The LCS needs a Villain
A new season is upon us in League of Legends. New and old teams with new rosters are ready to face off against each other on the big stage. Teams from around the world are participating in their respective region to earn the precious circuit points needed to participate in the World Championship. Seeing each region playing to win one more game to make it higher in the standings is fun to watch. But the LCS is lacking one thing that other competitive video gaming scenes sometimes have; drama. The lack of drama in the LCS is a missed opportunity for the scene to be more appealing to watch, and the lack of a villain and overprotective fans are the cause of it.
Drama has many meanings. The League scene has experienced its fair share of drama over the years involving the League of Legends subreddit. But in this article, the term drama refers to situations orchestrated by people within the LCS, specifically the players. Drama is defined as “any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results”. Drama such as team rivalries, trash-talking and reunion matchup with previous teammates are the types of situations being refer to in this article. Every new season means possible roster swaps during the off season. This is one of the main reason that rivalries slowly disappear between teams. The teams stay the same but the players might be different, making the previous rivalries between the two teams invalid. A good example of this fallout is the rivalry that once existed between Moscow 5 and Fnatic.
One of the best rivalry to ever form in the LCS
Moscow 5, now known as Gambit Gaming, was one of the strongest teams to play League of Legends. The original roster of Darien, Diamondprox, Alex Ich, Genja and Edward in their prime was a world contender. Each laner had a reputation for their performance and even now their legacy is mentioned when talking about the history of competitive League of Legends. While Fnatic and SK Gaming may have their rivalry of their own, the rivalry of Fnatic and Moscow 5/Gambit Gaming was more headline worthy. Before the collapse of Gambit Gaming and the reform of Fnatic, these two teams met each other in the finals of the European LCS finals more often than any other teams. Seeing two juggernauts of different playstyles clash to claim the title of being the Europe was thrilling, and it was the rivalry between the two teams that made it so. The storylines that would be written from the result of the match were intriguing. Who is better; Alex Ich or xPeke? Who is the number one support; Yellowstar or Edward? The rivalry allowed for these kinds of healthy discussions to take place within the community, creating the anticipation for the future match-up. However, the rivalry that was Moscow 5 versus Fnatic is no more. Both teams went under reconstruction, leaving only a few of the original players in the roster. The rivalry won’t be the same as back in the day if all the actors are not present to fulfill their role. We can only hope for a reunion match of the classic Moscow 5 versus Fnatic, but it is nothing but a dream for fans. Where is this type of rivalries in the current LCS season?
We need more of this in the LCS
Rivalries comes in many forms. Whether it be between teams or players, healthy rivalries are great for players and fans alike. Players could use the rivalry as a motivational tool to improve and the fans enjoy the drama that results from the heated rivalry. However, there seems to be a lack of rivalries in the current season of LCS and has been replaced with “take down the fan favorites” like TSM or Fnatic. Everybody knows the past rivalry between TSM and CLG which still exists today. If Europe had Fnatic and Moscow 5, North America had TSM and CLG. Seeing Doublelift, the marksman of CLG, trash-talk in Riot video features was great and raised the anticipation on how Doublelift will react to the result of the match. But in today’s competitive League of Legend scene, trash-talking is frowned upon as bad manners and the fans will antagonize any trash-talker or what they consider rude behavior. The players are scared to trash-talk as the backlash from the community could negatively impact their psyche and image in the scene. This resulted in the lack of drama between teams and players and ultimately made the viewing experience a little less exciting. The games themselves were entertaining, but it was missing that cherry on top from making it the “must-watch” matches. The LCS needs a villain. Someone to instigate healthy trash-talking, create rivalries and make the scene more entertaining to watch.
Peter "Doublelift" Yiliang; the original North American villain
A good example of a villain would be Doublelift. He was confident in his skills to call other players trash for being inferior to him. Unfortunately for Doublelift, he didn’t have many successes in CLG in terms of winning titles. This made him tone down the trash-talking to a point where he does not trash-talk anymore. At least he tried. A villain needs to have the skills to back up his comments and know the difference between trash-talking and banter. Someone that isn’t afraid to stand by his statements and live with the aftermath whether it be good or bad. A good example can be seen in the fighting game community where rivalries are in no short supply.
TSM Leffen is a great example of the villain archetype in a competitive video game scene. Before he was picked up by TSM, he made a name for himself as a “God Slayer”, taking down the best of the best in the Melee scene. One of the most well-known acts of Leffen happened at this year’s Apex. Apex is one of, if not, the biggest Super Smash Bros. tournament in America. Liquid Chillindude, one of the best Fox players in the scene, challenged Leffen to an exhibition match. Chillindude is essentially the “good guy” in the Melee scene. Chillindude going after Leffen, who has been causing a ruckus as the “villain”, was huge. However, the matchup wasn’t started by Chillindude. It was Leffen’s infamous twitter bashing that sparked the flames of war. After having some choice words for Chillindude, Leffen was issued a challenge to a first-to-5 exhibition where the loser would give up the right to use the original Fox colors at a tournament ever again. This exhibition raised the hype for the tournament through the roof as the fans and audiences alike were anxious to see who would have the last laugh. Giving up the usage of a character’s original color might not sound like a big deal, but it was merely a disguise for Chillindude to prove that he isn’t inferior to Leffen and shut him up once and for all. Twitter trash-talks were tweeted, a rap video was made and came the day of the tournament.
(photo credit to Jason Durso)
Just look at that smug face on Leffen's face; I love it
In the end, Leffen walked out as the victor, sweeping Chillindude 5-0, making it a bit of a let-down after all the healthy trash-talking that went on social media. The match was dubbed as one of the best moments in competitive smash history. But the fun didn’t end here; there was a new challenger approaching. The Super Smash Bros. Melee champion of Evolution 2013, the world championship for fighting games, Cloud 9 Mang0, issued a challenge to Leffen’s, trying to restore the pride of USA. But this wasn’t just a match for pride; Mango put one thousand dollars to raise up the ante. This made the crowd go insane and made the match worth watching. Mango would fall to Leffen in the end, but the two player’s ended with mutual respect for each other. Mango brushed off losing one thousand dollars light heartedly, and Leffen, while gloating his new financial gain on twitter, still had respect for Mango as one of the best player’s to play the game. This is prime example of where there is no downsides to trash-talking and conflicts between players.
Trash-talking is only a problem if the bystanders makes it into a problem. While Leffen’s trash-talking sometimes goes too far, they are just words. Words do hurt, but criticism and harsh comments are a given in a competitive environment. Leffen stood by his statements and proved that he was better than Chillindude. He was confident in his skills to back up his claims and proved it with his actions. Trash-talking can be used as a tool to raise hype for a tournament or a match. Apex 2015 was a great tournament for the Smash. Community, but having the drama between Leffen, Chillindude and Mango made it more memorable. It even helped Leffen get picked up by Team SoloMid. Drama will make people want to see what will happen and tune in. For example, the viewer numbers for the El Clásico, the match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the two Spanish Football team rivals, is way higher than other games because people are interested in witnessing the rivalry. There is a negative connotation about trash-talking which people perceive it as bad behavior and should not be practiced in a professional environment. However, this is a missed opportunity to make competitive League of Legends more entertaining for the audience. Unfortunately, the fans are the ones preventing this change.
Fans are one of the reasons for the decline of the drama within competitive League of Legends. Fans can be very protective about their favorite teams. If you criticize or make trash-talk like comments about any of the player’s, prepare to face the wrath of the fans as they will not take it sitting down. The famous example of this is the fans of TSM, showing their care for their team from anyone that badmouths them. There are many people that have experienced the wrath of TSM fans due to expressing their opinions. While TSM fans have every right to defend their team, their protectiveness can be a bit extreme at times. Being a pro means having the mentality to endure any criticism and negative comments while playing at the absolute personal best. The players are young but if they can’t handle the heat, they should consider other career options. Fans are not the player’s moms. They should not try to silence any trash-talking or criticisms from players and outsiders to protect their child. Fans should support their players and teams through encouragements and not speak on behalf of them by shutting out any criticism and trash-talking. Let all conflicts be decided on the big stage.
The League of Legends community wants to promote a positive environment filled with good sportsmanship like behavior, showing a positive image to the audience and the world. I think it would set a better example if we show the world that we are mature enough to handle any non-ill internal conflicts created from trash-talking and accept the aftermath for what it is. I would rather have the public see the League of Legends community with events that unfolded in Apex 2015 than any of the recent dramas that stirred up in the League of Legends subreddit. It would be fun to explain to newcomers of exciting events and matches that happened rather than trying to trying defend the community through sugar coated words of why someone became public enemy number one.
The LCS needs a villain like Leffen to stir things up. Someone who you would love to hate, but too good at the game to hate. Bring back the rivalry we used to have back in old days. Bring back the trash-talking which stirred up hype and anticipation for upcoming matches. People might have changed but the game has not. Whether it be good or bad, the community should embrace the interactions and dialogues that takes place within the scene and just enjoy the ride. History is filled with drama and events that took place is what makes them memorable. Here’s hoping that the stories to be written in the future will have more memorable moments.