The State of League of Legends eSports in Australia

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about eSports in Australia and with the imminent release of our very own ‘Oceanic LoL Server’, the excitement has been BUILDING UP. [source: Oceanic Server Confirmed (on Saint’s Stream!?)]

Why’s Australia been so slow to jump on the LoL eSports train? What’s holding Australia back from competing internationally? Is it our practice schedule or is it our skill?

Will Australia ever be able to compete with the best in the world? I’m ‘UberGiantsBro’ and this will be my take on League of Legends eSports in Australia in particular, where we are and where we may be headed.

For those who may not know me firstly, here’s a short intro about myself. I’ve been playing LoL for around 2.5 years, usual story, played the game for a while then started playing in some competitions with my bros and some friends. You may have seen myself or LittleUberGiant around on some of the pro streams, we’ve been in the top percentage on the NA server for a good year or so I would say. You may not have seen UberGiant around as he is plat something (funny story, he used to be 900 elo before they changed the elo system).

We play with approximately 200 ping (now 220-250 due to ISP changes) and LittleUber and I have both learned to play with it and compete with the top players in NA. I made a video discussing my ping and How 200 Ping Made Me A Better Player. Feel free to check it out, I talk about some of the challenges I’ve faced with 200 ping and I mention a simple step by step plan to apply this concept to your own game to improve.

PastryTime and TheOddone

PastryTime with TheOddone on his vacation in Australia.

And also, I remember when a certain TSM member came to Australia…. See what TheOddOne thought of his experience of Playing LoL in Australia. I remember watching him drop more than 100 elo on his stream in the week that he was here, fun times!

To say I am looking forward to a green ping is an understatement, but setting ping and the incoming Australian server aside for a minute, let’s take a look at the Aus scene and where we are at. Currently iM (Team Immunity) reign supreme, they still hold the rest of the competition down in their vice-like grip as they have for the last year and a bit (although the gap is slowly being bridged).

With iM effectively being Australia’s best team, it’s still more than fair to say that they would have no chance competing with pro international teams. I mean, it seems kind of obvious to say this, but Australia is just not at that level of practice in general yet. But we talk more on that soon ™.

Okay so cool, so there is a dominant team in Aus in iM, this would give the other teams something to strive for – to take down the top dog right? Sure, every competitor ever who was not numero uno has strived to be numero uno. But let’s go off on a tangent for a minute.

Sponsors. Having a short look at the history of sponsored LoL teams in Australia over the past few years (we’ve never had a big scene), we started off with basically 3 competitive sponsored teams. Moving on from there, iM became the dominant force winning everything, sponsors  saw this and they started to steer clear of the scene for a while.

For the EB Expo held in Sydney last year (I think the biggest event Aus has ever had for LoL) we basically had two teams who were sponsored to fly in and two more teams had to fly just one or two guys in.

This EB Expo had 300ish ping from memory and the other events that were there were so loud when we were playing that we had to communicate solo q style – PING PING PING. Oh and our hotel was crap :D. Despite all this, I enjoyed the event – it was good meeting people who you’ve played with heaps and putting the face to the IGN as well, although I was pretty disappointed that we had to do this from our own pocket.

The team I was in paid for our own flights in the hopes that we would pick up some sponsors while we were down there.

It’s only been recently that sponsorship interest has started to pick up again. We now have 4-6 teams with sponsors who are willing to fly their teams around for decent events in Australia. There is likely several reasons for this which I will not go in to here.

So let’s talk about practice schedules. I feel like this is something that America has finally picked itself up on this last year to catch up with the Koreans. We’ve started seeing the pro US teams become a lot more organised, mostly due to having managers who take care of all the scheduling, scrimming times and whatever else so players can practice more efficiently.

GGU

You can follow GGU on twitter @GGUniversity

I believe the LCS has been a massive reason for this, encouraging players and teams as a whole to really put in. As a result, competition has picked up and we’ve started seeing relatively unknown teams who were really underdogs (I’M LOOKIN AT YOU GGU) take on and win against the best teams. This is fantastic for the competition of LoL and it’s fantastic to watch.

Australian teams have never had good practice schedules. I don’t know anyone who makes a living on League, most of the players I know have uni and/or part time or full time work during the day and this leaves us with a few hours during weeknights at best. This is unlikely to change until an alternative option, rather an alternative opportunity presents itself.

This reminds me of an argument my mate constantly uses when applying for a part time job while he is studying; “Jobs that I want require me to have experience, but I can’t get experience if they don’t give me a job”. While I don’t necessarily agree with this (apply for a traineeship/non paid work to get experience!), I can still see the humour in it. I guess it could be said that Australia is in the ‘traineeship’ stage right now.

In Australia, we’ve had nothing to strive for. Several times I’ve contemplated quitting LoL and focusing on other things like my Soccer (FOOTBALL!), it’s only been the announcement of this Oceanic Server that has kept me playing the game seriously.

Recently, though, the AEL (Australian Esports League) has started up a new competition which is a fortnightly qualifier where the top teams at the end may compete for a spot to represent Australia and compete in the IESF 2013 championship. Now, this is how to move. 😉
iesf

I feel like this has already spiced up the competition. No matter how you look at it though, the competitiveness of LoL in Australia is slowly starting to pick up. I’ve noticed a lot more high level Aussies (some diamond 1 Aussies that I didn’t even know of before) than ever before.

As we roll on towards the server release, I am of the opinion that the snowball will do it’s snowbally thing and we will see an increase in the overall quality of Australian teams as well as the pure quantity of Aussie teams that can compete (there is already so many teams! Just admittedly not many good ones). We are in an interesting spot for sure!

Whatever happens, I look forward to seeing Australia move forward in eSports and Summoner School will be right there! I look forward to seeing more teams drive up the overall competition here in Australia. Maybe we will see some Aussies LoL players competing with the best some day? Who knows. I would love to see that for sure. Let me know what you think on twitter @UberGiantsBro

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How 200 Ping Made Me A Better Player

Transcript

While I’ve gotten used to 200 ping as an Australian LoL player, there are definitely things you can’t do as EFFECTIVELY with 200 ping. For example I find it tough to react to a Morgana bind in time, I have to predict and anticipate it’s direction rather than react to it to dodge it.

So UberBro, how can that possibly be a good thing?

Let me explain. When you take something away from someone, it’s safe to say that they’ve lost that thing and that they’re now at a disadvantage, right? But what happens sometimes is that disadvantage may allow the person to focus on another skill, and as a result that skill is now stronger and better than it was before.

I want to use an analogy here. You may know a person or have at least heard about people who for whatever reason become blind, and after a while their hearing becomes that much more effective because that’s what they have to RELY on all the time. It’s a similar thing.

So for me, while it’s obviously not that severe, it’s still the same concept! In terms of League of Legends, I’ve become less reliant on my reactions (due to my ping) and more reliant on other skills such as prediction and reading players. I’ll use one of my favourite champions to illustrate this – Lux.

In lane I’ve learned to watch a players movement pattern more closely and use that to predict where he’ll be or when he’ll go aggressive so I can more easily take advantage of his position with an e auto harass combo, rather than simply reacting to when he moves forward for aggression.

If you are reacting to that aggression rather than anticipating it, you’re generally going to lose. Is this something I would have learned without 200 ping? Possibly. But I have no doubt that that skill is stronger for me than it would have been simply because I’ve had to rely on it so much.

I’ve always been jealous of players with like 30 ping, but then I remember that I may not have developed or even learned some of these other skills without my ping, so in essence that’s how 200 ping made me a better player and I think that’s pretty cool.

So do you have a weakness in your game or something that could be labeled as a disadvantage to you? Here’s what you do.

Step 1.

Identify one weak point in your game. Pause for a moment and make a note… Please don’t say your disadvantage is having bad teammates! Don’t ever use that as an excuse if you want to improve yourself.

Step 2.

Once you’ve identified something, take note of how it effects your game play in normal circumstances. Maybe you have poor map awareness and this makes you an easy target for jungle ganks.

Step 3.

Admit it and work on improving. Whatever it is, being aware of it (and being able to ADMIT it) is the first major hurdle. Realise that you are not the perfect League of Legends player. For a complete and step by step guide on how to rise through the leagues right now, check out summoner school now. I helped create summoner school and being in the top fraction in the world – literally the top 0.01% in the world, being in Diamond 1 – I know what I’m talking about.

Well I hope you’ve learned something here, I can appreciate that everyone will have a different point in their game that they’d consider a weakness. It’s cool to have a weak point, you just have to acknowledge it and work on it. Until next time! Follow me on twitter @UberGiantsBro.

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