Note: This is an editorial. The opinions expressed by this article do not reflect the official position of TeamLiquid.net or its staff (other than MoonBear).
Another year has passed us by in League of Legends and in our little subforum nested away on TeamLiquid. We've come a long way since our humble beginnings. Do you still remember when we had a General Discussion thread and a Patch Discussion thread at the same time? Wait, we changed that last year and not this year? Okay never mind. But still, our little subforum has seen a lot of changes go by.
This is going to be different from the stuff I normally write. Rather than some analytical piece where I waffle about strategy or teams and stuff, this is a more personal piece where I jot down some thoughts on the proverbial pad about the various things that have occurred this year.
First thing's first though. Let's get one issue out of the way. (And I am sure this is probably the main reason anyone from Reddit is reading this right now since even if I don't post this to Reddit I'm sure someone else will.)
When is TeamLiquid picking up League of Legends?
Our own elephant in the room
It's a question I get asked a lot, and even more so ever since TeamLiquid picked up DotA 2. Here's a question I want to ask back to everyone who's asked that question. Why do you want TeamLiquid to pick up LoL?
Do you want TeamLiquid to pick up LoL because we write nice articles? We're not planning on stopping soon so there's not need to fear about that. Despite not being part of the official TL Coverage, our staff has grown a lot since the start of the year in order to bring you more.
Do you want TeamLiquid to pick up LoL because you want a moderated forum for quality discussion? You're already in the right place. Did you know that the LoL Subforum on TL is older than the DotA 2 subforum? There's always going to be a bit of hostility from the SC2 and DotA folks (although I wish it were not so) but it's not like TL is anti-LoL or something. It would have been very hard to recruit LoL Staff otherwise, haha. We've been playing and talking about LoL ever since the Beta. If you don't visit the subforum already, there's nothing stopping you from making an account and joining the TeamLiquid LoL community right now. Just remember that we're stricter on posting quality here compared to Reddit or the official LoL Forums.
Do you want TeamLiquid to pick up LoL because you need to justification that LoL is finally a major eSport? Ok, we're flattered that you think you need some sort of vindication from TeamLiquid that LoL has finally made it big or something. But I mean let's be honest. LoL is a major eSport. No one is going to dispute that (and if they do, they're being very silly). You don't need a TL endorsement or something to make you feel better.
Do you want TeamLiquid to pick up LoL because you think it's an appropriate move to take to recognise the work that we do which would mean greater exposure and increased depth and scope in a logical fashion? Get your logic and reason out of here boy. This is the internet. Where do you think this is, reality?
In all seriousness though, it's a much more valid argument than the first three and one many of us agree with. Unfortunately, we just can't at the moment due to a lack of resources. To put things in perspective, think about everything we do on this site. Liquipedia, the TeamLiquid Pro-scene Database (TLPD), Liquibet, the events calendar, managing our own pro-teams and treating them right and so much more. It takes a phenomenal amount of effort just to keep everything running (did I mention that we all do this for free?). And right now, we just can't do it. It would probably kill all of the LoL Staff if we tried to do something like that. Indeed, it is already a struggle for us to continue producing what we already do given all the pressure from real life we have. And it's not as simple as just hiring lots of people.
So patience. All good things will come in time.
No child left behind
An issue we need to address
I recognise that what I wrote above probably won't satisfy a lot of people. To you folks, I apologise, but there's not really much else I can really say right now. (Hopefully I might have helped some of the non-TL'ers learn about the fact we actually have a subforum and have quite an old LoL community here and clear up the confusion that somehow we hate LoL?) Let' just say there's something coming soon™. So stay tuned for further news...
So then, onto something different.
For better or for worse, the League of Legends online community centres around Reddit. No matter who you are, if you want people to look at the stuff you produce, you need to be able to make it on Reddit. In a way it's not a bad thing. Reddit is an open democratic platform that allows lots of people to share and aggregate links. But I'd be remiss if I said it didn't have its flaws. The problems of Reddit are well-known at this point so I'm not going to be beat a dead horse. But suffice to say, there are problems when a subreddit grows beyond a certain size and people start complaining about the quality of the stuff on the frontpage. It's this problem which I think is going to be an issue for the eSport scene as we move forward into Season 3.
Why do I say this? Well, for one it make it harder for educational content to become 'mainstream' (for lack of a better word). "But MoonBear," you cry. "Educational content still makes it onto the frontpage every now and then!" And you're totally right. Even several of our own articles on TeamLiquid have been there before. But at the same time, we have a problem. Take for instance our own Season 2 World Preview. At the end of the day it had 345 upvotes. Not too shabby. Yet only a few hours after we posted our Preview, snoopeh posted this link to a video we had in our Preview which instantly crushed into the top of the front page while the TL Preview hovered in the lower half of the page.
"But upvotes don't mean anything!" you exclaim. Well, you're right and you're wrong. You're right that upvotes are arbitrary numbers that can't really be redeemed for anything and just look pretty. But at the same time, for content creators, upvotes are an important way to figure out just how many people are actually engaged with your work. If someone can't even be bothered to upvote a link or post a comment, it's likely they can't be bothered to read what you've done. And when the general community is more interested in someone else reposting a section of your own coverage than, you know, your actual stuff, we have a problem.
"Maybe snoopeh had this video saved in his favourites and felt like posting it!" Maybe. I mean the world can be a funny place. But at the same time, I doubt snoopeh understands Chinese and the timing of his post doesn't help. Not that I begrudge him or anything; it was a good video to share and I'm happy more people saw it and learnt about Misaya. What I'm trying to get at here is the fundamental challenge educational content has when it wants exposure. If you dig deep enough, there are many many more examples where this has occurred.
So why does it matter? Let's take an issue people always complain about. Something like casters not knowing enough about the game. Ok, it's a valid concern. But then at the same time, how do you expect casters to impart pearls of wisdom to you, if there's nothing for them to draw from in the first place? If you want 3k elo casters who've had experience in the pro-scene and analyse things to a detail then you're asking for too much. Besides, the general state of LoL Theory isn't even that good. How often did you hear the terms like "low economy game" or "timings" before we used it here on TL? Do you really expect casters to be able to talk about how the structure of a team's playstyle affects the way their positional battles when most people don't care about this stuff in the first place?
"But Starcraft does just fine with great casters who know everything!" Well, yes and no. The thing is, while casters like Apollo do exist, it's not a one-man show. All the technical detail and depth in Starcraft casting is a result of the constant analysis and thinking of many individuals put together. Great casters aren't automatons who self-taught themselves everything. They're a product of a great community. And heck, even casters sometimes need emergency backup. But if we're not cultivating this sort of material, then we neither should we be expecting earth-shattering commentary. Casters like Jatt and Deman are good. But imagine if they also had a wealth of material to draw from as well. That is what we should be aiming for. And if you want something, you need to do something about it.
And it's not just casting. What about teams who want to break into the professional scene? Do we just expect them to get repeatedly bullied and expect them to try and figure out all this theory themselves? One of the great equalisers in Starcraft is that anyone can educate themselves about strategies, timings, play styles and more. It lowers the barriers to entry and allows for fresh talent to enter the scene without necessitating a long history. One of the criticisms of the NA scene has been its reluctance to nurture and develop its own fresh talent, instead focusing on recycling the same players again and again. But how does new talent get nurtured if there's not a lot for them to learn from? How do we encourage and foster talent? There will always be maestros and trailblazers who create their own theories that revolutionise games like iloveoov or sAviOr. But there are also players who are a product of nurture and theory like Fantasy.
So the next time, you see a good article on Reddit, actually try and spend some time and read it. At the very least give it an up-vote and a comment. Doesn't have to be TL stuff. I've seen some nice articles come out from other sites too like ggChronicles and Dignitas. Let the authors know you appreciate their work and that it means something. If there are things you want to see more of, or critique about, tell them. If you want to go bump another thread about 'Elo Hell' or 'Roit pls' that's your choice. But it's also your choice to encourage or discourage educational content.
It would seriously be a shame if the biggest setback for us as a community and a scene was the fact we didn't care about our own education.
A side note here but if you're up-and-coming or existing caster, the one article I'd recommend out of everything we've written this year would be Breaking Down the World. I specifically put in a LOT of effort to making it something casters could learn from and use.
Putting the pen to the paper
And creating more terrible metaphors
Alright, all the boring (but necessary) stuff is out of the way. Time for something completely different.
Sometimes I get asked about the whole writing articles stuff. How long does each piece take me? (Absolutely ages.) Is it difficult? (I guess.) Do I have advice for anyone who wants to try writing and contributing? (Give it a go and see!) So I figured I should talk about this whole writing thing.
Trying do write analysis in LoL is hard. I'm not going to try and sound badass and be all like "Yeah I write with one hand while climbing elo wit the other bro" or something. One of the reasons is that there's very little existing material for you to draw upon. In Starcraft, a lot of the essentials like key timings, openings, theories on economy management, map specifics, etc. have all been documented. You can just go straight for it and start applying existing knowledge. However, LoL is different. A lot of the times when I write, it feels like you have to create the theory or try and break down ideas because people may not be familiar with certain ideas before you can even apply it. It also means you can't just mechanically grind out articles like the SC2 Staff sometimes can. It also means for more serious analysis you have to do a lot of research and thinking before you can even get to writing.
What do I mean by this? Well, for the CLG.EU v SK Battle Report before I even started writing anything I spent 10+ hours just watching VoDs and making notes. I watched the actual game in question like 5 times or something making notes as I went along. Once I had an idea about a hunch I had, I then went off to watch nearly every VoDs from OGN The Champions which had a Skarner in it. Then it was time for planning. How do you explain the importance of a mid-game timing window? How do you present the ideas you have? Only once all of this was complete did I finally start writing the article. All in all, it must have taken at least 25 hours. Maybe even more. And don't even get me started on how long articles like Breaking Down the World or An Azubu Analysis took.
If you're an aspiring writer I've probably put you off pretty badly haha. I'm sorry. But remember, you don't always have to invent the wheel! Remember that you can draw from existing knowledge to help you when you're thinking about what you want to write about. Take this article by ESFI for instance (I like this article btw, and I recommend you have a read when you have time). In many ways, writing these kinds of articles is a bit like academia. Every little bit helps to increase the total sum of our knowledge. Don't think you have to be a maestro who founds a new theory. Even iterations upon what exists is valuable.
There's a lot of other good stuff you can draw upon from that's not LoL related. The work by the Starcraft and DotA staff have been some of the biggest inspirations for me, and setting the standard for the articles we produce. Watching DotA has also been really beneficial. Ignoring everything that transpires between the communities of the two games, the games themselves have a lot in common. I'd say I'm surprised just how close they are to each other, except I really shouldn't. After all, they're both of the same genre, have a creator in common, have similar items, champions/heroes, and more.
For myself as the main editor guy as well as a writer it's kinda intimidating cause you feel like you need to live up to so much. I mean, how do you follow in the footsteps of people like Waxangel, Riptide, Kiante, etc.? There's actually a lot of stuff I've written or started to write but trashed because I just didn't like it or because the time wasn't right yet. Although... I look back at what's been published this year and I think I've learnt a lot and hopefully that's translated into better articles too.
That was a wall of text. Here's a cat video to break up the monotony.
One other thing any aspiring writer should take into account is that be prepared for no one to give two hoots about the work you do. If you post to Reddit, don't expect a huge response, and take what you get and rock and/or roll with that. However. the hardest thing is probably the time management. Most people generally have full-time careers or education. Sometimes even both in some instances like myself. And real life needs to come first. There are probably better people out there who can give advice compared to me. But if there's one thing I can say, it's be realistic with yourself.
Also, a word to all you people who've been asking or wondering about getting involved with the TL LoL Staff. Get involved with the community here! Apart from being supah awesome, it's also a great way for us to get to know you. There's never been a better time to get involved in the TL LoL Community! (Ok, maybe there's been one other time, but just one a'rite?)
The Storm of Change
48" Range, STR 8, AP1
The new Season 3 (well, Pre-Season for now) updates have brought a lot of changes to the game. Some for the better, some rather more dubious. Overall interesting changes though.
"In Season 3, as a Support I feel rich now!"
What mainly worries me for Season 3 is the way tournaments will be handled. While not all the details have been released, what has trickled out worries me. First up is the indication that cross-regional tournament play will likely be toned down or even restricted (Nick Allen's AMA). If this is going to become a thing, we're going to see a greater and greater disparity between the various regions.
Cross-regional play is entertaining as a viewer but it also exposes teams to many different forms of play. For regions that are less developed in areas (such as theory, understanding, etc.) cross-regional play is also an important opportunity for them to learn from and about other methods of play. For instance, IEM Kiev and Hannover with Moscow 5, or MLG Summer Arena with Azubu`Blaze forced many teams to come to terms with different perspectives of how to approach the laning phase. One of the greatest issues with regional play is that opinions and views quickly become an echo-chamber and self-reinforcing. Cross-regional play forces players, spectators and analysts to start thinking differently. If we want to encourage a healthy development of team skill, understanding and development of LoL theory, we need to have venues for cross-regional play.
The second issue what worries me is whether we will approach tournament saturation. (Garvey Tweet) As I have written before, the skill disparity between teams at the professional level is not as big as many people try to make it out to be (yes, that includes NA teams). What really makes a difference is whether teams can operate in a comfortable in-game environment in a way that reflects their styles and capabilities. That also means teams need to be self-reflective and really understand their own and their team members' capabilities at a deep level in order to make plays. A constant gauntlet of tournament games is not going to help this. If we see a need for teams to grind games, then we're going to be taking time and energy away from just playing as a squad and maturing.
Following from this in many cases we already see an unwillingness or hesitation to nurture and foster talent outside of Asia. This is perhaps the main infrastructure we need to see created, not tournaments and money. Turnover and the ability to foster and create new talent and blood for a scene has always been a key issue for any competitive sport. When we look at the OGN/NLB model for the Korean scene and the way Chinese teams retain even poor performing players knowing that they will one day they will become one of the best in the world we need to look beyond just the tournaments and the hype. I worry if the new model that is being created will support this.
I like rhyming
While we wait for Season 3 to kick off, have you been following the OGN Olympus The Champions Winter? Cause if you haven't you totally should be. It's been a great tournament so far and I have high expectations for the finals. MonteCristo and Doa have also been doing a great job there.
If you don't browse the TL LoL Subforum a huge amount and want to keep updated if anything happens (including our write-ups, which I admit don't follow a predictable schedule) then you can follow myself (@TLMoonBear) or our lovely admin NeoIllusions (@NeoIllusions). Sometimes we even tweet about other interesting things.
If you're a cute Ahri message me kk~?
That's pretty much all from me apart from some thank yous. If you're still reading, I commend you for negotiating that wall of text I so habitually write. If you just scrolled down here, well, thanks to you as well for caring enough to want to see if there was anything interesting at the end l0l
Words of Thanks
Cause they deserve it
You the readers - Cause that's why we write stuff here on TL.
The people in TL LoL - Without you guys I would never have figured out how to even play this game, esp the guys in EUW LP. I'm still not very good so I guess it's also your fault I'm not 2k elo yet.
Heyoka, Riptide, Waxangel, FakeSteve, tree.hugger, Kipsate, Kupon3ss, scintilliaSD, shostakovich - Our lovely admins of various things and DotA Staff whose input I have valued and have taught me a lot directly or indirectly. Many thanks.
shiroiusagi, HawaianPig - Working tirelessly to make TL look pretty. Also, sick Photoshop skills.
Caulo - For letting us use his art a lot. (Deviantart)
Mogwai/SmashGizmo - Living the dream. Also, corgis.
ketchup - Barely anyone knows him, but he's done a lot for League.
Navi - I still remember when you were Riven only. Things change so fast. Good luck in FXO and you better qualify ok?
AsmodeusXI, onlywonderboy, Chexx, GTR, Xxio -Our new staff who've been
TheYango - Best Theorycraft NA
JBright - Master of the LR Threads from LoL to SC2. Also writes stuff too. He'd be the perfect poster if he wasn't such a CLG hater.
Chiharu Harukaze - Why do you have more posts than me?
NeoIllusions - Our beloved leader of the Subforum and best icon out of all the Admins. Unfortunately can't play Xin.