Yesterday, Riot Games revealed that once again the regional championships for North America and Europe will head to PAX Prime and Gamescom, two of the biggest video game conventions on each continent. It’s a move that positions League of Legends esports on the center stage for a wide audience.
But not everyone is happy with the move. In a lengthy blog post earlier this morning, Counter Logic Gaming coach Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykkles took criticized the move on the grounds of unfair scheduling.
“As a coach of a professional team, Riot’s decision makes me deeply concerned about my team’s adequate preparation for the World Championship,” Mykkles wrote.
Last night, Mykkles outlined his issue on Twitter. PAX Prime is two weeks after Gamescom, meaning American teams will have two fewer weeks to practice for the world final than their European counterparts. Most importantly, Europeans will be able to travel to Korea two weeks earlier, gaining invaluable practice time against the best teams in the world.
From personal experience: Scrims at worlds against SKT/Ozone/Royal/OMG helped us more than one entire split in the LCS.— Marcel Feldkamp (@CLG_dexter) July 16, 2014
But is Mykkles making a mountain of a mole hill? The final event in Korea is slated for October 19th, nearly two months past the regional event, but the earlier stages in Singapore and Taiwan have yet to be announced. Mykkles sets a “conservative” estimate as Sept. 19, considering the international travel involved and number of matches needed to be played.
“This gives an insufficient window of time to travel, recover from jet lag, set up adequate living conditions, and practice,” he says.
LCS commentator David “Phreak” Turley came to the defense of the schedule on Twitter last night.
@ggCMonteCristo Damn, cuz those KR regionals really stopped SKT from winning last time.— David Turley (@RiotPhreak) July 16, 2014
Of course, that argument doesn’t actually address Mykkles’ concerns. SK Telecom T1 K got to practice against the best teams in the world before the World Championship in America last year. They live in Korea and practice against those teams daily.
But there are some good reasons for the schedule, as Turley later pointed out. It’s better for fans and spectators since they are not forced to choose which regional they watch over a single weekend. And being watched is, ultimately, the purpose of a competitive team.
This isn’t the first time Counter Logic Gaming has run afoul of Riot scheduling. A planned bootcamp with Alliance after the All-Star Invitational earlier this year never happened since the Summer Split was slated to start two weeks after.
It’s also not the first time Mykkles has criticized Riot’s commitment to competitive integrity. When Riot refused to accommodate Gambit Gaming after their own poor planning prevented the team from gaining visas for an LCS week in London, Mykkles compared the league to World Wrestling Entertainment.
“It seems to me more likely that Riot prioritizes placing the EU and NA Regionals at Gamescom and PAX respectively over competitive integrity,” said Mykkles. “I understand the desire to create an awesome atmosphere for fans and maximize the pageantry of the event, but I don’t think it should come at the price of the competitive integrity of the World Championship.”
Mykkles didn't criticize everything he saw in the plan. The new playoff format includes best-of-five series in the semifinals, a welcome change that ensure the best teams in the regions really make it through.
And that’s where Mykkles may be getting just a little bit ahead of himself. Counter Logic Gaming is atop the LCS standings with a 13-7 record, but if this season is any indication, that won’t last for long. They’re still a long way off from qualifying for the World Championships.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube