Recently, the NA LCS Spring Split came to a close with Team Liquid hoisting the coveted championship trophy. Today’s article will sadly not have anything to do with that. Recently, Riot hosted its annual April Fools’ Day event. The match, like many in the years before, was an entertaining affair featuring the casters and players (and pigeon) wearing silly costumes, performing funny pre-game skits and playing unorthodox compositions that wouldn’t normally be seen. All in all, the match was an enjoyable breath of fresh air amidst all the serious business of playoffs. As the event concluded, I began to ask myself, “Why are these events not held more than once a year?”
Riot’s serious business
Riot’s event organization has been somewhat of a mixed bag for me recently. While events like the Mid-Season Invitational and Worlds have always been great competitive spectacles, their other events did not have the same desired effect. At the beginning of 2017, after a pouring outcry for more international competition, Riot announced two new international events: Rift Rivals and the “new and improved” All-Stars event.
On paper the Rift Rivals event sounded exciting. Each region would send their top teams of the spring season to compete against their regional rivals in a weekend’s worth of matches. Logistical flaws aside, the tournament at least sounded like an entertaining concept on paper. In actuality, it was not very impressive. Though Rift Rivals possessed a decent quality of matches, it lacked some excitement at times because of its non-existent stakes.
This theme seemed to carry over to 2017’s reworked All-Star event. In 2015 and 2016, the All-Star event was a more of lighthearted event similar to the annual April Fools match.The teams, whose rosters were selected by popular vote, would participate in a mix of gimmick and normal matches within the period of a few days. During this period, the event was treated as an unwinding period, capping off a long and grueling season of competition with a bit of cheeky fun that brought the community together. This feeling of togetherness and fun was something the 2017 All-Stars was missing. For 2017 and onward, all the goofy gimmick matches with the exception of the annual one-versus-one tournament would go. This would only leave for the regular structured matches that fans are all too familiar with.
Even with the promise of international League of Legends action, these two new events didn’t feel all that exciting. The lack of stakes gave little weight to the eventual outcome of an event. On top of this, there was nothing to really make the events stand out and generate interest.
Looking for laughs
So why am I calling for more silly events like the April Fools’ match? Do I not enjoy all the strategy and excitement of serious competition? Doesn’t it all seem a bit off brand? While there is an argument against such events, the pros outweigh the cons. Though they lack a serious competitive atmosphere, these gimmick events more than make up for it in sheer entertainment and production value. All the costumes and funny banter come together to make a fun and memorable experience unique to professional environment. These events break a monotony that comes with the constant “serious business” that Riot wants to portray for most of the year. Players and viewers alike are allowed to simply indulge themselves in some harmless fun without any stress of losing a place in the standings or a shot at the championship.
Much like a fine wine, these gag events will allow the professional scene to breath and preserve all of the rich flavors that are offered during the regular seasons. Serious competition year round will only create jaded viewers that will cause viewership to suffer. Though serious competition is probably the more worthwhile event to watch, I believe gimmick events can play an important part in preventing a staleness that constant serious events can create.Ultimately the decision comes down to Riot on how they organize their events. If it was up to me, however, I would definitely try to work in a bit more fun throughout the year.
Featured Image and images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr