Dec 10 2013 - 5:47 pm

Why eSports matter

Before the Daily Dot launched in August 2011, most major media treated the online world as a curiosity, a sideshow
Kevin Morris
Dot Esports

Before the Daily Dot launched in August 2011, most major media treated the online world as a curiosity, a sideshow. But day after day, we're reminded of just how real the Internet's influence on lives is, as it affects everything from our personal privacy to international politics and security. Just ask Edward Snowden.

No group understands the power of the Internet as community builder better than the fans of competitive video games, otherwise known as eSports. It’s hardwired into their system.

Paul Graham, the Silicon Valley investor behind legendary startup incubator Y Combinator, saw something very special in Justin Kan and Emmet Shear. The pair of Yale grads had an ambitious plan to reinvent the notion of reality television in the Internet era: They'd strap a camera to Kan's head, and stream his life over the Internet. Graham seeded the venture with $50,000 in funding, and in short order Kan was "lifestreaming" to the world. The idea was so novel that international viewers flooded his channel and Kan became something of a mini-celebrity. But as Justin.tv grew, it became very clear that their initial plan to create a kind of Internet network of lifestreamers was failing to catch on. People's lives were kind of boring.

But there was one community on Justin.tv doing something quite unexpected, and growing quickly. Using special software, gamers were streaming their video game sessions. Video games, as generation after generation of kids can tell you, are very much not boring. Among the most popular were the eSports matches, where the world's best players in games like Starcraft 2 would face off against one another. Seeing this rapid growth, Justin.tv committed fully to video game streaming in 2011, launching sister site Twitch. Nowadays, Twitch sees more than 40 million unique visitors a month and has more than 700,000 broadcasters, and it’s growing fast.

Twitch's growth is just one minor anecdote from the online universe of competitive gaming. ESports fans, desperate to watch their favorite stars compete, had figured how to stream well before Twitch or even Justin.tv. It's been part of a long-standing pattern: Where traditional media fails to step up, the eSports community turns to the Internet to fill in the void. TeamLiquid, a fan-run StarCraft forum, rose to become one of the most important news sources for StarCraft. On Redditforums for three of the biggest eSports boast a combined total of nearly 700,000 subscribers. Twitch, likewise, has come to supplant cable and television, who've never managed to quite figure out competitive gaming.

In November, 32 million people watched the final match of the annual tournament for the biggest eSport in the world, League of Legends. That's more than watched the World Series final between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. With computers in more and more homes across the world, and consoles in one out of every two homes in the United States, there are more competitive gamers growing up than there are kids playing baseball, as HBO Real Sports reporter Soledad was shocked to observe in a recent profile on the industry.

As this fascinating ecosystem grows, it will only have a bigger effect on people's lives. Gaming stars will become celebrities, with legions of followers and the type of cultural influence we're used to seeing from pro football or baseball stars. Money, already pouring into eSports thanks to investors and advertisers like Coca Cola, will trickle down to every side of the industry, making new careers and changing lives. There will be corruption. There will be scandals. There will be transcendent stories. And that's why eSports deserves serious journalism. Over the past few months, the Daily Dot has begun covering the eSports world, from the emergence of millionaire gamers to controversial projects to the explosion of the video game streaming business.

Today, we're officially launching an eSports section on the Daily Dot homepage. We'll report on the world of competitive gaming with the same type of independent, investigative journalism that's defined our work over the past two years.

No favoritism. No allegiances. Just pure eSports coverage.  

Photo by ChrisYunker/Flickr

Jan 18 2017 - 9:07 pm

Yes, SKT played Ziggs ADC in a competitive game—and they dominated with him

The current League world champs show us all how OP bot-lane Ziggs can be.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

ADC Ziggs has been spreading like the plague (a really, really annoying plague) through ranked games in League of Legends over the past few weeks, and SK Telecom T1 reminded everyone why they’re the World Champions by taking him into a League Champions Korea game—and destroying their opponents with him.

Jin Air, the team that fell at the hands of the mighty ADC Ziggs in the LCK earlier today, probably thought that SKT’s Bae ‘Bang’ Jun-sik was joking around when he hovered over Ziggs in Champ Select. Surely Ziggs is only a troll pick that streamers play to entertain their audiences or that Bronze players choose because they saw Shiphtur do it once, right? Right?

Wrong.

The irritating, familiar sound of Ziggs saying “This’ll be a blast!” rang loud as Bang locked him in, ready to take the AP terror down into the bot lane. It was a bloody sight to see, as Bang dominated his lane opponents. At the end of the laning phase, Bang had 3-0’d his adversary as the explosive-crazed Yordle. He won trades, outplayed tower-dives, and showed us all just how possible it is to take an AP mage into a role overrun by Marksman champions and thrive.

Was it because Ziggs is OP in that particular position? Was it, perhaps, because the state of ADCs is so pathetic that you can take any old champion into that role and do better than a traditional ADC? Actually, it’s a little bit of both.

This Ziggs pick may begin a trend of meta-breaking within professional play, and because of that casual players will follow suit. Soon, we may see more mages in bot lane, more marksmen up top, and even some supports pick Janna in the jungle.

Ziggs is an important lesson for the future of League. Playing him in the highest level of competition suggests that there may be more instances like this Ziggs game—where pro players figure out ways to use unorthodox champion picks to their advantage.

Sometimes, the meta doesn’t have to be followed—if you can find another champion to play a specific role well enough. A few seasons ago, after all, you’d dodge a ranked lobby if you saw a Rumble lock the jungle role, and now you wouldn’t bat an eye.

Love him or hate him, Ziggs is here to stay, and since the god-team of SKT has now played him in a pro game, you can expect even more ADC Ziggs appearances in your Bronze ranked games. He even has the second highest win percentage out of any other ADC, according to League stats website Champion.gg. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble winning against him, you could always go ADC Syndra.

Jan 18 2017 - 7:48 pm

Build the next SKT in this LoL manager game

LOL GM gives you the chance to manage a professional League of Legends team.
Connor Smith
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

For many League of Legends fans, debating the latest roster changes and managerial hires is almost second nature.

The tongue-in-cheek idea that redditors are the real experts became so popular it spawned an ill-fated attempt to buy and operate a team based on the community’s whims. “Team Reddit” failed due to the logistical nightmares of crowdfunding an actual esports organization. But the initial progress showed many wanted to be more involved with the managerial side of esports.

They might not be managers of a real team, but now fans have a chance to play as one. LOL GM, a free general manager simulator where players pick a team, assemble rosters, and balance budgets in order to further their esports dynasty. Reddit user /u/MyCoder, who asked to keep his real name off the record, developed the game—along with several other sports management games—with help from the source code of a Basketball GM simulator.

MyCoder began developing manager games after he asked the creator of Basketball GM if he could create similar games for other sports. After he created games for baseball, football, and college basketball, a Reddit user came to him and suggested League.

He reached out to the League subreddit in September 2015 and gauged interest. His post received 1,000 upvotes and a lot of interest. Although this wasn’t MyCoder’s first GM project, he understood an esports management game would bring its own unique challenges.

“When you first think about it, you have to wrap your head around it because it's kind of a new thing,” he said. “The first thing I did was just think of the attributes that mattered. Once you got those down, you started thinking how those feed into performance in the game to create the simulation. Once you have that down, it pretty much flows like any other sport.”

These attributes became the core of the game, like overall skill, potential, and how a player can invest in analysts and coaches to maximize the team’s abilities.

The developer had lots of help from the community. Reddit user /u/AvenirGG, who convinced him to develop the League-inspired game, made a subreddit for the game, which drove discussion toward improving it. The first release came in December 2015, but the community helped push constant updates every day.

MyCoder, who by his own admission was "relatively new" to MOBAs, said the subreddit was essential in helping make sure he didn't miss "obvious things."

“When people are playing, things just jump out at them that are really crucial and that you can fix,” he said. “I ended up polishing everything... I made the game simulation more accurate and polished the free-agency aspect and the game in general.”

The player begins by selecting a region, team, and adjusting the patch settings. The base game uses imaginary team names like “Faith Gaming” and “Sky10.” But several users helped create custom file packs for players to modify the game with actual LCS team names and pro players.

According to the developer, team insiders also helped shed light on actual team’s expenses, losses, and profits, in order to improve the realism of the game.

While the goal for a manager is to win every year, MyCoder says the difficulty varies based on the starting team.

“In League of Legends, it's very top-heavy,” he said. “The best teams usually get the best players, so it should be extremely difficult to be a bad team and get good. You don't really have an advantage over the good teams. Why would these teams want to play with you when they can go to the team that just won the championship that's missing a player?”

MyCoder says the key to a successful future is investing in young players with high potential scores and develop them in the years to come.

“Keep (young players) with you for three years and hope they turn into something good,” he said “That's the general approach. You can do some trading around that to try and speed up things.”

The refined engine works well, and the game often rewards calculated strategies. Still, the developer does see ways to improve it.

“The main roadblock is user interface,” he said. “The game itself, if you compare it to other ‘manager’ games that are actually on Steam, is probably better than anything that's on Steam right now. It's just the user interface that needs an overhaul.”

Better UI could also include a tutorial or advisor, which would make the game easier to digest. The developer also wants to improve the “game” inside the game.

“The general manager is primarily with roster construction,” MyCoder said. “Free-agency, trading and the draft—if you had it. Then there's also a coach that handles the game-to-game management. The whole coach side is what could really be expanded. Give a lot more control over the actual game and the strategy. That's just the natural progression of where it would go.”

Whether you want to forge the next esports dynasty or are just looking for something to pass the time, LOL GM is a fun and free way to explore the endless possibilities of esports management—without the scams and financial risks of the real deal.