Riot's analyst desk needs a villain
The League of Legends World Championship really made it big in 2013.
Sure, Worlds had been contested in 2011 and 2012, but those were smaller, less organized tournaments. 2013 was a landmark year for competitive League—the start of the LCS in Europe and North America, along with similar leagues around the world, led to more organized qualifying for Worlds. The format was improved, the production leveled up big time, and the final was held at a sold-out Staples Center. That was the year League arrived.
A lot has changed since then. The LCK was founded in its present format, the LCS continues to grow and evolve, and Worlds keeps setting new benchmarks. In nearly every aspect, things are better now than they've ever been—except one: The analyst desk.
Remember the Korean hype train?
Riot's analyst desk does fantastic work. The level of technical knowledge has grown rapidly. And each analyst and caster ties their analysis together into coherent stories that include context and history. Add in the hype and review videos, the work done by the game casters, and all the other aspects of the production, and you get one hell of a show.
But there's one ingredient that's missing. In 2013, LCK caster Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles, one of the most beloved casters of all time, pulled out a creative stunt on the analyst desk at the Worlds final. Wearing a conductor's hat, he happily gave out tickets to the "Korean hype train" to his fellow analysts. And they were willing to oblige him, each throwing out their ticket to side with the Chinese team.
Throughout his career, MonteCristo has never shied away from being the heel among analysts. Right or wrong—and in the case of Worlds 2013, he was dead right—he adds value to the desk by presenting a different opinion. He sticks to his guns and isn't afraid to challenge other casters and analysts whose views differ from his own.
The current analyst desk could learn from his perspective.
MonteCristo was beloved as a caster because of his lack of fear and propensity to speak bluntly. Of course those qualities have also put him in hot water. He frequently butted heads with Riot on a number of issues, and those eventually led to his exit from the League scene.
Losing MonteCristo was a big blow that hasn't really yet been overcome. While the current analysts and casters do a fantastic job, there isn't that person who's willing to put his or her name on the line and present an alternate opinion. Sure, analysts still disagree on their picks, but they do so in a much more benign—and boring—way. There's no more Korean hype train to be found.
Fortunately, that's a problem that can be rectified, even without MonteCristo. Riot has invested a lot into its production. It should invest in helping analysts come up with unique angles. It should encourage analysts to disagree with each other, and construct creative ways to frame those arguments. Sometimes analysts may even feel compelled to criticize Riot—they should have the freedom to do so. Having more third-party analysts, like Chris "PapaSmithy" Smith, an OGN caster who was a staple at this year's Worlds, will help as well.
At the end of the day, Worlds is a show. MonteCristo understood that, and he transformed himself into the ultimate showman. And many League fans want to see someone new take up that mantle again.