The largest eSports event of the year, if not of all time, kicked off this Sunday. The 2013 League of Legends World Championship, the pinnacle League of Legends tournament, began on September 15th and will run all the way until October 4th.
The World Championship consists of 14 teams from North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, China, and Lithuania (filling the International Wildcard slot) competing for a $1 million grand prize. This is one of the largest eSports grand prizes in history, matching the $1 million prize from the last season League of Legends world champs.
The events are taking place in multiple locations around Los Angeles, so the North American teams definitely have a home court advantage, but the tournament organizers have done their best to try to even the playing field.
The first 6 days consist of two groups of double round robin, each member of each group will play each other twice with the top 2 teams from each group advancing to the semifinals. This means that each team gets to play at least eight matches before getting eliminated from the tournament, so hopefully there will be enough game time for the foreign teams to acclimate to playing in North America and be on the top of their game.
If you have free time over the next two weeks, I would highly recommend tuning in. eSports have been spiking in popularity over the last couple of years and have been gaining the credibility of a “real” sport. The US has begun rewarding “Athlete” visas to eSports players coming to the United States for tournaments and as more money has come into the picture, an increasing number of players have been able to become professional and play their chosen games full time. Even if you don't play League of Legends, it is still worth your time. Watching these teams--some of the best in the world--compete is fascinating because of just how good they are at this game. Observing masters at their trade is always captivating, and this tournament is no exception.
Day One recap:
Day One was intense and incredibly fun to watch. While there was only one upset, it is hilariously fun to watch really good teams play each other. China’s Team OMG has a brutally offensive play style which results in highly bloody, and highly entertaining, games. Gaming Gear from Lithuania and Team Mineski from Southeast Asia both ended the day with zero wins and two loses. I am worried about Gaming Gear’s presence in this Tournament since they went against arguably one of the weakest teams from group A today and still didn't manage to eke out a victory. Mineski’s schedule is hardly any easier, but they still have a chance to go against Team Vulcun, a highly regarded team, but definitely not the strongest of the group. With five days left to go in the Group round, there are still plenty of matches to be played and anything can still happen.