eSports, League of Legends and Warmachine?

I’m always looking for something to have on in the background and lately with my interest in League of Legends I’ve been watching the North American LCS(League of Legends Championship Series) on www.lolesports.com.  It’s pretty interesting to watch and having the matches both streaming live and available later on Youtube makes it pretty easy to check out.

With last year’s Warmachine Weekend championship match being covered a similar way by Team Covenant, I’m really interested to see where this might go in the next couple of years.

For those who aren’t familiar, League of Legends is free to download and play.  Every week there are 10 of the champions that are free to play.  When you play, you earn Influence Points(IP) which is a currency that you can use to purchase champions to be available permanently or runes that will enhance your champions(though the number you can use at any point is capped to keep things fair).  You can also purchase a second type of currency Riot Points(RP) which can also be used to purchase champions as well as XP or IP boosts or custom “Skins” for champions giving them an alternate look and/or sound effects.

Riot nicely toes the line of making things available for purchase without making it pay-to-win.  The only things that can only be purchased with money are skins which are purely cosmetic and boosts which just make things go faster which you could do otherwise spending only times.  I recently decided to buy some RP to get some champions I just didn’t want to wait for or have to choose between spending my IP on them or Runes.  I dropped $20 on a game I’ve been playing more than games I paid 60 just to get, so it works for me based on the amount of enjoyment I’ve been getting, but I imagine that there are a lot of players without the disposable income to drop.

I bring this up because Riot, the company that makes League of Legends gives away prizes for the top tournaments and organizes the LCS, which makes it one big promotion tool.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  By making the highest tier of competitive game play so prestigious and on a world-wide stage, it encourages players to strive for that.

They really do up the production too, which is really cool.  They have commentators, who do in game discussions similar to professional sports, most like Hockey.  They have post game interviews with players, do human interest pieces, the whole nine yards.

While I’m saying this, I’ll let everyone know that I am a huge sports fan, mostly Football(American) and Basketball, with a little bit of Hockey.  I also tend to really like reality shows where the premise is people who are good at something doing what they’re good at.  I don’t care if it’s Project Runway or Top Chef, it has a lot of the same appeal as sports though sports has the appeal of having more rules making it less opinion based.  In that way, the LCS is much more like sports than other reality shows, making the term eSports seem not too far off.

So I’ve been having a great time watching the LCS both because it’s interesting to watch really good players play a game I like as well as seeing a niche hobby getting some mainstream-style exposure and get treated like a real sport.

As I’m doing this, I’m reminded of Team Covenant’s video covering the 2012 Warmachine Weekend Final.  I really liked what they did, being able to see the game with the multiple camera angles and commentary.  Warmachine isn’t quite as popular as League of Legends and things like this aren’t supported in quite the same way but the competitive nature of both games lends it to the same type of coverage.  I think that the commentators aren’t nearly as good in this Warmachine video, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch.  It’s also a little more difficult to setup as with a video game you can just run a video screen capture program to get the video.

I personally don’t have the skill, equipment or ability to start this kind of coverage for Warmachine events, but it’s definitely something I’d be an avid viewer of if it existed.

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