Jun 6 2014 - 1:58 pm

Europe's esports bar chain just keeps getting bigger

The esports bar is a simple concept
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

The esports bar is a simple concept. Its patrons don't watch people kick or throw balls around on a field somewhere. Instead, they're watching fantasy and sci-fi avatars duke it out on digital battlefields in games like League of Legends and StarCraft 2.

That may not sound like the basis of a steady business, until you look at the numbers. People watched 2.4 billion hours of esports last year. So why not spend some of them chilling at a bar, downing a beer with a couple friends?

That’s the environment Meltdown eSports Bar, founded in May of 2012 in Paris, provides. And its proving that the beer and video games combo can be a model for success. After just a year of operation, so many pro gaming fans were coming that the bar had to move into a spot five times bigger. Locations in Berlin and London soon followed.

Four more franchises will open in France this year. According to Sophia “Foxy” Metz, one of Meltdown's founders, eight more locations are planned to open in Europe by the middle of 2015.

“The very first franchise to open should be Montpellier in July,” Metz said in an interview with mystarcraft.de. “The venue looks awesome and the crew is already known amongst the eSports community in France, so I have no doubt it will be a very successful place.”

Metz and her partner, Yann-Cédric Mainguy, caught on to the Barcraft phenomenon in 2011. Starting in the United States, Barcrafts bought esports, and specifically Starcraft 2, into the bar environment with esports events on specific nights in traditional bars. Metz and Mainguy started BarCraft Europe to host their own gatherings. But despite hosting successful events, the pair struggled with bar owners who did not understand esports. They needed a dedicated venue, and so Meltdown was born.

There will be seven locations opened later this year, but the demand for more is real. Metz says they’ve received over 60 applications for franchises, and expect more to pile in. While France is leading the way, probably due to the brand’s initial success in Paris, their vision isn’t limited to Europe.

Despite spawning the Barcraft movement, the United States proves to be a tricky market for a venture like Meltdown. For one thing, the drinking age is 21, higher than in most places in Europe, and with the esports audience trending a bit younger in League of Legends than it did during the heyday of BarCrafts featuring Starcraft, that cuts out a lot of potential customers.

Opening in the United States is a “big challenge,” Metz said. “However, we already have projects for a few cities there, and we’re really looking forward to more.” Another avenue for expansions is the booming Asian esports market, but cultural differences may make the model moot there. Still, Metz says they are “not excluding the possibility to open there in the near future.”

Meltdown attracts patrons by broadcasting numerous hours of esports content while serving up game-themed cocktails, and also hosting its own events: weekly tournaments for games like Hearthstone and League of Legends, game launch parties (for the Monster Hunter 3 launch, dozens of bar patrons huddled around the tabled tapping their Nintendo 3DSs), and meetups with popular esports personalities,

The bar's drinks are affectionately named for features of different games - the “Stimpack”, named after the Starcraft marine’s favorite drug, or the fire-colored “Shyvana”, a red colored cocktail named for League’s molten dragon warrior.

The bar even recruited its own mascot, “retired” Starcraft legend Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri. A renowned party animal, it makes an odd kind of sense to see the good natured Satouri playing from a bar, drink in hand. Satouri has earned nearly $250,000 during his prolific career. And he'll be needing some of that cash—his new contract does not include free drinks.

Metz won’t rule out the addition of more players to the Meltdown esports team. “But our focus will always remain our venues,” she said. “The team is just a bonus we want to give our community!”

And those venues, starting to pop up around the world, seem to be delivering on the Meltdown promise: “making esports a great party at all times.”

Photo via Meltdown London/Facebook

Today - 1:25 am

Get your Red Envelopes ready—the Lunar Revel event in League starts today

Riot is kicking off the 2017 Lunar Revel with some slick new skins.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

The Lunar New Year is a sacred, historic holiday that is celebrated by nations in the far east. It marks the beginning of the year based on the cycles of the moon. There’s dancing, festivals, parades, but much more importantly: A special League of Legends event. Why is that so important? Because you can get sweet new skins, of course!

The Lunar Revel Event is a yearly occurrence in League that features shiny new goodies to buy in-game. The event was announced and started today, so after you update the client, you’ll be able to take part in the festivities.

1) Free Icon

That’s right, for the small cost of going to the official Lunar Revel web page, you can claim a free Summoner Icon! The interactive home page acts as the hub for the Lunar Revel event, and you can click through the menu to see all the features. There’s even some lore tying each of this year’s Lunar Revel skins to their respective champions.

2) Champion Skins

There are three skins coming out for the Lunar Revel event this year: Garen, Azir, and Vi. Each has a matching Summoner Icon available in the store.

Garen’s sword and rad man-bun make this skin what it is: Awesome. When he spins to win, a green dragon swirls around him. When he ults, the giant sword that falls from the heavens... well, it’s green.

Azir seems to be more of a themed skin specific to this year, as it’s the Year of the Rooster—and Azir is as rooster-like as any League champion gets. His soldiers are also made to match his skin, sporting golden armor.

Vi’s theme is “the green demon” and when she ults, a big green dragon swirls up into the air and slams back into the ground as she does. This one’s our favorite, but mostly because it’s the only time we’re ever going to see Vi in a ponytail.

Not only are those three new skins available now, but past Lunar Revel skins and bundles are in the shop as well.

3) Crafting

A brand new Lunar Revel crafting system will also be in the client until the end of the event. It uses the same crafting page as usual, where you open chests with keys you earn from playing games and combine shards to form skins and champions. You can buy a Revel Red Envelope for 250 RP and visit the crafting page in your client to turn it into a skin shard and one random relic.

The relics come in three types: the Pauldron Relic, the Golden Relic, and the Gauntlet Relic. Once you have all three, you can combine them into Epic Skin Shards (1350 RP skins), random skin permanents, Gemstones, or Hextech Chests and Keys.

4) Merch

Finally, you can visit the Lunar Revel merch store to check out some IRL event goodies. Want a shirt featuring each Chinese Zodiac with League champions instead of the usual animals? Well it’s in the merch store, as well as a collectible figurine of Lunar Revel Azir.

The event is running from now until Feb. 2, so be sure to log into the game and check it out!

Jan 19 2017 - 9:07 pm

After pre-season updates made the Jungle worse, Riot says ‘oops’ and promises to fix it

Riot’s dev team explains why the state of the jungle is so broken and how they plan on dealing with it.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

During the League of Legends pre-season, Riot made big changes to address some glaring issues within the Jungle. But it only made the situation worse.

In somewhat of a “My bad!” moment, Lead Champion Designer Andrei 'Meddler' van Roon explained what backfired with the jungler role. In his post, he comprehensively lists all of the reasons that the jungler might just be the most broken role in the game (sorry ADCs!).

The community has been complaining about the state of the jungler for a while now, but this is the first official answer we’ve seen from Riot on the matter. Riot said it very simply, and very directly in the Nexus post.

“We believe jungler influence over game outcome is too high.”

So what exactly is wrong with the jungler?

Impact

Perhaps the most significant issue with junglers before the pre-season was that farm-obsessed junglers became much too powerful. Monsters were too easy to kill relative to how great the rewards of gold and experience were. The dominant tactic for junglers became out-farming the enemy jungler, and whoever fell behind ended up hindering their team dramatically.

Back then, the rest of the team would attempt to help their jungler get ahead by getting an early kill on the enemy jungler, setting back their progress considerably. The team began to revolve around the jungler. This was a contradiction to how the jungler had been perceived in earlier seasons—as a supporting role designed to gank and help their teammates in lanes do well.

Riot wanted to fix that, so it lengthened spawn times on monster camps and made them harder to kill (but increased the rewards the camps give to compensate). The idea to push junglers to gank more than they farmed worked a little too well.

Not only are junglers ganking too much, but they also survive way too long. With new tools like the Honeyfruit plant and gaining health back with every smite, junglers just won’t die. They are able to farm more camps for more rewards and gank more lanes without losing enough health to warrant going back to base. This led to junglers gaining too much experience—with level advantages on lanes that they’ve never had before.

Game agency

The term “game agency” has been tossed around a lot lately. First, with the current feelings that ADCs are going through, and now, with junglers.

In a basic sense, the term “game agency” in this case is just another term for a role’s identity within the game. What purpose do they serve, and is it unique enough to feel important? The issue with ADCs right now is that they don’t feel important enough to the state of the game to have a unique identity (aside from being Lee Sin’s punching bag).

Junglers, however, have the opposite issue. Junglers and jungle champions have an identity, but it’s such a strong, outstanding identity that it overshadows the unique strengths and weaknesses of the other roles. They have too much raw power. It’s to the point that laners have become afraid of making moves on their lane opponents unless their jungler is preparing to gank, when normally they would only hold back if they knew they were outmatched.

This has something to do with the extreme rate at which junglers gank now, but combining that with the high sustainability, high damage items, and high level scaling makes for a frightening amount of power for one role to have.

Plans to reduce the overall power of the jungle have yet to be announced, but Riot did confirm that the plan is to knock the role down a few pegs.


So what can be done?

Well, Riot is taking responsibility for all the power it’s given the jungle role.

It is administering some short-term solutions, including lowering jungle experience rewards, cutting sustain across the board, and increasing the damage that jungle monsters deal.

Junglers won’t be able to live in the jungle for the first 10 minutes of the game without heading back to base, they won’t hit a huge power spike by leveling harder than laners can on jungle camps alone, and they won’t be able to gank quite as much.

These solutions likely aren’t the long-term solution. There will still be junglers that can clear the jungle faster, and we may just end up where we were before the pre-season—Farming Simulator: Jungle Edition. Farm-frenzy junglers could rise to the top, but luckily, it likely wouldn’t be quite as bad this time.

A long-term plan is in the works, and hopefully Riot maintains its clear and open communication as the situation progresses.