Aug 19 2016 - 8:14 pm

League of Legends gets its version of the NFL Combine

There’s a new offseason tournament coming to League of Legends, but instead of featuring professional players, it will discover future pros
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

There’s a new offseason tournament coming to League of Legends, but instead of featuring professional players, it will discover future pros.

Today Riot Games revealed what it's calling the 2016 NA Scouting Grounds, an event set in its NA LCS studio in Los Angeles designed to discover new talents by giving them a taste of what it’s like to be a pro.

They won’t make rising talents run the 40, count their reps on the bench press, or take the Wonderlic test like at the NFL Combine, but invited players will receive hands-on attention from LCS pro teams, giving them a chance to sell themselves to their potential future employers.

The top four players on the NA ranked ladder in each of the five positions on the Summoner’s Rift on Oct. 31 will receive an invite to a draft at the LCS studio on Nov. 13 where they will be drafted onto an event team run by LCS franchises like Echo Fox and Team Liquid. The selected players will get a few days of hands-on training by the coaching staff and pros from the team that selected them, culminating in a round robin tournament against the other drafted teams where their talents will be on display for LCS and Challenger teams seeking talent. Video from each match will also be distributed to international teams to give them a chance at scouting the players.

It’s not clear whether fans will be able to watch the in-house tournament, but the fact Riot explicitly stated they’ll send VODs to international teams seems to imply it won’t be publicly broadcast.

In October, Challenger and Master ranked players will receive a survey from Riot Games to confirm player interest and eligibility for the event. Players must be 16 years of age by the start of the 2017 Spring spit of the Challenger Series, must not have competed in more than two professional League matches at any skill level, may not be under contract with a professional team, and must pass Riot’s standard behavior check for LCS and Challenger players.

The Scouting Grounds won’t be coming to Europe this year thanks to the plethora of national leagues in Europe, which already serve as a platform to discover rising talent.

So get ready to grind if you think you’ve got the skills to pay the bills playing League of Legends. Make sure to queue up with your preferred role selected, as even if you fill most games, your primary will be the role Riot will use to determine invites. The only criteria to qualify is the eligibility rules and your rank on the ladder—whether you play every role and every champion or are a one-trick Riven main, this could be your chance to take your game to the next level. 

Today - 9:07 pm

Yes, SKT played Ziggs ADC in a competitive game—and they dominated with him

The current League world champs show us all how OP bot-lane Ziggs can be.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

ADC Ziggs has been spreading like the plague (a really, really annoying plague) through ranked games in League of Legends over the past few weeks, and SK Telecom T1 reminded everyone why they’re the World Champions by taking him into a League Champions Korea game—and destroying their opponents with him.

Jin Air, the team that fell at the hands of the mighty ADC Ziggs in the LCK earlier today, probably thought that SKT’s Bae ‘Bang’ Jun-sik was joking around when he hovered over Ziggs in Champ Select. Surely Ziggs is only a troll pick that streamers play to entertain their audiences or that Bronze players choose because they saw Shiphtur do it once, right? Right?

Wrong.

The irritating, familiar sound of Ziggs saying “This’ll be a blast!” rang loud as Bang locked him in, ready to take the AP terror down into the bot lane. It was a bloody sight to see, as Bang dominated his lane opponents. At the end of the laning phase, Bang had 3-0’d his adversary as the explosive-crazed Yordle. He won trades, outplayed tower-dives, and showed us all just how possible it is to take an AP mage into a role overrun by Marksman champions and thrive.

Was it because Ziggs is OP in that particular position? Was it, perhaps, because the state of ADCs is so pathetic that you can take any old champion into that role and do better than a traditional ADC? Actually, it’s a little bit of both.

This Ziggs pick may begin a trend of meta-breaking within professional play, and because of that casual players will follow suit. Soon, we may see more mages in bot lane, more marksmen up top, and even some supports pick Janna in the jungle.

Ziggs is an important lesson for the future of League. Playing him in the highest level of competition suggests that there may be more instances like this Ziggs game—where pro players figure out ways to use unorthodox champion picks to their advantage.

Sometimes, the meta doesn’t have to be followed—if you can find another champion to play a specific role well enough. A few seasons ago, after all, you’d dodge a ranked lobby if you saw a Rumble lock the jungle role, and now you wouldn’t bat an eye.

Love him or hate him, Ziggs is here to stay, and since the god-team of SKT has now played him in a pro game, you can expect even more ADC Ziggs appearances in your Bronze ranked games. He even has the second highest win percentage out of any other ADC, according to League stats website Champion.gg. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble winning against him, you could always go ADC Syndra.

Today - 7:48 pm

Build the next SKT in this LoL manager game

LOL GM gives you the chance to manage a professional League of Legends team.
Connor Smith
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

For many League of Legends fans, debating the latest roster changes and managerial hires is almost second nature.

The tongue-in-cheek idea that redditors are the real experts became so popular it spawned an ill-fated attempt to buy and operate a team based on the community’s whims. “Team Reddit” failed due to the logistical nightmares of crowdfunding an actual esports organization. But the initial progress showed many wanted to be more involved with the managerial side of esports.

They might not be managers of a real team, but now fans have a chance to play as one. LOL GM, a free general manager simulator where players pick a team, assemble rosters, and balance budgets in order to further their esports dynasty. Reddit user /u/MyCoder, who asked to keep his real name off the record, developed the game—along with several other sports management games—with help from the source code of a Basketball GM simulator.

MyCoder began developing manager games after he asked the creator of Basketball GM if he could create similar games for other sports. After he created games for baseball, football, and college basketball, a Reddit user came to him and suggested League.

He reached out to the League subreddit in September 2015 and gauged interest. His post received 1,000 upvotes and a lot of interest. Although this wasn’t MyCoder’s first GM project, he understood an esports management game would bring its own unique challenges.

“When you first think about it, you have to wrap your head around it because it's kind of a new thing,” he said. “The first thing I did was just think of the attributes that mattered. Once you got those down, you started thinking how those feed into performance in the game to create the simulation. Once you have that down, it pretty much flows like any other sport.”

These attributes became the core of the game, like overall skill, potential, and how a player can invest in analysts and coaches to maximize the team’s abilities.

The developer had lots of help from the community. Reddit user /u/AvenirGG, who convinced him to develop the League-inspired game, made a subreddit for the game, which drove discussion toward improving it. The first release came in December 2015, but the community helped push constant updates every day.

MyCoder, who by his own admission was "relatively new" to MOBAs, said the subreddit was essential in helping make sure he didn't miss "obvious things."

“When people are playing, things just jump out at them that are really crucial and that you can fix,” he said. “I ended up polishing everything... I made the game simulation more accurate and polished the free-agency aspect and the game in general.”

The player begins by selecting a region, team, and adjusting the patch settings. The base game uses imaginary team names like “Faith Gaming” and “Sky10.” But several users helped create custom file packs for players to modify the game with actual LCS team names and pro players.

According to the developer, team insiders also helped shed light on actual team’s expenses, losses, and profits, in order to improve the realism of the game.

While the goal for a manager is to win every year, MyCoder says the difficulty varies based on the starting team.

“In League of Legends, it's very top-heavy,” he said. “The best teams usually get the best players, so it should be extremely difficult to be a bad team and get good. You don't really have an advantage over the good teams. Why would these teams want to play with you when they can go to the team that just won the championship that's missing a player?”

MyCoder says the key to a successful future is investing in young players with high potential scores and develop them in the years to come.

“Keep (young players) with you for three years and hope they turn into something good,” he said “That's the general approach. You can do some trading around that to try and speed up things.”

The refined engine works well, and the game often rewards calculated strategies. Still, the developer does see ways to improve it.

“The main roadblock is user interface,” he said. “The game itself, if you compare it to other ‘manager’ games that are actually on Steam, is probably better than anything that's on Steam right now. It's just the user interface that needs an overhaul.”

Better UI could also include a tutorial or advisor, which would make the game easier to digest. The developer also wants to improve the “game” inside the game.

“The general manager is primarily with roster construction,” MyCoder said. “Free-agency, trading and the draft—if you had it. Then there's also a coach that handles the game-to-game management. The whole coach side is what could really be expanded. Give a lot more control over the actual game and the strategy. That's just the natural progression of where it would go.”

Whether you want to forge the next esports dynasty or are just looking for something to pass the time, LOL GM is a fun and free way to explore the endless possibilities of esports management—without the scams and financial risks of the real deal.