I was annoyed that they were still here, threatening to take a seat in our LCS. It was stupid to have a fully Chinese team competing in an American league, especially since they didn't speak any English. My ego said it shouldn't be allowed, and I wasn't alone in that sentiment. Many fans voiced the same displeasure with their unwelcome presence, sure we would have no way to connect or bond to this team.  

When the Challenger play-offs started, I cheered against LMQ, but I still remember how their AD Carry, Vasilli, immediately stood out to me. Wildly aggressive, his 'balls deep' play style was one we didn't see much of in the LCS, and even though it initially almost removed his team from the playoffs, (I believe my first ever twitter post about the tilting Vasilli said something like "This guy must be on drugs") it made for some exciting moments. Fun moments. But somehow, despite their seemingly erratic play, they still advanced into the promotion series.

Just prior to the start of relegations, poor quality videos started popping up in my stream with titles like "Vasilli dancing shirtless," "Vasilli twerking," "Vasilli goes 1 v 5." Vasilli, I came to understand, was 'the tall guy,' and he was the first member of LMQ to whom I placed a face to a name. It was a name that would soon start to flood my stream as relegations started up, followed by words like "is a god," "is a beast," and "is a one man army." His crazy dodge mechanics and man-mode like destruction lit up the twitterverse, and while I still didn't like the Chinese team, I had to admit, that tall guy was amusing. 

After they unseated the struggling XDG, I started to learn a bit more about LMQ as a team. Riot offered us subtitled interviews between clips of the boys playing and laughing in a pool, but the light-hearted team introduction did little to sway my opinion. They were still strangers and invaders, playing in a league where they didn't belong  - although, I could now finally place another face, the good-natured, chubby-cheeked XiaoWeiXiao (a guy I mentally dubbed the Chinese version of Scarra).

Vasilli's name popped up a lot in the first few weeks after LMQ's 4-0 entrance into the LCS, mainly as everyone's fantasy pick. To me, they were the bad guys in every match; the LCS Dallas Cowboys, so the best part of those early days was discovering they were beatable. Perhaps not by my beloved TSM, but hey, at least Cloud 9 and Curse had their number. In retrospect, I think it was knowing they could lose that started to make them more human to me. They were, as a team, graceful and modest in defeat, and they all exhibited a certain shy humility that made them feel less threatening, despite the fact that they were starting to place a grip-lock hold on first place.

Over time, I started to learn all their names and recognize their faces, as well as pick up on their individual personalities and playstyles. Little things like Mor's tiny smirk when he made a great play or Ackerman's uncanny ability to appear out of nowhere and turn the tides of fights, plus NoNames' solo queue chat logs were downright hysterical and XiaoWeiXiao's unending smile tried to chisel away at my shell. But unfortunately, their interviews felt like long, boring, drawn-out Chinese babble, (made only slightly more bearable by the presence of their endearing manager, Sharon) and I still bore malice towards this foreign team.

It was Vasilli who started to change that for me in July of 2014, when he started to show up in videos speaking adorable broken English. Something in his cute ducking, blushing face spoke of a guy who was trying his hardest to assimilate, and for whatever reason, that mattered. Because suddenly they weren't a Chinese team that was only here to beat us, they were now a "slowly getting Americanized" team that wanted to be part of us, and as much as I wanted to continue disliking LMQ, I couldn't.

Impressive and precious as Vasilli was, I still resisted cheering for LMQ over any other team, mainly because they kept beating all my favorites. Allowing Vasilli to have Tristana was to ensure your team's deletion, and he consistently displayed both the mechanics and the guts to mop up the floor in teamfights. Quadras and Pentas peppered his game stats, and he dared to walk in and steal a baron from TSM in the middle of the summer Semi-Finals.   

Just prior to the LMQ vs Curse game in playoffs, there was a Riot made video speaking of what getting to Worlds would mean to each team, and Vasilli's eye watered as he spoke of wanting to play just one more match with his team. That tear was like a cannon ball, plowing through what remained of my anti-LMQ feelings, and for the first time in my life, after seeing that interview, I found myself actually pulling for these Chinese kids, wanting them to make it into Worlds.

I remember having lunch with my mom before LMQ's last game at Worlds, trying to relate to her the story of this Chinese team and how I started out hating them but came to love them. Maybe it's fair, maybe it's not, but LMQ had to work incredibly hard to earn their place...not in the NA LCS, but in our hearts, and they really deserved it all along. They never once complained, and despite their management hardships, they always remained positive with a pleasant disposition.

When LMQ played at Worlds, I didn't see them as a Chinese team or even a foreign team. I saw them as OUR LMQ, our beloved friends, playing for America and the NA LCS, and I was proud to have them there alongside Cloud9 and TSM as one of our representatives, because there was no question in my mind they belonged there.

So the other day when I read that Vasilli was leaving, I felt a bit like Scarlet O'hara...because I don't want him to leave and I regret not having fully appreciated him while we had him, and I lament falling in love with him far too late. Part of me hopes we'll see him again here in the states, and part of me knows we probably never will, but I'll treasure the fact that I had the opportunity to be charmed and won over by some adorable guy from China.

Oh God! Wait...Vasilli...WAIT!  VASILLI...Please! COME BACK! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

NA LCS Expansion Tournament Preview

by Jodi McClure

If you've been suffering withdrawal from the NA LCS, relief is just around the corner. Starting today, NA challenger teams and the top seven finishers on the NA Ranked 5s ladder will be battling it out to occupy the two open slots in the new Ten Team LCS. Both veterans and unknowns alike will be competing during this weekends' Round 1 - which will be a Best of 3 Single Elimination series.

The tournament kicks off at 2:00pm est (7:00pm GMT) with a pretty even match-up between two middle-of-the-pack teams, Zenith eSports and Final Five. Final Five has some really good players, including LCS veteran, Rhux, but pseudo-newcomers Zenith managed to beat a strong Team 8 in the Black Monster Cup. Analysts seem to be giving the slight edge to Zenith, and if karma has anything to say about it, they'll be right. Not taking away from the rest of the team, but Final Five's AD Carry, Prototype White (aka Prototype Black), was a very toxic player and he doesn't deserve to win.

Today's second match-up is between the familiar down-home roster of compLexity White and relative unknowns, Monstar Kittenz. White is coL's ladder team offering, with a line-up full of recognizable names like Westrice, goldenglue and Kez, but there's a reason why these guys aren't still on their old teams. They were all underwhelming performance-wise (and lately getting stomped in ranked 5s) but they still have confidence and experience, and that alone could help them defeat the underdog Kittenz. Plus, Lohpally is a good shotcaller in the late game, and (unlike Black) they've got the added bonus of a coaching staff backing them up. Kittenz, unfortunately, have to sub out their top laner due to age, however...I wouldn't discount them altogether. They aren't a bad team, having placed 8th on the Ranked 5s ladder - and they certainly aren't the worst this tournament has to offer. White definitely needs to show up.

The final match-up of the evening is perhaps the most lop-sided of today's offerings. Fan favorite, Team Coast, who recently added EU pros Jesiz and Impaler to their roster, is by far the stronger team than their competitors, UCLA's Call Gaming, who barely made it into the tournament as it was. Even though Coast has been a little hit or miss as of late, this should be an easy 2-0 for them.

While not in the LCS studios, the tournament will be streamed live over with shoutcaster teams Zirene and PiraTechnics and EGAD and Azumoh. The Tournament Bracket graphic and a listing of the Team Rosters can be found here.

The tournament continues on Sunday with three more match-ups, including a team that's received more buzz than any of the others. Be sure to keep an eye on LCS FanZone this evening for Sunday's Expansion Tournament preview!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NA LCS Puzzle Time!

*Stumped? Scroll down for the answers!

Our bespectacled players are:
1. Quas
2. Seraph
3. Imaqtpie
4. Meteos
5. XaoiWeiXaoi
6. Hai
7. Dyrus
8. LemonNation
9. Sneaky

10. WildTurtle

Monday, June 16, 2014

Esports Memorabilia : The HOT Collectible of the Future.

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

Collectors love to imagine a magical scenario where they can go back in time and buy some incredibly rare piece of memorabilia. Baseball card enthusiasts might seek out an original Honus Wagner card. Football fans might purchase an original team jersey or a banner. Star Wars fans would ransack toy stores, buying out Luke Skywalker figures, mint and still in the box. And then, all these collectors would do something extremely important with those items, but I'll get to that in a minute. 

First, let's jump forward in time instead.

It's 2054, and a gray-haired man is sitting in a rocking chair outside his nursing home. Between his stiff, gnarled fingers, he clutches the gilded edges of a framed poster. To his side, his great grandchild stares through the glass in wonder. "It was signed by Reginald," the child says, his voice filled with the kind of reverence we reserve for uttering names like Ruth and DiMaggio. 

"I got that a week before he announced his retirement." The old man smiles at the memory. "It's worth half a million now, and I'm giving it to you." 

Lucky kid. 

Some people buy collectibles as an investment while others buy them for the pleasure of displaying them in their homes. Their value is based purely on what someone else is willing to pay for them, but generally, the rarer and more sought after the item is, the more it is worth. So what makes me think eSports memorabilia will grow in value? Let's take a look at some facts:

1. eSports' popularity is growing at a fantastic rate, and the more fans there are, the more demand there will be for fan items. When eSports explodes into the mainstream, demand for certain items (like early signed posters) will multiply tenfold. Also, the more popular pros become, the less interactive they can be with their fans, which will further limit supply.   

2. Right now, teams are small and there's not many of them. Rosters frequently change and evolve, making many team-signed items extremely unique. Seasons and splits further break up items (Like...Is it signed by the S3 Dignitas or the S4 Dignitas?) Because of player turnovers, oddities like a TSM poster showing Xpecial - but signed by Gleeb - are exactly the kinds of things that collectors love.

3. People wanting memorabilia of the most popular players will look to acquire their signatures on anything they can get. Players signed a TON of stuff the past four years, between the LCS, tournaments, conventions and personal appearances, so fans will believe these items to be obtainable and actively seek them out. Just like in other sports, a collector might want items from different points in a player's career. Perhaps a rookie card or a stand-out year.   

4. We already know the demographic that follows eSports has money to burn, and they are highly passionate about their teams. When eSports hits the mainstream, they're exactly the kind of guys who'll spend big bucks on these items JUST to have something to show off to their friends. It's not enough to tell all these new fans that you've been a long time CLG supporter. You've got to prove your devotion.

5. Sports memorabilia is the Number One most commonly traded collectible.  

The most important factor, though, is that human fault will be in play, and it's the reason certain items will become ridiculously valuable. Yes, players signed tons of stuff. But what will the average person do with that stuff? They'll take that poster home and stick it up on the wall in their computer room with a  push pin in each corner. And that poster will sit up there for years. Slowly, the paper will grow brittle and crack. Perhaps one corner will tear. The poster will be exposed to dust, smoke, and moisture, and over time it will yellow slightly. It may become creased. It may be folded. It stowed away in a box and eaten up by mildew. Only a sparse few of those posters will be put in a frame under glass. And those are the ones that will be truly worth the big bucks. 

That Honus Wagner card our collectors went back in time for? That football jersey and the Star Wars figures? They're gonna treat those with kid gloves, ensuring that they are kept in immaculate condition until the future comes. They'll be framed or kept in dust free mylar bags, and they will never see a push pin or a damp basement.

So take care of your eSports memorabilia if you're lucky enough to get it. Time and interest will do the rest. Even now you can do a search on ebay and find people selling signed posters and other eSports items, which is a very good indicator that the interest is already there. Keep it in mint condition for a few dozen years and who knows...maybe someday you'll be that wealthy gray-haired old man!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Marketing & Esports : A Future Fairy Tale?

by Louis "Guichex" Lemeillet

Esports teams do basic marketing, but do they have the future in mind? Esports is gaining in popularity, with a viewership boasting over 70 million people. Gaming structures are faced with a swiftly-growing market and need to adapt very quickly, and that requires planning out their future.

Esports has huge potential because it represents a bridge between traditional sports and high technology. Moreover, a new game-breaking technology is on the verge of being achieved and commercialized and it brings new stakes both for high-tech industries and Esports.

To Infinity and Beyond

Across social media, we've seen teams offer merchandise like clothing and accessories, do giveaways for sponsors, and even participate in commercials. Tech companies and electronics conventions like CES are showing the world what could be the next big step concerning technology and computers. After bringing smartphones and tablets, it is time to bring something which could revolutionize our habits once again: flexible computers.

You can see manufacturers such as Samsung and LG talking about flexible phones like this one and praising their merits. It is a cool innovation, but the best part will come just a bit later. What can you do with a flexible screen and components? You can twist it at will and include it in objects you couldn't before like glasses, clothing and wristbands. With it, you reach the full potential of this new technology. Wearable computers. If you're curious enough, you can see plenty of stuff about Apple having some “secret facility” working on the new iWatch which will basically do what your smartphone is doing: email, music, agenda, etc. You also have Google Glass which does the same but with a little bit more virtual reality included. Maybe the next step is a Wi-Fi hat with a screen inside it. The possibilities are infinite.

Of course, not all of these technologies are available to the masses yet, but Esports is also not fully developed yet. And we can assume that, in some way, those two worlds will reach a new point at almost the same time, creating so many new possibilities for tech companies to advertise their new products.

One of the most effective marketing techniques at the moment is using brand ambassadors: whether they are movie stars, famous bloggers, or from a rich dynasty. It doesn't matter as long as they can wear or consume your products and give a good review; promoting them in whatever way possible. This kind of marketing relationship can bring very good image to the company if their values and personality are matching those of the ambassador. It is also long-lasting and so can bring a lot of profits to both parts.

A Bridge Between Esports and High-Technology

Where is the link with Esports ? Our favorite e-athletes can't really hope for sports companies to support them since they are not committed to any true physical effort; and they don't really need sportswear. What pro-players use daily is top-notch gaming devices which can help them reach a better performance. Nevertheless, they are considered, at least for the moment in some regions, as professional athletes and bring entertainment to millions of people who are also hardcore users of computers, gaming devices and every kind of technology.

Since that audience is most likely to adopt these new products, we represent, as Esports lovers, a great target for those companies. With the rise of Esports, they might have found the faces of the ones who will represent their company on the field.

If we project ourselves three or four years into the future, I truly believe Esports will have grown a lot more and every company will be taking a closer look at "this new thing.” Also, tech industries will release the first projects of their new “flexible devices” and they will want to boast them as much as possible. Trying to sign sponsorship contracts with some great multi-gaming company can bring fame and profits to both parts.

As a matter of fact, you can see that in Korea, where Esports is kind of a national thing, it is technology companies which sponsor the teams: SK Telecom and Samsung among others. I think at some point in the future, when Esports are acknowledged by everyone, we might see the same deal in our occidental countries. Imagine “Google Solo Mid” vs “Microsoft Cloud 9”. (I really hope we won't have those team names though.)

Whether or not Google and Apple would buy pro-gaming teams is a different matter. But what we can be sure of is: Esports powerhouses will be sponsored by one specific brand and they'll build long-lasting relationships by advertising their new products on the players while obtaining fame from the team results, in exchange for money.

Beware of Fairy Tales

Bringing tech companies, which represent a lot of devices every one of us is using on a daily basis and which represent what kids will consider “normal” in a near future, can bring further fame and importance to the Esports world. If you mix this with the “international future” of Esports, and by that I mean that they are shared worldwide and not only popular in one region, it could become something bigger we could ever imagine.

I may be over-reacting, but I think bringing such companies into the Esports market will at least bring our virtual sports onto the same level as big traditional sports such as soccer, football or baseball. Traditional sports will have sports companies more than Esports, but Esports can claim sponsorships from bigger companies. Such deals would bring further development to the Esports world and help gaming structures improve their infrastructures, their team salaries, their staff and their power.

On the other hand, such deals can bring tons of money to a quite new sector, and with it some disappointments. With an industry growing that fast and that big, everyone is playing with the balance between investments and rewards. For the moment, gaming structures are trying to court any advertising possible to upgrade their financial possibilities, but many problems could come arise from that. For example, you can see with the last Dr. Pepper marketing campaign with the European LCS teams, that they're selecting only one player to represent them, and not the whole team. So where does the money go? Towards the team or towards the player?

Lots of teams might try to take advantage of their players by “selling” them to whichever company offers money while not paying attention to the overall image of the person. Or players' egos might get in the way as they want to claim part of the money for their own personal benefit. Such moves would potentially slow down the industry as a whole and discourage big companies from investing as they could.

Esports is growing at an explosive rate. Technology companies are on the brink of unveiling cool, innovative stuff. This may be destiny. The two industries will find a lot of common interest if they manage to create sponsorship contracts. The most important part of all this being: the first to hit is the first to win. Pro-gaming structures need to be aware of that fact, and need to decide on a precise marketing strategy oriented towards the future.

What are your feelings towards all of this ? Do you also think sponsorships between high-tech industries and pro-gaming structures might exist someday ? Feel free to leave your comments, everything is open to discussion! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Evolution of the Meta

by Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis

So let’s talk about how the meta has evolved from the “standard” lane match-ups. We've seen a huge change from what we started with. The game has grown into a much more strategic, albeit predictable early phase until mid game. This is actually really limiting picks in some aspects. We’re going to look at everything from mid S3 until the most recent popular strategies. Following that I’ll give a bit of an opinion on each.

Originally, the pro scene followed what is usually seen in solo-queue. Top laners and bottom laners matching up against each other. The strengths of this rely almost solely on your ability to lane. If you had a strong lane ability you loved it, if you lost lane every game you were screwed. If we go way back, sustain lanes were really popular. They were safe and let teams focus on farming and getting champs that needed farm to their insane late game status. In this meta we saw the likes of Anivia, Ryze, Jax, Singed, Tristana and Vayne. All of these champs had insane late game scaling.

In the jungle and support, however, we had the exact opposite. In order to try and counter these champs you had to strike early and hard. Lee sin, Xin Zhao, and Jarvan IV were popular at the time. They could gank easily level 2, which was so popular it became routine to do. They hit lanes early and gave their laner an advantage that they could use to snowball faster and once one of the lanes got ahead they were usually able to take control and bully the other lanes out.

If we look at bottom lane synergy, we had supports who were usually champs with great utility and bad scaling, i.e. Sona, Thresh, Lulu (who had bad scaling at the time), Alistar. These champs had great base damage skills and little to no ability to scale. They were used to protect the late game scaling ADC. Late game these guys usually turned into CC bots, and because there were no support specific items at this time they usually built cheap tanky items that had some kind of active in order to help their team. And wards. Pretty much all of their income was spent on wards.


So what are the pros and cons of this meta? Let's look at a few different areas of it. The game usually started off with everyone going to their respective lanes. We had actual match-ups, and in-lane play was extremely important. Your ability to duel was key and usually determined how far ahead you were or how much you had to come back from. This was great for rewarding you, but it was a bit too steep, to the point that any small advantage you gave was almost impossible to come back from - and don't even start on a successful invade and what that would give you. 

Next, the meta was very team fight oriented. This made awesome dragon fights, and a lot of strategy focused around forcing the enemy into fighting for objectives. There seemed to be a lot of strategic positioning that had to be done here to compete.

Finally, late game saw some awesome plays because we saw a clear transition from early game power champs to champs that scale. We saw huge emphasis on protecting carries like Vayne and Tristana. This basically meant late game was a test of who could kill the other team's ADC first. ADC was the end-all be-all once they had two or three items and they became almost impossible to stop. For an ADC main, this was awesome. Anyone that played a tank usually hated this and teams came up with two ways to fight this. Assassins, and early-engage burst supports. Enter late Season 3 and Worlds.


When we got to later in Season 3 we saw a huge change in the picks of support and mid lane. Zed and Ahri were hotly contested picks because of their ability to bypass bulky tanks and deal huge burst damage to ADCs. Supports started swapping as well. From motherly protection supports that healed and buffed ADCs until they got items, to engage heavy CC machines that punished the enemy at any wrong step. This brought a more action packed early game as we saw kill lanes become the norm. Leona, Annie, and Thresh were the holy trio of supports all through Worlds.

A small note to make as well is that the increase in aggressive laning and assassins forced ADC players on to more mobile carries. This, in addition to buffs to Trinity Force, made Ezreal and Corki go-to picks. They had reliable abilities to reposition themselves and could still put out damage while they moved. All throughout this time the top lane meta shifted marginally. Jax and Singed were still notable picks with more late game carry types being favored over tanks, but this change was much more gradual.

Now let's look at the game health at this time. In my opinion, the most notable thing of this meta was the power assassins and ADCs. The mid to late game team fights still revolved around killing the other team's carry, but now it was all about bursting them down before a fight really broke out or when they moved to a favorable position. Battles were won and lost based on single missteps. Even some supports had potential to knock people out of fights. This combined with how wards and gold income worked. As soon as a team got first blood or first dragon it was transitioned into complete vision control and instant burst kills on any team member that attempted to get it back.

Teams that knew how to play aggressive early waltzed over traditional late game teams. While games could last over forty minutes, you could easily see who was going to win as early as ten minutes in. Unless the team made massive mistakes, they just had to sit on their lead as soon as they earned it. Riot realized they had a lot of changes to make during the off-season.

Offseason/Vision Changes

Off-season started after Worlds ended, and Riot decided to take this time to make sweeping changes to vision and supports, as well as take a hit on the amount of damage ADCs could put out. Ever since it became part of the meta to have a player that relied on no definite gold income, they were immediately relegated to spending almost any money they earned on warding the map. Support was basically ward duty with some CC protection late game. Sightstone was a welcome change, but that alone wasn't enough. As long as it was possible, teams would funnel all warding onto whoever functioned best with little to no gold (read support).
Finally we get huge vision changes. Each champion can now only have up to three regular wards on the map at one time and one pink ward. Pink wards were no longer stealthed and took five hits to take out as opposed to three. Oracle's also was removed from the game. Riot just had no way to balance it. If they made it last until death, supports just played a bit safer or bought an extra one with their money. If it lasted for a specified amount of time they just fell straight back to buying an extra. With Oracle's in the game, there was no way to keep one team from completely controlling vision and, consequently, the game.

With this change, they also gave every summoner a specified slot for a trinket which was free and could be swapped at any point invoking a cooldown on the activated ability. The three trinkets made vision a bit easier for the team to spread out. There was no point in not using a free ward when it was up. This is huge because it was an indirect nerf to early gankers and assassins. Everyone had the ability to protect themselves now with some extra vision. Junglers were forced to stay in the jungle for a little longer, as was the intention. Masteries were also reworked to make penetration and other offensive-oriented abilities much further down the tree and considerably weaker, and defense got huge buffs.

Tower Pushing

For a little while things worked out as intended. Soon enough though players realized that with extra safety, they could play more aggressive. The best person to funnel gold into was still the ADC because they had more item dependency than any other position, and teams realized that with champions that could push early the best way to get a big spike of gold was to take towers fast.

What's the best way to shove? Run your ADC and support into the tanky melee champ that has no way to take on a ranged character at the start of the game. It forced them to try and get as much farm and experience under the tower as they could while trying not to die. The teams that prepared best for this had a top laner that was innately tanky with the new masteries, and could either sustain a lot of harass or clear waves quickly at early levels. Shyvana, Renekton and Dr. Mundo topped this list because of AoE damage early on and the ability to put out damage without building a lot of damage items. Sunfire Cape and Spirit Visage were extremely gold-efficient items that were key on these champs and were almost always first and second buys. Since hyper-tanks gained popularity, a new champ grew with them as well. Trundle.

Trundle has a kit that is made to counter tanks. Rushing a Blade of the Ruined King on him made his increased attack speed from his Frozen Domain insanely good at shredding HP-stacking top laners. Throw this on top of his Ultimate skill, Subjugate, which stole a percentage of health, armor and magic resist, and you had a perfect tank-buster to counter and split push any hyper-tank.
Riot saw the huge strength in the two previously mentioned items and nerfed them appropriately. Sunfire Cape had its passive scale with level rather than do a flat amount of damage, weakening its power spike when bought, and Spirit Visage had part of its cooldown reduction taken off and its price was increased. Sunfire fell out of favor in exchange for Randuin's Omen, and Spirit Visage became the niche item it was supposed to be on people who had a lot of self heal.

Mid lane saw new picks as well, since vision was no longer dominated by who was ahead. Players had to dominate the map rather than their opponent in order to get vision. Champs like Nidalee and Ziggs started seeing more play now. They used their immense range and damage to control minion waves and force the enemy away from objectives. Anyone who was seen making a rotation was poked out as they roamed.

Junglers realized that the only actual gank that was open because of the lane swaps was mid. Mid laners started warding harder and just generally playing safer. Jungling didn't gain enough gold to warrant just trying to farm, so the next best decision was to join their ADC and support and force the other team’s tower down as fast as possible. Eventually, the top laners joined in on this as well. They'd force down two towers and then back off.

After this, the top laner would go back to the lane that was shoved and freeze the wave while they caught up, after giving up their farm to shove. This stagnated the game for about 10 minutes or so and the team that had stayed bot lane would usually get a free dragon at this time. It’s important to note that dragon’s gold value was changed from a static value to a growing value as the game progressed, relative to the average level of each player. So an early dragon’s value dropped significantly from its previous value, but it was still worth grabbing.

Carry Top Laners

Riot attempted to fix the lane swaps that were happening at the pro level. In fact, they were only happening at the pro level. They gave buffs to the defenses of the top turrets. This is the first time that they really enforced a meta. Before they had always claimed that any team strategy was viable and never claimed that one way was the correct way to play. But this was a direct attempt to force ADCs back into the bottom lane. It took Riot a few patches before they were able to get a number that they were comfortable with. Even now it’s pretty easy to say that they were unsuccessful in their attempts to fix the problem because while they may have stopped fast pushes on towers, teams still lane swap almost every game.

Since lanes were getting frozen deep in enemy territory, champions had the ability to free farm for an extended time. Any team that tried to still pressure that deep into their enemies lane would be promptly taken out as soon as they showed themselves. This was actually the end of Dr.Mundo as a meta champion. He was played mostly because of his decent wave clear and ability to scale off the strength of the strong items of the time. With nerfs to his items and the strength of his early wave clear no longer needed, he faded out of picks.

Since top laners could free farm for a long time, top lane players started picking up champions that scaled well with gold. Shyvana still worked well, but some new picks were Jax, Ryze, etc. Defensive masteries were still substantial at this point, so anyone who could put at least nine points into defense was strong. Plus, getting free farm to scale meant later on in the game they’d be more impactful in objective fights. Also, mobility was usually a must on these champs to get in and get out of sticky situations.

Summoner Spell Changes

Amidst all of this, the summoner spell Heal was bolstered to give more health and a move speed buff. This became the preferred summoner spell of safe mid lane players and ADCs over Barrier, because of the ability to reposition in addition to the extra effective health it brought. It was also a nerf to assassins because they no longer had an easy way to burst down ADCs. Barrier was already starting this and heal buffs were a final nail in the coffin. Since assassins fell off, ADCs that had fewer escapes but consequently more damage could be played. Twitch saw a rise to popularity due to his hard carry team fight role and the strength and synergy he had with Blade of the Ruined King. After Twitch, we saw Kog'Maw start being selected as well.

Alongside the heal buffs was a buff to Teleport - lowering the cooldown significantly when it was used on turrets. This meant weak, early laners now had a way to handle their weakest point in the game. If you got chunked out, you could just back to base, buy and teleport back. For a little while we went back to a standard meta. Then teams began trying to funnel whatever gold they could into their ADC because of how hard these popular ADCs would scale. Lane swaps were back, and there was little to no reason not to do them. Dragon wasn't worth as much gold, and that was the reason that you kept your bottom lane near it - so you could have more players to contest it.

ADCs started freezing the lanes rather than pushing early because of the changes to how towers took damage. They took as long as possible to take the tower in order to keep the top laner starved for farm. Top laners started roaming with the jungler in order to actually gain experience until they could safely farm. This led to three-man ganks on mid laners because of supports roaming as well. Since the early game has become so much less intense and more strategic, we've seen much more late game oriented compositions, including many "protect the carry" teams. Mids are choosing higher utility champions that can give their team buffs and either peel or put out sustained damage. 


In a way, we've come full circle back to early to mid Season 3. In all honesty, this is the kind of meta that I prefer - mages and late game tanks and ADCs. It’s a very strategic game compared to mid Season 3 though. Rather than trying to get ahead and snowball, you take your time to get guaranteed gold by farming. Once you’re able to get some gold onto your carrys, you move down to force objectives and use your sieging-power or team fight potential to take them or force them off. The game has evolved in ways, but it’s always been somewhat related to the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Squishy constant damage beats tanks who beat assassins who beat squishy constant damage. This isn't an end-all be-all, but it’s a great way to try and predict counters and how the meta will evolve. I think eventually we’ll see more assassins come back that can take out ADCs like Kog'Maw and Twitch, or maybe a way to counter their freeze in the top lane with another ranged character like Kennen. Teams will always find ways to counter what’s popular and that, in turn, will become popular. That’s how metas work.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

LCS FanZone Question of the Day

We asked: If you could add a new game mode to LoL..what would it be?

- Each team picks which 5 champs the other team will play. (You can trade with other players on your team). Nuggetsauce ‏@nuggetsauce

- Capture the flag Jose ‏@SporadicJ

- I would like a mode that emphasises the 1v1 aspect of the game. Not sure if you could do anything more creative than showdown. Arron Dempsey ‏@ArronDempers

- One where everyone is normal, but I am slightly buffed so I don't get frustrated as I can't die :p David Fletcher ‏@djfletcherer

- Hide and Seek would be awesome... people already do it in customs, but a mode of it would be so much fun! And the seeking team would be able to have 1 Rengar in the team xD Hopping all over! Monstro ‏@PokeBoobies

- Something similar to Dota's Ability Draft. Jesse Raen-Saunders ‏@VocalTerrorist

- Ability draft! It's a game mode from Dota 2. Pretty fun! But I didn't know how to play the game so it was really confusing too. Judar ‏@PikaJudar

- A mode where you pick any champion and any 4 abilities. Lucian with wish for his ult for example. Adam Cowley ‏@adz250

- Death match. 10 champs in an arena start at lvl 18 full items. NE0 Jets ‏@Jetslove81

- Free for all, every man for himself. SabreTilt ‏@SabrewoIf

- I was thinking of something like a normal mode but with minions spawning faster and faster throughout the game. Minions invasion. Jhyrar Baenre @Jhyrar

- I think would be nice to chose (to play) every minion from the map.. hmm ..baron drake minions wraths =)) donno sounds stupid?  Summer ‏@summmeryy

- That is an easy one, make a map, sword and shield style. 4v4v4!! :) three teams In a minion spawn point capture style. Mod bro ‏@Aust_Modbro

- Faction wars would be fun. Branch ‏@ThatGuyBranch

- 3v3 arena with everyone at max level, pillars etc to block skill shots and buffs that appear in specific places.  Amber ‏@kikuzLoL

- 6 player FFA arena last man standing, with an evolving map with randomized effects such as firebreathing statues and pitfalls. Lullaby ‏@LullabyGaming

- a story mode maybe. Chaz ‏@xheshire

- I have 2 ideas. Make all ults global, or instead of the nexus, there is a Baron Nashor at each base you need to kill. Accio Pwns ‏@AccioPwns

- Some mini games with skill shots or stuff like that. Token ‏@Fayetoken

- Somewhat of a tower defense game. Zack | 달 ‏@ChubsLoL

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Alliance 5W - 1L vs Roccat 1W - 5L

Alliance is unstoppable. Roccat is in so bad a slump that replacing its bot lane with potatoes might help. Generally, in the bizarro world of the LCS, this means we can expect Roccat to surprise win.

SK Gaming 4W - 2L vs Millenium 3W - 3L

SK is showing consistant play. Mellenium is still wavering. If Week 1 Kerp shows up, Millenium will have a shot. If Week 2 Kerp shows up, Mellenium will lose. It's a Tale of Two Kerps.

Copenhagen Wolves 2W - 4L vs Gambit 2W - 4L

Both teams are trying to find synergy with their new players. Both teams are slowly improving. However, niQ is still finding his stride with Gambit, while the Wolves' new players are at the heart of their progress. Based on this observation alone, I expect the Wolves to really come together and make a strong showing in this game.   

Supa Hot Crew 4W-2L vs Fnatic 3W - 3L

Fnatic lost to Gambit. Meanwhile, Supa Hot Crew are on a Supa Hot Streak. Once again, this should mean a Fnatic surprise win, but Fnatic like riding roller coasters and I expect them to beat Roccat on Friday, so, unfortunately, today will have to be the down side of 'up and down.'  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Are You Doing Under There?

 League in the Land Down Under 

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

Hyper-excited shoutcasters are calling the end of a game. Colored lights flash over frenzied fans, who watch the match with raised arms. The clacking of thundersticks is heard as the nexus explodes. Riot's logo appears, followed by a smoky beige video of players posed with crossed arms, appearing dangerous and determined as they stare down the camera. It looks, for all intents and purposes, like any other day in the LCS, save for one interesting factor. This is the Autumn Regionals in Australia, and you've probably never heard of most of these fellows.

While we generally pay attention to European and Asian Leagues, we give very little notice to what goes on in the land down under. League in Oz is as mysterious to us as life in the outback, and it's only during the wildcard phase of Worlds that we tend to give the Oceanic scene any consideration at all - but they're certainly not unworthy. 
Prior to receiving their own server last year, Australian league fans had to endure terrible pings and crushing lag. Despite this, their team Immunity still managed a valiant showing at Worlds, holding their own against CJ Blaze and finishing the group stage tied for second.

Even though the Oceanic League resembles our LCS, it's layout is very different. Teams qualify for the Autumn and Winter Regionals through a number of smaller tournaments, and then the top eight teams play in what is known as "the round of 8," an online, streamed B03 event that runs for three weeks.  The top four teams then compete live on stage in the Autumn or Winter Finals, and the winner gets a buy into either the Winter Regionals or the Wildcard Tournament, with the hopes of moving on to the World Championships in Korea.

Viewership of these Regionals (and playing of LOL in general) has been growing at a rate quite similar to what the NA LCS experienced in its first year of production. Riot now rebroadcasts the NA LCS on Twitch during primetime Australian hours. Combine this with big NA names such as Dignitas and Curse picking up Australian rosters, and Australian fans are starting to pay a lot more attention to the NA LCS. The broadcast definitely has its fans.

Among the Oceanic League, Team Immunity has the largest following, although Avant Garde Ascension is knocking on their door. Each team has its own gaming house, a strong social media presence, and its share of popular streamers. (Like Minkywhale from Avant and Raydere from Immunity.)

Assuming the Oceanic Regionals continue to follow the path of the LCS, given a few more years, the Australian teams should be achieving the same large scale growth and fame that EU and NA LCS players are experiencing now. Currently, the Aussies have just completed the first week of their Winter Round of 8, so if you have any interest in watching, now is the time to check them out! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Amazing is Awesome Sauce (Puns be Damned!)

by Jodi "PunkLit" McClure

Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider could not have picked a better in-game name. The twenty-year-old German jungler who recently joined TSM has left some impressive numbers in his wake. During his time with the Copenhagen Wolves, he registered some of the highest weekly KDAs, despite his team's sluggish performance. Since arriving in America, Amazing has streamed a few times. Relaxed and humorous, he exudes a good attitude along with a healthy dose of bravado. But while he's patently confident of his own skills, the two time EU MVP is very careful when making predictions about his performance with his new team.  READ MORE..

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Okay...Now You're in Trouble...

This isn't Xpeke's "I'm sorely disappointed in my team's performance" face. This is his "Someone, going to pay for this soon" face. Burdened with a frustrating 0-2 start, Fnatic must once again do some soul searching. But, let us not forget, this is the team that looooves losing streaks and dramatic (if not insane) climbs back to the top. While their play can be improved upon (greatly?) I wouldn't count out Fnatic yet. They've stuffed a lot of damn words back into people's mouths.

The question, to me, isn't can they do it. The question is...when will their anger-fueled, bullet-like ascent back to first place start? :)

Auf Wiedersehen, Yellowpete.

Nooo, not our Yellowpete! Nooo. Although...on second thought...Evil Geniuses have been having a rough patch, bottom lane hasn't been fabulous, and there's no denying Altec has serious talent. Sure, we don't like seeing anyone replaced, especially when they've been with us for so long, but player swaps have become a necessary evil in the NA LCS, and I don't doubt there will be more of them as this split gets underway.  

(Wait..didn't I beat you in this game?)

Yellowpete bowed out graciously on the Evil Genuises' website, saying, "There is no arguing about the fact that my performance within the last couple of months has not been what I want or the team needs it to be. After closely watching the tryouts period, I believe that this is a change that can have a positive effect on the team's performance. Altec is a very talented, young player whom I could see a lot of growth in and I'm looking forward to helping him transition into the LCS from the Challenger scene."

A Tale of Two Cities
(or " Cologne...")

Thursday, May 15, 2014

LCS Central's Question of the Day!

We asked:
What Champion was the hardest for you to learn?
Certain Champions appeared to be more vexing than others! Here's some of what you had to say:

  • Elise! First transforming champion I played so I ended up getting confused a lot and just button mashing hoping for the best - Judar ‏@PikaJudar
  • Bought Elise, played a game, refunded. Bought Khazix, played a game, got mecha Khazix. - Brandeezy ‏@Im_Brandeezy
  • Elise. Several attempts and I'm still none the wiser. Orianna is the same. I just get nowhere with them. - кαчʟεıɢн ‏@Kayleighh_x
  • Elise :P It's the transforming that gets me haha, so many choices. - Heather ‏@owlxie
  • Elise. She was my first transformation champ :3 but last year she was my main. - Conrad Von Newman ‏@BaronVoNewman 
  • Leblanc for me, as a main jungler it was so hard at first. - Alexandre S. ‏@eclecticvenus 
  • Leblanc. There's something very beautiful about playing Leblanc, it's either get fed or feed, it's like art. For me, I was fart. - Martin Eriksson ‏@PyunTaeFoo
  • Simply Leblanc :). Every time I play her, I'm confused which build or combo should I go to maximize her damg. Plus her E is hard. - Rays ‏@RaysPham
  • Leblanc. I can play any other champ fine, haha. - Narokuu 死の天使 ‏@Narokuu
  • Still can get the hang of Draven, so many things to keep track of in order to optimize your use of him. Making sure to use axes to cs for passive, catching axes, keeping 2 up, refreshing W constantly, it's so much to do. - Arron Dempsey ‏@ArronDempers
  • Ryze and Draven, I've tried so hard to learn those two because they're both really strong but I just can't do it. - Dominic Broadhead ‏@HanzoKurosawa 
  • I still think Draven was one of the hardest ADCs to master. Hitting that catch and throw rhythm isn't always easy. - Alec C ‏@Gambit_Le3tha 
  • Draven x) - Reflexink ‏@Reflexink
Vayne, Orianna and Syndra:
  • Might have been Vayne for me, she can only apply AA but her movement coordination is so difficult if you wanna live while dealin dmg. - Waljakovo ‏@Waljakovo
  • Vayne for me but now I'm God with her. - joshua röder ‏@RderVayne
  • Vayne and Syndra :3 - foxxy ‏@letsgetfoxxy 
  • Syndra. She's not the champ for me. I tried once and I gave up in life. XD - Kristaaaaal ‏@FluffyKristal
  • Vayne + Orianna for me, still learning! - Connor Spaulding ‏@ConnorSpaulding
  • Orianna. I can never keep track of the ball :/ - Joey ‏@TheRockHD
  • Ori. She balled way too hard for me. - Kerwin ‏@CaiusTSR
Zed, Kha'Zix, Rumble:
  • I can not play Zed. I suck xD for some reason I can only play with mages. I gotta work on dat lol - Mayu Amu Hinamori ‏@MayuAmuHinamori
  • Kha'Zix. He was the first I ever loved playing although I sucked. Now he's one of my best. - Lux ‏@adorbss
  • Rumble, he doesn't have the same mechanics as any other character, and eventually I settled to be mediocre with him. - Aaron Zeatlow ‏@A_zargast
  • Rumble was very tough for me, I prob can't play him anymore - Pieter Cnudde ‏@antdrioite
  • I can't play Zed to save my life. - Yamustache ‏@LoLYamazuya
And surprisingly...Ashe:
  • Ashe..and Varus..sad I know I can play Ori with no problems but ask me to use an arrow and it's like I'm a nub or sumthin. Katie Diegan ‏@kate_diegan 
  • Ashe. I'm not a good ADC as it is, and I am not a fan of auto-attacks. Rito pls nerf. - Jt 'Ribbwich' Egbert ‏@_ribbwich
  • Ashe, after 2,5 years I still cannot play her. - Victor KlebΞrg ‏@zquaredninja
Twisted Fate, Jinx, Varus and Irelia also got a couple of mentions. So kudo's to anyone who can play these champions've mastered other people's nightmares. :) 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Here a Braum, there a Braum...

Everywhere a Braum...Braum...

New Champions - Insta-locked and played like crazy for a week after their release. With little exception, every normal I played today had two Braums in it, each throwing up their cool ass shields and laying out their spiky blue lines of death. Our happy little rift poros were certainly well-protected! Personally, I found Braum just annoying enough to make a great lane opponent, and just kill-able enough to not seem ridiculously OP. I declare him amazingly well-balanced straight out of the box. The question is, will we still see him next week, or will players return to Leona and more traditional tanky supports?

So what do you think, Summoners? Is Braumania here to stay?