Why you should watch Esports live – League of Legends

As I rolled into London one bright morning, I was filled with excitement for the weekend of upcoming matches; not just to watch the action of the series unfold as titans of the game went toe-to-toe, but to be within touching distance of every kill, every outplay and every triumph to come.

When I stepped off the train, there was an immediate buzz through the city – not the usual bustle, but something different, something purposeful and full of anticipation. It was finals weekend and the big tournament this place hosted was coming to an end, but that only made the static in the air more palpable.

Samuel Lakin

I began to pick up the telling signs of those who, like me, were here to witness the height of competition. Maybe it was something subtle, a backpack filled with snacks for the day and a murmur among friends as they reviewed the clashes so far. Sometimes something more conspicuous, a flag, face paint, merchandise from the events and teams – and the dreaded but ever-present Teemo hats.

By the end, I would be an expert observer and discover that there was a certain satisfaction in picking up these clues in a coach or a crowd, knowing that I was at the epicenter of the competitive League of Legends community for a while.

As I continued to travel through the tube, the electric hum and thump of tunnels under the city only amplified this feeling. I recognized some of myself in other travelers who waited hesitantly on platforms or looked at maps one too many times as we went from station to station, waiting for our eastbound stop.

The trail only grew stronger as I hit Stratford, where a busy hub of faces looked for guidance to the Copper Box Arena. As if to confirm our suspicions, the neon glow of billboards advertising MSI was ever-present in the area, watching from above as guiding beacons for our mutual purpose, a focusing hand to guide us to our destination.

Samuel Lakin

In a way, arriving at the location was like coming home. Finally I was here, and a smile broke on my face, despite my efforts to suppress it. Whether it was the crowds, the statues of famous players or even the beats popping out of the Red Bull DJ mobile (it overwhelmed me too) everything was simultaneously tangible and real.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit of a League esports superfan, but even I was overwhelmed by the huge crowd of people gathered and screaming to get in. I know I enjoy the game, and in a hypothetical sense of course other people should too, but I had never expected or experienced anything like this before.

Party and celebration hung in the air, and my earlier quest had found its home, a place where I was sure everyone was a member of the same community. There was an affirmation to all this, a pure enjoyment. It was no longer a hobby too seldom shared by others, but a facet of my life that was now at the forefront of my mind, completely absorbing my attention.

In the arena, I was stunned by the scale of production before me. I admit, I wondered how all the currently vacant seats would be filled, but one by one they were occupied by fans, and by the time the games began, I was watching a roaring sea of like-minded people.

I saw characters come to life with accuracy and care that I thought possible only for professionals, and my ears rang with the cries of scanning supporters as the professional players took the stage to battle it out.

Samuel Lakin

Even leading up to games, there was a big difference in the usually half-watched segments that set the scene and discussed players’ talents. Both those doing the analysis and the players themselves were there – seemingly at a moving distance – and I found myself even more interested than usual in what each could bring to the table and whether they would succeed in executing it before my eyes.

Going in alone was nerve-wracking, I admit, but I soon found myself conversing with new friends with a naturalness and ease that can only be produced in such an environment. After each series and the event as a whole, I came away not only with a day of entertainment, but also with new memories and friends with whom I had shared them.

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The draft seemed to matter more than ever as I watched the reactions of the teams and coaches as they fought it out to start the game with an advantage over their rivals. Where my usual cynicism for meta picks and patches would have overruled this phase, I saw it differently.

Gone was the traditional “what” of trading strong ADC for strong ADC, and in its place was the “why. Team priorities and styles were more prevalent than ever before, and I found myself understanding this subtle art and its shotcalling sequence within each five-man roster, regardless of my previous level of knowledge about the team.

This fascination only increased with each unorthodox choice, and the sly glimmer of watching these kinds of lock-ins at home was drowned in the thundering and roaring wave of the crowd, like some kind of single-minded organism reacting in chorus.

Samuel Lakin

In games, every kill, every goal and even particularly damaging transactions carried so much weight. The players demanded the attention of every set of eyes in the room, some hoping for their triumph, others for their agony, and so every input became excitement, became mass and became volume.

Rather than through a computer, the casters’ voices thundered inescapably through the hall, masterfully narrating the unfolding chaos as some fans cheered and others despaired, with particularly passionate flag-waving champions of their teams gathering songs of support from the rest of the audience.

MSI 2023 was the first time I saw an esports event live from the venue, but after such a wonderful and unforgettable time, it won’t be the last. Like so many moments before, and with the golden road now in sight for the LPL, this event can take place in the legendary halls of legends. And this time I can say – I was there.

Samuel Lakin

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