|League of Legends World Finals - A Worldly Game|
Leaguepedia's David and Scott took to the streets while at the Season 3 World Championship Finals in Los Angeles, and talked with many League of Legends fans who had also made the trip to see Royal Club and SKT T1 duke it out in the Staples Center. We were most interested in how far League fans had come to watch the best teams in the world as well as opinions of the event as a whole and how the match would play out. What we got were some extremely varied predictions of the eventual Champions, but overall an overwhelming consensus that the biggest eSports event in history would also be one of the best.
Our first encounter was with Michelle as we left our hotel in late morning. Michelle, who shoutcasts for several notable challenger leagues, told us about a fairly large number of people already at the venue despite doors remaining closed for at least six hours. Excitement surrounding the event was definitely more apparent than that for the Season 2 finals, she said.
Following up on the hint about fans already waiting at the Staples Center, we went to see for ourselves and sure enough, there were already around 100 people waiting, talking, and taking in the environment. To my surprise, it didn’t take long to find fans from outside the US. Abraham from Mexico predicted Faker would lead SKT T1 to a 3-0 victory. Diego and Mike, also from Mexico, both thought SKT T1 would win, but expected a tough fought series. Diego and Mike told us they had gotten in on Wednesday after 8 hours of flights took them from Central Mexico to LA. Another group of fans who crossed borders were Bradley and Stephen from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Keeping with the pattern established by other early risers, both of the Canadians expected SKT T1 to take home the Summoner’s Cup.
Several fans we talked to thought that Royal Club would ultimately come away with the victory, two of them being U.S. Air Force members Jerome and Matthew who were pulling for it particularly because of an interest in Royal Club championship skins (sorry, maybe next year?). Also rooting for Royal Club was Sebastopol, who was the lone believer from a group of Southern Californian friends we talked with. The group of local fans including Isaac, JT, and Eric, were repeat World Finals attendees, and really hoped for a 5 game set. Hoping for opposite sides as well were Patrick and Stephen from Fairfax, Virginia. Stephen was excited to see Tabe’s notorious Annie support, while Patrick expected SKT to take the match.
Among the most visible of the early gatherers was Chris “Terrarising” Ferguson, who was showing off his stylish Debonair Jayce cosplay. Wielding an oversized hammer that would be perfect for the champion in game, Chris wasn’t exactly difficult to spot. A Southeastern Californian, Chris impressed us with details about the outfit and told us about a previous cosplay of his favorite champion, Pentakill Yorick. When asked about the outcome of the series, Chris said he simply wanted to see as many games as possible, hoping for a 5 game set.
Chris was not alone in wanting to see 5 games either. Almost every single person we spoke with commented that they would rather see their favored team lose 3-2 instead of win 3-0. Given that the event was in the United States we expected to see more NA and EU fans than Korean or Chinese and that was certainly the case. With no resounding loyalties to either team, most of these fans were only here to see the best two teams in the world face off against each other in an epic 5 game series. While most of these fans were surely disappointed, one wouldn’t have had it any other way. Carla from San Diego mentioned to us that SKT T1 has been her favorite team since their formation and wanted to see them blow Royal Club out 3-0.
Another recurring theme amongst many fans was the wish for quality games. Michael from Santa Monica expressed that he would rather see better games than more games. He pointed out that three very close games won by the same team would be more entertaining than five stomp games. When asked about the suspense and tension that would surround a fifth and deciding game he exclaimed that it would only last for five to ten minutes in a stomp game.
After taking pictures of the venue and walking around for a little while we ran into a fan sporting a ‘SKT T1 Korean Hype Train’ poster. On the poster were glued mini train tracks and train cars; and on those cars were pictures of the various analysts for the tournament. There was also a big SKT T1 logo proudly displayed as large as could fit. The flip side of the poster showed Royal Club’s logo and read ‘the Chinese derailment.’ The glued down train tracks on this side of the poster veered off the edge. This fan was clearly on the side of SKT T1 and chose a fantastic way to showcase it.
Despite League of Legends being associated with a younger age group, there were people of all ages present outside the venue even in the early morning. We passed some younger children who couldn’t be more than six or seven years old accompanied by their father, passing down his love for video games to his children. We also saw couples and friends together across varied ages, all there enjoying the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming event.
All in all, it was great to see excited fans from all over the world anxiously awaiting the most anticipated League of Legends match of the year. Talking with so many different faces of difference backgrounds, histories, and ages strengthened the idea that League of Legends has an enthusiastic, thriving community, and will continue to support the growth and passion for seasons to come.