December 04, 2015

League of Legends IWCA Championships - Event Report

Riot Games may not be a household name like some studios around the world, but they are far and above one of the most popular, one game put them on the map and now League of Legends has given Australian fans something incredible, the IWCA Championship.

Thousands of fans at Margaret Court Arena and HOYTS cinemas across the Australia and New Zealand watched CIS' Mykhailo 'Kira' Harmash take out Latin America's Ali 'Seiya' Bracamontes in the 1v1 grand final, securing a 100 points for his region and cementing the championship crown before the 5v5 showdown.

One such attendee was Dimitri, the resident League of Legends guru at Maxi-Geek, here is his report on what was going on.

It’s midday on a Saturday, and I’m hauling a bag full of League of Legends swag through Margaret Court. I’m at the International Wild Card All Stars tournament, the first of its kind in Australia, and I must say I’m impressed. 

League of Legends has been a big part of my life - for better or worse - for over three years. When I first started playing, the map was dog ugly, the particles dated, and there were just over 100 champions in the game. Australian servers were but a cherished dream, and we considered ourselves lucky if we managed to play a game with less than 200 ping throughout. But despite these setbacks, I and a bunch of other friends played this game religiously almost every night. We made friends, formed teams, got mad at each other and disbanded them. We created new accounts so we could push around the newbies when we got bored of climbing the ranked ladder, but instead the newbies pushed around us because we were (and still are) quite terrible at the game.

In short, we had fun. Then, two years ago, Riot Games announced the creation of Oceanic Servers. I transferred my account from North America to Oceania, and suddenly found myself playing on silky-smooth 40 ping, still quite terrible at the game but now no longer able to hide behind the excuse of “lag”. Nonetheless I continued playing, and watched as the e-sports scene in Australia finally grew into its boots. My friends and I competed in the first ever League wildcard tournament. It was a best of 1 elimination tournament, and we bombed out first round. But I remember the excitement, the planning, the discussion that went into it. We played our hearts out that day, and even though we lost we enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was fortuitous then, that the first official Riot Games-hosted tournament in Australia was around the same time as Australia’s first PAX, and I remember attending that PAX and watching the final match of that tournament on the big screen.

That was my taster. Two years later, I’m here at IWC All Stars, and things have changed. For the better, of course. The excitement is palpable. People are walking around with League merchandise and talking animatedly with one another about this champion, that balance change, or how Riot Games are inevitably ruining League of Legends (a common thread, but a topic for another day). Walking onto the court, which had been converted to a stage with massive LCD screens pointing every direction and a sound system that rumbled and roared with every bloody kill, it finally struck me; I’m actually here. I’m actually at a League of Legends live event. And the crowd, it seemed, thought the same as I. We cheered as someone scored a kill. We booed when someone selected a boring champion - all in good spirits, but boos nevertheless. We roared with glee when any major objective was taken, and it didn’t matter if the teams on the screen were Australian, Turkish, Russian or South-East Asian, we cheered them all the same.

It was such a joy, and also a relief, to witness that. A part of me was concerned bitterness would seep through, especially considering the Australian side wasn’t putting on the best performance. But the crowd was electric, and it proved to me that we have embraced the spirit of competition in the best possible way. While we have a ways to go yet, if this tournament was any indication then we are definitely on the right track. Looking forward to many more as I watch the e-sports scene continue to grow and thrive in Australia, and for now I raise a (proverbial) glass and say cheers Australia for being good sports!

Now all we need are better players… kidding! 

But seriously.

Some of the players took the time to comment on the matches, with one using the benefit of hindsight to think of what might have been.
“The moment I knew we were going to win is when Turkey lost the 1v1 tournament early on. After this I thought, 1v1 tournament, easy,” said CIS mid-laner Mykhailo 'Kira' Harmash.

“In Los Angeles, I hope I will win the 1v1 tournament and hope we will not loose to all teams and that we will win some 5v5 games.”

Although Turkey won the 5v5 grand final in a tense 3-1 battle, none of the Turkish players made the top 8 of the 1v1 tournament, giving them 90 points overall.

“My only regret is that I wish I picked Ahri instead of Karma. Then maybe I could of won my 1v1 as Ahri is my most played champion. I guess the better team goes to LA,” commented Turkey support Mustafa Kemal "Dumbledoge" Gökseloğlu.

Unfortunately, Oceania’s hopes ended when both Tim ‘Carbon’ Wendel and Aaron ‘ChuChuZ’ Bland lost their 1v1 quarterfinal game.

Good luck to all those who are moving onto LA and a big thanks to Riot for letting Dimitri attend.

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