Complications in the 'League of Legends' Challenger Series

Something has to change for League of Legends, and it just so happens that any major decision will have long term consequences not just for LoL eSports, but for eSports as a whole.

In an outcome no one found surprising, Cloud 9 Challenger (C9C) earned a spot in the next competitive season of League of Legends. It’s normal for a team in the Challenger Series to earn their way back into the regular LoL eSports series (the LCS). However, this particular success story is marred by strange circumstances. See, the Cloud 9 eSports organization already has a team in the LCS, and they’re not allowed to have a second. C9C will not actually be joining the LCS at all. Instead, they’ll sell their spot for a profit.

There’s a pretty clear consensus from organizations, players, and eSports fans that something is terribly wrong with this picture.

From a viewer’s perspective, these events undermine the contest of the Challenger series final and the premise of the series as a whole. The stakes of the final match are diminished when (whether they win or lose) the teams fighting for a spot aren’t going anywhere. Also, the premise of the LCS is that the best teams in each region are fighting it out all season to climb the rankings. By letting in a team that bought their way in, instead of earning it, is to erode that premise.

Another concern is that Cloud 9’s role in the Challenger series diminishes the prospects for new eSports players trying to prove their worth at a higher competitive level. Most of C9C’s roster are pro veterans, former starters for C9’s original roster. This might be the case for a handful of other Challenger team rosters, but it gets at what I think is the heart of this issue: How do you build a consistent pool of fresh talent in eSports without destabilizing existing and long-lasting organizations? If the Challenger series is meant for up-and-coming players, is fielding sister-teams stocked with former pros adhering to that tenet?

The easy answer might be to limit how many teams any one organization could field at all. If C9 were not allowed to field a Challenger team, then the controversy over selling their LCS spot wouldn’t be happening. However, I’m inclined to agree with Hai, C9C’s team captain, when he said in the interview below that C9C provides opportunity and tutelage to fresh faces, albeit to the few that are actually new on team.

Perhaps more importantly, Cloud 9 brings the full legitimacy and bureaucracy of an established eSports organization. He’s not wrong to call out some shady practices in the Challenger circuit. Hai’s organization can, at least, pay their players on time and at a more competitive rate.

Perhaps another solution is doing away with the Challenger series entirely, cementing League of Legends eSports organizations with a franchise model. This would mirror many traditional sports and ensure that organizations who pony up the sizable investment necessary to play have the opportunity to improve their team and recoup some of the costs of starting an organization in the first place. This also creates the added benefit of increasing fan loyalty, since it’s hard to continue to follow a single team when organizations drop in and out of the competition after every split.

However, we’re again stuck with the problem of creating a consistent pool of highly skilled players to grow the eSports scene. If Riot implemented a franchise model, they could scrap the Challenger series in favor of supporting collegiate teams and competitions, recreating the model that the NFL uses to bring in young talent. Or Riot could continue to host the Challenger series as an entirely separate competition, truly creating a Minor League aSports. Existing organizations who field Minor League teams would then have feeder squads, teams of players that they could hone into the next eSports prodigies to bring onto the primary team as other players move on.

I don’t have any good answers here. Time and again I look at eSports today and see an amazing opportunity to shed the dangerous norms that have appeared in traditional sports entertainment. FIFA is constantly dealing with one scandal or another, and the NFL and NBA suffer from their own forms of corruption and exploitation. I also find collegiate football a blight on the American education system as well, so I would hate to see the same model used in professional eSports.

Something has to change for League of Legends, and it just so happens that any major decision will have long term consequences not just for LoL eSports, but for eSports as a whole. I don’t know where this will all lead, but this conversation is an important one to have. As more and more money flows into eSports, we risk losing the opportunity shape its future.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.