Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The EU (and some NA) amateur scene

I assume very little of you who are reading this actually know who I am, if you do, great! If not, let me take a moment to explain.

My name is Josh 'Howspiffing' raven, still not ringing any bells? I didn't think so. I've been around in the EU amateur scene for a little while now. Starting around a year ago when I managed the Myrevenge LoL team, after which I moved on to become the manager of Benched Gaming, we joined the organization 'Reason' shortly after I joined as manager.

I joined them in early June of this year, and just 3 months later the team has disbanded. Obviously I am pretty sad that this has happened, but it is the reasons of the disband that have saddened me more than the actual disband. You may think it was personal issues, performance issues, or something along those lines, but you'd be wrong. The reason ( see what I did there? ) that Reason Gaming disbanded was due to the fact that amateur League of Legends just doesn't cover the costs of real life.

2 very talented players have had to postpone or possibly completely cancel their dreams of becoming professional LoL players, because they simply don't earn enough money from playing in the amateur leagues. Don't get me wrong, there are some tournaments that are working to increase the prize money involved in the EU amateur scene. KaosTV ( EUW challenger series ), Insomnia, Dreamhack, and assuming IEM as usual. I was lucky enough to attend Insomnia49 myself, where the prize pool was £10k, the team also attended Dreamhack, which boasted the same prize pool. Insomnia we came 2nd, taking home £2.5k, whereas at Dreamhack we lost in round 1 to Copenhagen Wolves, meaning no prize money.

However this does make me think. In North America there is a tournament known as the 'MCS'. An online season for North American amateur teams that pays out an astonishing $10,000 prize pool, with $5.5k going to the winners. This online event gives the same prize pool as the 2 biggest European LoL amateur LANs of the last year. On top of this, they are also able to participate in the GgLA online invitational which pays out $1,000 each week. EU do have a similar tournament, run by KaosTV, known as the EUW Challenger Series. However this only pays out 400 per week, which begs the question...why is NA getting so much more in terms of prize money? On top of this we have the issue of viewership. I decided to approach the manager of TCM Gaming, Julien 'Ruliooz' Fran├žois, and ask what he thought about these issues, here is what he told me.

"The main problem with amateur scene is there is no viewership anymore due to LCS. The schedule to organize tournaments is a problem too, and people don’t really like to watch matches during the week anymore, they get used to LCS format, and watching it is enough for them. 
I don’t really see any way to improve the amateur scene, Riot have to add a LCS B League or add more slots in the current LCS format." ( Not native English speaker, don't go criticizing the grammar )

I have to say I agree in a way that the LCS has been a blessing and a curse in terms of LoL Esports. On the 1 hand, we have a weekly competition where the top 8 teams of EU and NA are paid to perform at their finest. This also means that no one really cares about the amateur scene anymore. Who wants to watch 2 amateur teams contesting for a few hundred or MAYBE a few thousand pounds/dollars/euros when you can watch the top 8 teams face off for 50,000 in their own region, and a shot at 1 million in the world finals.

So what is the solution? As Ruliooz stated, it seems to me that Riot should look to invest in 1 of 2 options. Either increasing the amount of teams currently participating in the LCS, or creating some sort of B league with lesser prize money, and games played online rather than in studio...Aside from finals/playoffs of course.

Anyway most of this article might seem like it was just rambling. I haven't been writing recently and I intend to continue so the quality of writing should only improve from here. Big thanks to Ruliooz for giving an input into the issue, and if you guys have any feedback/noted any errors, don't hesitate to let me know!

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