This interview was conducted through Twitter and email.
1. What do you think of Riot’s stance on deciding sandbox mode isn’t something they should make?
Personally, I wouldn’t get much use out of sandbox mode because I just don’t see the value of practicing a hard flash 100 times or something similar to that. It would be cool to test out different build paths but a lot of things are situational to how the game is going and I’m not sure if I would ever use the sandbox mode. With that being said, their stance is pretty absurd and any game that has hopes of being considered a serious esport in the future needs to have some mode of practice that doesn’t commit you to a full 20-60 minute game.
2. You tweeted that in the future it would be delusional for people to drop school to go pro. Could you expand on that?
Right now I think Riot has made it abundantly clear in the past 2-3 weeks that their focus is more on the casual gamer than the competitive scene. Support for teams and players doesn’t come from Riot and the salary they provide is a bare minimum for people making a living off pro gaming. Just ignoring Riot, however, the career itself is quite volatile and doesn’t last long enough to make it a good decision to drop school, unless you are able to amass a large enough fan base and average 10k+ viewers on Twitch to make up for the lack of income otherwise.
3. Do you think NA has enough talent in solo queue that could continually refresh the LCS and CS? Or are teams making the right call to import?
I don’t think that NA solo queue has much talent and the majority of mechanically skilled players in high elo that aren’t already on a decent team are either one trick ponies or don’t have pro aspirations. I think importing is more of a necessary thing and will continue to happen because of the culture here and the stigma around gaming as a whole. The popularity of console games and mobile games will just hurt PC gaming in the future as well.
4. Who do you think are the up and coming talents in NA CS?
Shrimp, Hard, Moon, Stixxay are a few that come to mind – very big lack of solo lane talent in my opinion.
5. Who do you think are the best mid laners in NA CS?
Alex has a lot of experience and makes good decisions, so I would probably rate him as the best NACS mid.
6. What could Riot do to make going pro more viable?
Riot needs to provide some sort of job security (not sure how to accomplish this just saying it’s a necessity) and increase monetary rewards for succeeding as a pro player. It really is concerning how much larger the Dota 2 prize pool is when comparing to the world championship for LoL.
7. Are you happy with the current way the Challenger Series is set up? What improvements or changes should be made?
The system is OK, but not great. First off, the amount of prequalified organizations is just silly and many good teams didn’t make it to the NACS because of how the qualifiers were structured. Secondly, the scene itself is very volatile and unstructured; rosters change by the week and viewership for the NACS as a whole is very low because the lack of “hype” built around it.
8. You also tweeted about the mid-lane being nothing more than a shove-fest in competitive. What changes would you like to see Riot make to mid?
The issue is less around the lane as a whole and more around the meta and how it’s developed. I think one of the biggest issues right now is how easy it is for junglers and supports to ward up the map and control vision. As a result, mid laners have to play very passively and look for windows to control vision around their lane rather than look for aggressive plays and roaming opportunities. I think Sightstone as an item is a huge design flaw and makes it far too easy to continually ward every inch of the map. Additionally, Riot has made the game very objective-focused with the changes to Dragon and Baron which leads to a necessity to build strong teamfighting compositions and have champions like Viktor that can push waves quickly and arrive to fights before their opponents.
9. Any thoughts on the servers being in Chicago? How much will that affect NA talent trying to climb and established pros?
I think moving the servers to Chicago caters to the overall playerbase and casual players but significantly hurts the competitive scene. Because the Riot studio and the TR will remain in LA, pro players will now have to solo queue with 60-70 ping at all times which, contrary to popular belief, makes a huge difference at high levels of play. Champions with skillshots or complicated animation cancelling (Riven) require low ping to play at the highest level and practicing them will be that much harder. I don’t support their decision to have only one server with NA being such a big region. Hopefully they will find a way around this.