This past weekend had been eagerly awaited by fans of both Riot’s American and European League Championship Series and North American / European Challenger Series as it was the second round of the League of Legends Expansion Tournament and would showcase new teams, bigger rivalries, and more intense games. The first round garnered over 75,000 viewers through Twitch alone and this was even hardly the hyped money matches. Unfortunately, this was as good as it got.
The first brackets of the League of Legends Expansion Tournament went smoothly until the final game set to be played by Team Fusion Gaming and Confusion Gaming was forfeited 2-0 by Confusion due to lack of roster. Their mid laner, Chunkyfresh, had been a mid laner substitute for Team Fusion Gaming and was disqualified to play for Confusion. As the team was unprepared for this and had no subs, they were forced into the surrender. Many people complained and criticized Riot’s lack of involvement in this matter, and even theorized that Team Fusion Gaming had planted Chunkyfresh as a pocket pick through the first round. After debate among fans and rivals, Confusion’s remaining line-up posted throughout forums on Reddit, explaining their situation as unintended but accepted. This was hoped to have been the last of the League of Legends Expansion Tournament problems but were only the first of many more to come.
November 22nd and 23rd were set to be Round 2 of the North American Bracket and the first round of the European of League of Legends Expansion Tournament. This is where the real trouble began. The tournament was outsourced to the reputed gaming company The eSports League, better known as the ESL. The North American tournament had been scheduled for 1PM PST and at exactly that time their stream was offline where it remained offline for hours to come.
The League of Legends Expansion Tournament stream would flicker on and off with updates or snippets from the games or at one point, it came on merely to show the two sports casters who then nonchalantly gave away the scores of the games, who won and then played an advertisement before shutting the stream off again.
Twitter tore the company apart, berating them for their lack of professionalism and blatant disregard for the exceptions of the fans. The company’s Twitter continued to apologize but also gave false hope by reporting games would return in “20 minutes,” when in reality it would be nearly 4 hours before the streams came on and fans were able to watch the League of Legends Expansion Tournament.
What was most frustrating was that the League of Legends Expansion Tournament had been pre-recorded and only the commentary was live so whenever a game had a technically difficulty, instead of skipping ahead the channel chose instead to play ads. This merely added insult to injury if you catch my drift.
ESL is hands down one of the most professional and well respected gaming companies and hosts of tournaments in the entire eSports business. They hold competitions for Counter Strike, Heartstone, DotA, Starcraft II, and numerous other games over the years which only makes the entire debacle more disappointing. Several years ago, the European LCS was handled by ESL and was almost as dismal as this past weekend. It seems that despite the years of experience, they still have managed to mismanage League of Legends Expansion Tournament.
The only defense for ESL is that they have been playing and recording the League of Legends Expansion Tournament on online servers rather than LAN. This could explain their failures in past European LCS where European servers were nearly almost down, placing all the blame on Riot. The difference between an online and live server is striking but whereas this is information in the defense of ESL it also needs to be stated that ESL has been planned to host this tournament for over a month and have at the least known for two weeks that the League of Legends Expansion Tournament would have its first rounds be online rather than live.
As we go into the semi-final bracket in December we can only hope that ESL manages to control the situation better. No amount of tweets apologizing can erase the fact that the League of Legends Expansion Tournament has been partially ruined and fans denied and deprived content they were promised.