Playing Ball With The Big Boys

Recent controversy has turned public opinion against scrimming in Korea; and I do not believe in this public opinion.

The idea of segregated boot camping has become a serious consideration for many western teams after the conclusion of the League of Legends World Championship group stages. North America and Europe disappointed at this event, and the public opinion has taken the phrase “Boot camp in Korea” on a rollercoaster. The trip was once considered a necessity to even be taken seriously an international LoL tournament. Now, a shockingly high number of people are advocating a segregated boot camp; “Keep it away from Korea.” The idea has not only been adopted by average community folk, but It’s infecting the minds of decision makers. The main reasons are as follows:

  • If you go to Korea, you’re just a copy and can never be as good as the original.
  • Albus NoX Luna didn’t boot camp, and the western teams did. Therefore, Korean boot camps are detrimental. ANX was arguably more successful (pound for pound).
  • Korean teams are “psycho-nationalistic” and will share scrim secrets at the expense of western teams. It’s essentially stealing information that they are not entitled to.

I do not agree with this at all. If you want to be good, you have to play ball with the big boys. Korea is the pinnacle of performance in League of Legends. Practicing against the best is the best way to improve. If scrimming against domestic teams is equivalent to a hyperbolic time chamber, why are North American and European teams not challenging Korean teams? They have eight months of the year to train in the most optimal way.

Practicing against someone does not make you a copy. If an alternate style poses a threat to the Korean style, then boot camping in Korea can prove the new style to be legitimate. If, during that practice, they find the imitation of the Korean style brings them more success, how is that a detriment?

There are also allegations of “scrim sharing” against Korean teams. The loss of confidential strategies is among the most important justifying points for the “anti-boot campers.” However, there is no public evidence to support this claim. On the contrary, circumstantial evidence connects the Western teams to scrim sharing. Team SoloMid banned Zyra against Samsung Galaxy during a pivotal match in the Worlds group stage.

The allegations against TSM scrim sharing are particularly sticky because SGG claims they only played Zyra against other Western teams. Whether either side scrim shared or not, the net effect is still positive for Western boot campers. Western pick-bans and overarching strategies have been, objectively, worse on a historical level. North American pick-bans being “leaked” is similar to Dwayne Wade finding out that Luke Walton is going to try a “sick backward granny shot” against him.

Even if Korea is gaining knowledge or strategies about North American or European teams, the potential gains they can accrue are peanuts compared to what Western teams stand to gain. The white belt cannot reject sparring with the master because he’s scared of the black belt stealing his moves. The freshman basketball player doesn’t refuse practice with the varsity squad because they might steal his layover.

There is no other competitive discipline in existence that rewards practicing with the worst. League of Legends is no different. North America, if you want to stop practicing against Korea, be my guest, but you’ll never outgrow your legacy if you stop playing ball with the big boys.

Do you think boot camping in Korea is good or bad for western teams? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting @GAMURScom

Image credits Riot Flickr.