A Look into the
League of Legends Japan League
I’ll be honest here, I would consider myself a bit of a Japanophile, I took language courses for about 5 years, visited and had a home stay for around a month. I love not only the otaku things like anime, manga, and video games, but I love the culture, the cooking, the way they view the world, their sense of beauty in both a modern and traditional sense, so with not much else to watch recently, I decided to feed my own curiosity and check out the newly formed Japanese League.
A quick break down of the league before I get into my actual thoughts about it;
- The league itself is comprised of 6 teams
- DetonatioN FocusMe
- DetonatioN RabbitFive
- Ozone Rampage
- 7th Heaven
- Rascal Jokers
- Salvage Javelin
- Each day 3 games are played, best of one, matches are held on Saturday
- Top 3 teams qualify for the final, first place team getting a by, Second and Third play a semi final (Bo3) to face the first place team (Bo5)
- 10 Week Season, double round robin
- They are considered a wildcard team and will need to compete for a Wildcard spot at worlds
From what I understand, although the League is just starting out, there is already a lot of fervor and excitement around the idea of a League of Legends scene in Japan. A great article by Jessica Player of Dignitas was really what tipped me over from being curious, to making popcorn and a sandwich, sitting down and spending a day watching 6 games.
So with that set up, what is my verdict? Well the quick and dirty answer are two thoughts;
1. It’s a brand new league, many of these players just now becoming pros, and they are only two weeks in.
2. The quality of the players themselves, not the worst league I’ve seen, but they have a lot of growing to do.
Now I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m now an expert in this league, I’m not, I don’t know what’s going on behind the scene, I don’t know player stories or team stories, I don’t know what practicing or management, or any of these factors that happen around the game are like, these are just my thoughts coming out of watching 2 weeks of games.
For me, whenever I check out a new League, my barometer of judging games, and judging how competitive the league is, is looking at how much the games resemble solo queue. What I mean by this is, do people just fall into standard lanes, do standard strategies of someone just has to carry, doesn’t matter who, more of a focus on individual play rather than team play or objective based play. Do teams ever look like they don’t know what to do next and need something to happen rather than trying to make it happen themselves, and although many of these apply to what I watched, this is not the worst league I’ve watched. I would still put them in my tier 3 level teams, and personally I think the Oceania region (Australia) and the Brazil league are the strongest of the Tier 3 regions, but I think the Japanese league has a lot of potential, and some of their players really did impress me.
Right away I think the 2 teams that stood out among the crowd are the two first place teams, the ones that have a score of 2-0, DetonatioN FocusMe, and DetonatioN Rabbitfive.
Starting with DetonatioN FocusMe (DeT FM) I think this is the team that will really stand out as the gold standard for this region. As a team they looked the most coordinated, they had the better team fights, and they had pretty impressive objective control. This is a team that was still using a lot of solo queue play, focusing on team fighting and trying to simply overpower their opponents, but I think they did it well, and seemed to have the best communication, chaining together spells and picking apart the other teams. Their ADC Yutapongo and their top lane BonziN were the two stand out players of this team. Both of them understanding the position they play and what they need to do to win the fights.
Moving onto the Rabbits, (DeT RF) they remind me in many ways of the old Starhorn Royal Club or CLG, where they had a monster of an ADC who can win the entire game by himself and crush everyone under him, and the entire team plan was to feed this guy, protect him, take a bullet for him so he doesn’t get hit, just make sure he doesn’t die. They are a bit of a one dimensional team, the only player that stood out to me other than the ADC Zerost, was their jungler Awaker, who is the other play maker on the team, but again, it’s all setting up for their ADC to clean up and snowball, but right now with this young league, it’s a style that is working, and the team works well with this style.
My ending summery with my experience is that this is a league with some good potential, some good players, and it’s a league that is heading in the right direction, and making the right steps into being a respected and professional league. I’d be curious to see some of these teams play on a bigger stage and against other regions, not just to be picked apart by the best Korean or Chinese teams, but it’s hard to judge their relative level compared to say the Latin America league, or the NA LCS, since they have yet to play in any sort of international competition.
For now, it was a fun experience, the production was very top notch, the casters and analysts knew what they were doing, and were insightful with what was going on (those Japanese classes just paid for themselves right there) and again, this is a new born league with a lot of room to grow. I might personally check back in in a few months, watch the playoffs and take the temperature of how much that league has grown.