League of Legends is in conflict with other eSports? We disagree.
Writer Zoran Cunningham has a feature article today at Gamasutra's blog section about the trend of eSports professionals switching gears to League of Legends in light of that game's dominance in the scene.
The piece is worth a read for the inside look it gets at certain aspects of the competitive gaming industry, but on several points I have to respectfully disagree with the piece.
The main point is that the article gives the impression that an overwhelming presence from League of Legends is suffocating other eSports. He singles out StarCraft 2 as a game that is under fire from LoL.
"Meanwhile StarCraft 2, the game largely responsible for the resurgence of eSports in 2010 now struggles for viewership and interest as the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) consistently sets records for online viewership and fan attendance at events."
As a fervent fan of competitive StarCraft, I can testify first-hand that this simply is not the case. StarCraft 2's viewership numbers have never been higher in its history. Blizzard is making big investments in the scene, and tournaments are commonly capable of turning out 125,000+ (and steadily increasing) viewers even without Blizzard's help.
Fighting game viewership has also been growing steadily for a decade. The meteoric rise of LoL may make other games looky sluggish by comparison, but it's a mistake to overlook those games as contributing to the overall popularity of eSports.
The article carries a sense that the different competitive games are at odds with one another, which is a sentiment that I loathe. Outside of in-genre competition, every eSport complements every other eSport. The more people are watching video games, the stronger every eSport is. And we have data to support this theory! Every genre's most popular spectator game is now more popular than it ever has been.
The article's sources are also overwhelmingly from the fighting game scene. And so the real story here may not be about LoL vacuuming up talent, as it is about professional fighting games being unable to support players who cant consistently place in the top three finalists.
Whether you agree with me, him or neither of us you should give the article a read because the current growth and dynamic of eSports is one of the most interesting topics in the gaming industry today.
- Zoran Cunningham