Week 8 was a wild one with upsets, come from behind wins and razor thin margins of victory. Roster changes were the story this week as many teams were sending out lineups with some new faces. When asked what the most significant roster recent change was by NA casters, the overwhelming Twitter response was the changes at TSM, and while WildTurtle has been playing very well in place of the ousted Chaox, player swaps for team CompLexity and Vulcun have made immediate and measurable impacts for two teams battling it out to stave off relegation at the end of the Spring season. Vulcun has a new shotcaller, imported from GGU: Support Star Bloodwater, while Chuuper stepping down has made room for new coL mid laner PR0LLY. In some of their first matches with their respective teams, fans got to see these two new transplants head-to-head in LCS competition on Friday. PR0LLY distinguished himself by making plays with an unconventional pro-level pick: Annie. It was PR0LLY’s late flash/stun combo which allowed coL to push down the remaining towers in mid lane and roll on to victory. More impressive was when we learned in a post game interview that prior to gameday PR0LLY had never even really played Annie, proving two things: 1) Annie is easy to pick up and 2) PR0LLY is a gutsy, flexible player who is going to make a big difference for his new team.
Of course, the game which may henceforth be called the “Annie Game” wasn’t the first big game for coL this week. In a match CLG expected to win, PR0LLY brought out Ziggs – another champion rarely seen in pro play of late – and popped off, ending the game with a score of 5/2/14, leading his team to a victory in a ridiculous back and forth match that you really need to see to believe. PR0LLY’s success with unconventional picks has NA summoners and fans alike wondering how much of the meta is really set in stone. PR0LLY – by picking champions that his opponents have not practiced against recently – is really making a statement about how teams prepare for games. With over 100 champions – most of whom are viable – how can a team prepare for a mid laner who is just as likely to play one champion as any other? PR0LLY’s success in week 8 will likely not go unanswered. Expect to see other pros experimenting and bringing new champions to the table as everyone races to the end of the Spring season, looking to adapt and rise above the competition.
Despite picking up two impressive wins, coL is stuck at the bottom of the standings looking up. Luckily for coL, they don’t have to look too far as only 2 wins separate everyone in the bottom 4 of the NA LCS standings. Next week’s games are crucial in determining who will move on to the Summer season, and who will be relegated in favor of two new LCS teams. Is it too late for CompLexity, or can PR0LLY’s unconventional style carry them to wins over GGU and the mighty first place Curse? With every team in competition next week except Vulcun Command, coL is in a position to advance in the standings. Games kick off at 1pm PST this Thursday; with only two weeks left in the season now is the time to tune in and watch the climactic matches of the Spring.
When I decided I’d like to improve my game knowledge and learn some new skills to help me out in solo queue, the unanimous sentiment opinined by other players was to “watch the pros play”. At first I felt a little reserved; watching? Shouldn’t I be playing? How do I go about watching games? I’d seen some tutorials about how to use LoLReplay and heard some buzz about Twitch and the now defunct Own3d, but I struggled with the core concepts involved. Watching other people play League of Legends seemed like a cumbersome, tiresome ordeal that I wanted no part of. I felt like there was an experience barrier keeping me from giving it a try, so I continued to toil away in blind pick.
With the advent of the League Championship Series (LCS) and the changes to the Ranked system in season 3, watching the best-of-the-best has never been easier. The imaginary barrier keeping the average player from seeing the game played at the highest level is now, in fact, only imaginary. Any fan of professional sports knows that sometimes accessing game content can be restricted by blackouts, copyright laws and other frustrating barriers, but the burgeoning e-sports scene is largely unmarred by such obstacles.
So what is the best way to begin catching professional level League of Legends games? The afformentioned LCS is a great option for newbies and e-sports megafans alike. Access to the content is very user-friendly and the schedule is very pro-sports-like and easy to track, there are even iOS and Android apps which track stats and provide results for LCS games.
The current format of the LCS is a round robin tournament (each team plays every other team 4 times) split into two reigional divisions: North America and Europe. North American teams play Thursdays and Fridays, while their European counterparts play Saturdays and Sundays. Interested parties have a few simple ways to access the content through Riot’s e-sports hub: LoLesports. On game day, the bulk of the front page is dominated by a Twitch.TV stream, that is to say if you log on Friday afternoon, you’re one click away from an organized HD stream with professional commentary and analysis. If you’re a little late, or missed a game you’d like to see Riot also offers a YouTube link on the main page which is on a short delay, but allows users to rewind and re-watch any part of the broadcast; this is the most useful part of Riot’s LCS coverage, the abililty to catch the important moves that your average solo queue player wants to learn. Watching a successful gank unfold on bottom lane is entertaining, but for it to be informative, you’ll often want to go back and see: what was the jungler doing right before? How did the lane set up for the gank? Where was the enemy jungler during the gank? Riot’s YouTube stream allows you to effortlessly jump to any point in the broadcast, creating your own personal highlight reel.
Of course, the LCS is only broadcasting on weekends, so if it’s Tuesday, where do you go for new content? Well, the number of weekend games is sometimes massive, and all LCS broadcasts are archived on both Riot’s Twitch channel and YouTube channel for re-watching. In addition, Twitch is home to the personal streams of many top-tier League of Legends players. Streams are an excellent resource because many streamers take time to explain their thought process and descision making which can help lead new players and verterans alike to develop good in-game habits. So which streams should you watch? Most professional players and high-level streamers primarily play one role, so if you’re trying to learn a specific champion or role, you should look for casters who play that role. If you’re looking for good general game knowledge, it’s best to find the most informative streamer and follow them. I’ll break down some suggestions by topic – please drop your own personal suggestions in the comments, and I’ll append the main article to reflect community choices.
Voyboy – Team Curse’s top laner. Voy is known for his explanations and “teaching” style while streaming. A great stream to watch for aspiring top laners and new summoners alike.
Wingsofdeath – Wings is one of the most informative and teaching-oriented streamers for LoL, and a great top laner to learn from.
NyJacky – very frequently duo queues with team Curse partner Saintvicious, known for his Veigar.
Scarra – funny, talented and informative. Dignitas’ mid lane phenom is one of the best AP mids to watch and learn the game from.
IAmLOD – a diamond ranked ADC who streams very frequently.
Chaox – TSM’s ADC is known for breaking down almost every play and explaining his thinking as he carries his team to victory. Highly informative!
Destiny – while not on a pro team, Destiny has some great support tips to share from his diamond-ranked streams.
Tsatsulow – the high ELO support from team summon is a good watch for new supports!
Saintvicious – one of North America’s top junglers also streams on twitch.tv and is very informative and reflective while he plays. Additionally, Saint produces a series of highly informative in-depth jungling video guides on YouTube which he streams live Tuesdays at 4pm PST. Saint mostly plays very aggressive, carry-style junglers.
TheOddOne – TSM’s TheOddOne is also one of the best junglers in the North American scene, known for his funny and quirky comments as well as his vast game knowledge and preference for tanky, supportive junglers.
I highly reccomend making a free account on Twitch.TV. Twitch has a very accessible system for bookmarking channels you enjoy, so you can easily see which of your favorite casters is streaming. Don’t limit your choices to what’s listed here, click the “League of Legends” section under games and browse all current streams. Some of the best streams on Twitch are aspiring summoners just like you and me trying to climb the ranked ladder. If you find one you like, follow their channel and drop me a line in the comments about it.
So why should you watch a game instead of playing it? League of Legends is a complex game with many mechanics all working simultaenously. It can be very difficult to focus on micro-gameplay and big macro map awareness concepts at once and still learn from mistakes when you make them. Watching another game allows you to focus entirely on the skill you’re hoping to work on, and get useful feedback and commentary from more experienced players at the same time. If you’re still unsure, give it a try! The only thing watching streams costs is a little time.