The Advent of an Esport
Season 1 — IEM’s multitude of music
It was the first ever season of this little known game called League of Legends. The landscape was a wilderness and as such, there was no official theme. However, without Riot’s League Championship Series, the open circuit allowed other organisations to create their own tournaments such as Dreamhack, IGN Pro League and Electronic Sports League. With ESL announcing IEM World Championships, it looked to be the main source for League of Legends esports. Yes, I know, this extended into Season 2, but let’s get to that later. IEM’s songs, specifically the opening theme and the winning theme (go to 1:11:55 in the video link above), would illustrate what I mean. Again, yes, this is from the tournament after Season 2 ended, but ESL used the same music after each tournament even in Season 1. The music here would display the wilderness that was League of Legends before Riot’s chains bounded the freedom of organisations to mark their place in this game.
The Anthem of Duration
Season 2 — “Silver Scrapes” by Danny McCarthy
That’s right. The most important beat for classic League of Legends fans that resonated in their hearts during the time of Season 2. Curious as this may be, this song would not gain much traction if it wasn’t for the ironic collapse of production in Riot’s side. This anthem instigates so many memories, thoughts and icons to the League of Legends esports world. Orginating from the marathon that was the Semifinals of CLG.EU vs Team WE, which lasted more than a day due to technical difficulties, this series (and by extension Silver Scrapes) gave fans great moments – from Henrik “Froggen” Hansen’s Anivia dance to Jatt and Deman’s talks about the game and frustrations. With each game being delayed and replayed, Silver Scrapes would play whenever Deman stated “See you in a bit.” It has come to the point that if a best-of-three or best-of-five series reaches its final game, Silver Scrapes is the song to play as spectators sit and await the start of the final game. This song is not only meant for older fans to reminisce about the struggles of Season 2 and empathise with the players reaching the last hurdle, it also represents the duration of this landscape. That despite these faults, we managed. We managed to go through them and fought out the duration.
The Rise of a New King
Season 3 — No music (silence)
In the first two seasons, there were literally no theme songs that Riot officially announced to the world. The songs people remember from these eras are merely iconic songs that emphasised that year and its accomplishments. In Season 3, however, I felt there was no song, no tune that could remind me of that year. I wondered and pondered why that may be. It’s because of that one man, the once-in-a-generation prodigy, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. It’s only fitting that in the year that gave birth to the most dominant and iconic player that ever graced this game, there would be no theme song. His sheer power would suppress any meaningful music that I could think of. If I had to choose, it would probably be OGN’s winning beats similar to IEM’s Season 1. There is no one that has matched Faker’s quick rise and there likely never wil be. He is just that good. Season 3 is not summed up by a song, it cannot be. It was the year a prodigy had been discovered, nay, the year Faker had been born.
The Song Bridging Dreams and Reality
Season 4 — “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons
If Season 3 rid the world of music, Season 4 brought it back tenfold. This was the year that mainstream media took interest into League of Legends. European talk shows would invite pro players to talk about their craft, notably SK Gaming’s Christoph “nRated” Seitz and sport professionals such as Rick Fox and Gordon Hayward would state their passion for the game. With this song, the mainstream would know the game. Imagine Dragons performing this song allowed that. Korea, dubbed the Mecca of esports, would be the home of the 2014 World Championship. All of this allowed “Warriors” to be that song that justified all these new events to occur. Truly one of the best, if not the best, Worlds that Riot has produced thus far. The amount of epic that resonated from each lyric, “But you always knew that you’d be the one that work while they all play” and “We are the warriors that built this town”, further elucidated the manifestation of a self-sustaining growing sport to both fans and strangers alike. Even more so, this was the year that the world saw Samsung White. Being possibly the most dominant team that played the game, even more so than the previous year’s SKT where Faker took residence, Samsung had individual player talent that was completely unmatched. Even Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok showed poise with his teleport plays and champion ocean. This era is an era to be remembered for the ages.
The Celebration of Strength
Season 5 — “ Worlds Collide” by Nicki Taylor
It had finally happened. The fall of Korea. China finally beat out Korea in MSI 2015 after losing to them in each international tournament before this. Europe emerged with Fnatic, a powerhouse the West has never seen. Taiwan brewed up its talent each year and North America finally saw legacy team CLG win a domestic championship. It looked as if Korea may not win worlds this year. As the lyrics sang “Can we bring to fall the giants, can we make the final call?” everyone anticipated a new region as the dominant force, however, it was not meant to be. This instrumental lullaby of each major region finally holding its own would not come to fruition. It was the year of Korea once again. When everyone thought Korea was at its weakest, the finals in Berlin saw only Korean squads. SKT vs KOO Tigers. How was this possible? The song’s title, Worlds Collide, meant that each region would clash blows all the way towards the finals. But this Korean dynasty? It wasn’t about the world’s strength. It reinforced the untouchable, powerful nature of Korean League of Legends.
The Upbeat into History
Season 6 — “ Ignite” by Zedd
The general consensus right now as of Sept. 26th 2016 is that this song is…far from good. However, it has its merits. There are amazing visuals and a smooth voice that create some suspense. The main issue I have with the song is the random “drops” that appear every few verses. My friend mentioned how it’s similar to “Spectrum” with its random drops, but there is a vocal extension that makes it seem lasting in Spectrum. I may not be a music expert, but I feel this is one aspect that separates this from being an amazing EDM song. The visuals though, man, it’s awesome. The track goes down memory lane with awesome moments, triggered or not, your mind will be satisfied. This year leading up to Worlds will be full of surprises and possibly, the random drops signify this notion. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case, but if I follow that logic, I can see it as something reasonable. North America’s No. 2 finish at MSI, Taiwan’s continued dominance over Korea, Europe’s embarrassing fall, China’s redemption and Korea’s stagnancy as the best. Only one region managed to not defy logic and that was Korea. We will see though. Will this Worlds echo the dismay that the community feels with the song? Will something of historical significance not involving Korea finally happen at the world’s biggest stage?
Photo Credit: Riot Games, Inven, ESL