League of Legends is truly a global esport. In Asia especially, where Korea and China throw millions of dollars to retain the best talent, where millions of people tune in to watch the big tournaments and their favorite players stream, League of Legends is a religion.
But in Japan, the island nation just off the coast of the two esports hotbeds, League of Legends esports is still in its nascent phase. Japan has a long history with esports dating back to the heyday of arcades. The country’s players regularly rank among the top in fighting games and other console endeavors. The PC is largely an ignored competitive platform.
Today, Rascal Jesters took one of the first steps towards changing that, becoming the first Japanese League team to practice from their own gaming house.
The move prepares the team for the launch of Japan’s own League of Legends server, announced in September. A dedicated server and localization should go a long way towards pushing a League future in Japan.
The server isn’t live just yet, so teams like Rascal Jesters have to play on North America and Korea right now. The team of five players, plus one sub, play regularly on the NA server, where most are ranked in the high diamond tier. That’s not too bad for players competing with around 200 ping, but it does show the level of play in Japan isn’t up to snuff compared to world-class regions.
Still, it’s fair to blame Japan’s struggles to make an impact in League of Legends on the server problem. While they can play in the China and Korea regions, those ladders are so competitive it makes it tough for Japanese players to feel like they can make an impact. For example, some of the team’s Korean accounts rank in the silver tier.
But whatever their skill level, it’s high time Japan starts taking League seriously.
Image via Rascal Jester