Yeesh. I’ve been writing for over fifteen years and that is the best word I can find in my vocabulary to describe the state of the LCS right now. North America’s League Championship Series marks the highest caliber of play in League of Legends for those who live in the USA and Canada. And if this is the pinnacle, then we have serious problems on our hands. The problems go deeper than just the level of play, the LCS is basically unwatchable at this point. I’m a huge League of Legends fan, and this is why I’m looking to other regions for entertaining play.
The LCS is having their Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football moment
What was once the best production in esports, has really started to fall on hard times. I was pretty forgiving in a piece I wrote last week, but this is the week where it really began to sink in. I found myself watching LCS in the middle of the day on Saturday and wishing I was watching anything else. I’m not kidding when I tell you I flipped it over to a baseball re-run. BASEBALL. RE-RUN. The biggest problem is I don’t think it’s about the talent.
Jatt is a noticeable absence from the desk, but there is still plenty of talent on that roster. Riv, Captain Flowers, LeTigress, Phreak. They are more than capable of carrying a show. I’m worried the problem is coming down from on high. No LCS. Rap freestyles are not what the kids want. No LCS. SushiDragon closing out the show is not what ignites our passion. Doublelift, one of your star players, referred to your broadcast as a ‘clown show’. There’s trouble afoot. That said, I would argue his team’s play through 2 weeks is the bigger clown show.
SushiDragon coming on to close out last weekend’s LCS felt to me like Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football. For the kids out there, Dennis Miller was a comedian who came on to help broadcast Monday Night Football games. He was eventually replaced by John Madden. And as you’ll notice, the games aren’t called Miller 21. It was just a cheap ploy to try and drum up some laughs, and it went over like a lead balloon. Bad look LCS.
The level of competition is abysmal
But all the cheesy lame production in the world wouldn’t make the LCS unwatchable if the level of competition was good. SPOILER. It is not. I’m not even sure what to make of the teams that I’m watching right now, except that they’re bad. No one in North America knows how to take a lead, push the advantage, and win a game. That’s why every game follows pretty much the same formula. Get kills early > Win 5 dragons > Win Baron > Push inhibitor > Back off > Win Elder Drake > Win Baron again > Push two more inhibitors > Win game.
The problem with this is that no one wants to watch Cloud9 drag out a sure fire win for the next 15 minutes. Where’s the killer instinct? Go for the jugular! Teams should be pressing their advantage and not letting things stall out into late game. My concern is that the reason this doesn’t happen, is that no one is capable. And that’s a bad sign when it comes to our prospects at Worlds this year. Teams on the international stage will not be stalling out games for a half hour. They will beat you into submission, and if you don’t believe me, go watch the Korean league.
I think this is the bigger issue because it’s not as easy to fix. Yes, I don’t need to hear LeTigress rap a friday night recap. However, she’s an incredibly talented host and caster. Just don’t have her rap and the problem is solved. She can still entertain and make a great product. The fix for teams not being competitive is a much longer term and difficult fix. What’s it going to take for North American teams to become competitive again? I can’t answer that in this piece alone, it’s too big an issue. And that’s worrisome.
The rival leagues are way better
Perhaps the greatest challenge for the LCS viewing experience right now is that there are better alternatives out there. The LCS can sustain on it being the only real source of North American League of Legends. And to some, like me, that’s important. I come from watching traditional sports where rooting for your home team or region is important. Hell, I’m a Detroit Lions fan. Let that sink in for a moment. But many in esports aren’t tied necessarily to their region, just to teams they really like.
Of course, we all want North America to win at Worlds. However, until that’s a legitimate possibility, what should stop me from watching the European scene? Have you seen the LEC, lately? It’s great. What about Korea’s LCK region? Apart from a few veterans, they’ve got a vibrant youth movement going on that is entertaining as hell to watch. And the unfortunate truth is that I know those are the teams I’m going to be watching battle it out for League’s greatest prize come October.
To Riot’s credit, they have acknowledged the state of the LCS is unacceptable. They’ve outlined plans to try and improve things, but I’m worried that the issues run much deeper than production. Until the teams in the LCS are competitive internationally, everything else is just fluff.
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Lead Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games