As another year of eSports in Oceania draws to a close, I had the opportunity to sit down with four familiar faces who all competed at the Oceanic Regional Finals at PAX Australia. After a year of competing and the unveiling of Riot’s 2015 Oceanic Competitive Season, featuring the Oceanic Pro League, the players gave their competitive player perspective on this year’s events as well as the future for Oceanic League of Legends.
Lets begin with the most recent, and final major event for the year, PAX Australia 2014. What were the Oceanic Regional Finals like for you? How did the event compare to what you envisioned prior to it?
Kenste: This was my first PAX so coming into it i just expected a larger version of the other conventions tournaments were held at (Armageddon, Supernova etc). This was true for the most part with a larger crowd and a huge venue but also everything managed by Riot was a lot better than other events.
Sharp: Well, for me in particular, it was extremely meaningful as the whole years work, preparation and drive came from the desire to play at PAX. Ever since the previous season and seeing the teams play at PAX it was my goal the entire time I played competitive League of Legends to play on the stage in front of the biggest crowd of the year. Everything that I had originally thought it about it underprepared me, it 10x better and more exciting, meeting tonnes of people from the community and really feeling like I had made it and everything that I had worked for payed off.
Swip3rR: It was a huge and amazing event, almost everything I wished for in an Australian event and most likely not the biggest one yet which is even more exciting for next year. Sadly, we lost to LGC who played amazing in the Semi final which I feel could have been a finals-worthy BO3. In some ways I wish it was a BO5 because of how intense the games were. Even though we lost we still went to the event the next day because of how amazing it was and supported both the teams in the final.
Tallywhacka: Attending PAX was a dream come true for me and it did not disappoint as every single moment there made me think “Hmm, they could not have done this any better”. I was a bit nervous about playing on stage but after ChuchuZ scored a double kill on the Rengar and Jayce and the crowd started to roar all I could think about was that this was amazing. PAX was definitely the highlight of my year and I hope to participate and attend next year.
Any Particular Highlight/s from the event?
Kenste: Winning the tournament was easily the best feeling I’ve experienced in my time playing LoL but apart from that just meeting everyone that makes up the scene was an enjoyable experience in itself.
Sharp: Taking a game of Avant Garde with two subs we had never played with before was definitely the highlight for me, and the event as a whole felt like one giant highlight.
Swip3rR: Highlights of myself? Not as many since I didn’t think I played amazing. Maybe a few Rumble ults were good to see aside from that I think my team played incredible and a few huge moments I will remember are Swiffer’s 1v4 as Jayce and Raydere going ham on Twitch constantly.
In addition, watching the finals was also awesome with both LGC and AV playing great and showing that the scene is better than what people think.
Tallywhacka: One of my favourite moments at PAX was playing Evolve with Legacy. We would wake up early and head straight to the convention centre before the general population would arrive and play until the Riot events started. The game itself consists of five players; in which one would be the “evolving” monster and the other four played as hunters.
Looking back on the year overall, what are your thoughts on the 2014 competitive season as a whole in comparison to previous years?
Kenste: Given I have only played competitively for one year, it’s hard to compare it to previous years, but 2014 has been by far the best.
Sharp: Well since I am new to the scene I’m not extremely familiar with what happened in the previous season, but from what I have heard it was a massive step up from the previous year in every way right from the actual physical seating and spectator experience, right through to the prize money and how the whole season encompassed multiple events. Riot Oceania obviously have put a lot of time and effort into building the scene into something that is respectable and gives the dedicated players in the scene something to aim and strive towards. Personally, one of the biggest changes that I can recognise straight off the bat is the fact that the professional teams have a lot more exposure due to these events which is extremely important in building a fan based community.
Swip3rR: Well in previous years there hasn’t been too much competition. With us winning every tournament for 2 years (with a few different players), it probably wasn’t as fun to watch. Now we have lost 2 out of 4 major tournaments this year showing that every team is getting much better and showing that the Top 3 are very close to each other. So yeah, I think the competitive scene has gotten much better to watch instead of just thinking “iM easy win don’t need to watch”, which I think helps the scene a lot.
Tallywhacka: The 2014 competitive season has come a long way in which it is now being looked at as a sport and not just a hobby/video game. Every year there are more and more fans turning up to events hosted around Australia and as League of Legends gains increase exposure the health of the competition will improve the Oceanic player base. As a region we have improved immensely and I think this upward trend will continue into 2015.
I trust that all of you have already seen the recent Riot announcement in regards to the upcoming 2015 season. What are your initial thoughts on the format?
Kenste: It is pretty much everything pro teams have been asking for in terms of competition. I think a league system will be really enjoyable because usually we have a long time between tournaments and now will have weekly games. 7 weeks per season seems a bit short but we’ll see how that pans out soon.
Sharp: Personally, I believe that the open ladder concept and giving players of all skill and experience the chance to compete in the ‘Professional League’, is a great idea that expands the region’s talent and with the massive incentives through prizes and large amounts of exposure (weekly tournaments etc.) will only increase the scene’s skill levels and increase the spectator value.
Swip3rR: I am really excited to see and play the new format, it’s a huge step for Riot and I feel it’s going to work great. Every team will be playing even more and since the games are weekly, a lot of teams will improve and just be a whole lot stronger next year.
Tallywhacka: The new format is both exciting as a pro player and as someone who would like to see eSports grow in the Oceanic region. As a player, it comes as extra incentive to perform every week during the split as well as the live broadcasting allows more exposure to the Oceanic region.
The format imitates a mini “LCS” in which 8 teams play over 7 weeks in an online ladder tournament competing for a playoff position. Meanwhile, Riot Oceania have also added an Open Ladder in which any team can participate in weekly tournaments playing for prizes and a spot in the Challenger Series. The Challenger Series occurs at the end of every split in which the top 8 open ladder teams compete for a chance to join the Pro League for the next split.
Are there any specific improvements or additions you would like to see from Riot next year?
Kenste: Computers to practice on at LAN events would be very useful however I’m not sure how feasible that is for Riot. At PAX, we spent an entire day walking around Melbourne looking for a internet cafe that had space for 2 teams with no success.
Sharp: Maximising the exposure the professional teams get to the Oceania community would be the biggest improvement that could occur, but other than that Riot are doing an extremely great job in improving the scene and getting Oceania on the same level as the major regions.
Swip3rR: I think they have mainly done what I hoped for which is bring a mini LCS into OCE. However, one thing I will recommend is that semis and finals are both Bo5s since the games are a lot more intense and will bring more viewing and excitement for everybody.
Tallywhacka: The age old answer; an official Riot replay system. I really enjoy making videos and I would love to make League related content in the future but having to use software from a third party doesn’t bode well with me.
Now that you’ve all had an opportunity to play on the new and first major patch of the pre-season, Patch 4.20, let’s talk a bit about your immediate impressions thus far. First off, are you enjoying the new patch?
Kenste: After playing on the same patch for so long any change is nice. Although mid lane hasn’t developed as much as jungle and it’s mostly the same champions that are meta, the new objectives to play around and fight over are more enjoyable.
Sharp: At the moment it’s extremely early in the season but I believe that the jungle is the biggest change and this effects how aggressive laners can play and it’ll take a while to understand which is the most optimal way to play the game. I think at this present time nearly anything can be played in the mid lane, but specifically we are seeing that the nerf in Athene’s is resulting in mid laners getting Morellos. This has caused a resurgence in champions that can go Morellos and then DFG the most effective, e.g. Lissandra and Leblanc, as well as bursty assassins due to less MR in the build path. This makes the mid lane more fun and less farm and control heavy.
Swip3rR: I haven’t played the patch too much since we are on a mini break right now, but from what I’ve seen top lane looks very fun. With Poppy top, Lissandra back (one of my all time favourites) and other stuff like Kassadin, it’s pretty exciting.
Tallywhacka: I’ve played about 50 games on the new patch and so far I have loved the shift in meta and I’m relishing to be the first to find a new secret OP champion. The jungle has been completely revamped; before it was all about rushing level 3 and ganking but now 70% of junglers struggle to clear the jungle without having recalled once or twice. This allows laners to play more aggressively without being punished by those painful early ganks. So far I think Season 5 is gearing up to be my favourite season since I first started playing League of Legends.
Any observations you’ve made so far in regards to gameplay? Any major dynamic changes you’ve witnessed already in comparison to the pre-patch?
Kenste: There are some super fun champions that have come back into the meta such as LeBlanc and Pantheon. I think this is mostly because the change in dynamic where early-mid game skirmishing power is extremely important for fighting over dragons and taking map control. Currently it seems like there are more options for mid lane picks as junglers have a much harder time in the jungle and as a result of that are more predictable in their pathing.
Swip3rR: Nothing huge, although the jungle seems a lot different in terms of playstyle. With the level 3 top lane gank being very unlikely now (AWESOME) and the Dragon buff being a lot bigger, it is more than likely going to be more contested than in previous seasons.
Tallywhacka: I’ve noticed so far in Season 5 that the game has shifted from simply acquiring a large enough gold/item advantage to overpower the enemy team to acquiring buffs and securing the neutral objectives (dragon, baron etc.) and snowballing the game that way. From what I’ve noticed, the team that acquires the first dragon or baron usually is able to snowball a win as long as they maintain sufficient vision control. There is a huge emphasis on the first dragon and during Season 4 a top tower for the first dragon was generally a even trade off in terms of total gold. In Season 5 the first dragon is more important in helping your team snowball with the permanent global buff. In comparison to season 4, this puts more emphasis on early game team compositions and assassins seem to be very popular; much prefered from the pure tank and late game ADC’s in previous patches.
Thanks for your time everyone! Any final comments or shoutouts?
Kenste: Thanks to any fans that came and met me or my team and also to anyone supporting from home. And of course, thanks to all of our sponsors.
Sharp: I’d like to say that I’m looking forward to the next competitive season and that I am excited to see what Riot has in store for us.
Swip3rR: I’d like to thank everyone who continues to supports me and the team. Even though we lost our last two Riot Tournaments, we aren’t going anywhere and now knowing the feeling of losing we will be trying a lot harder to take this year by storm. Also a huge thanks to Logitech, they have helped us so much already and I am really excited for the future. Thanks guys!
Tallywhacka: A massive shoutout to Riot for all of their hard work so far and for what’s coming in 2015 and also a huge thank you to ASUS for continuing to support my team and I.
Article by Zeror
For more information on Riot’s 2015 Oceanic Competitive Season, check it out here.
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Image Credit: Riot Games Oceania