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Before Riot's LCS, the two biggest tournaments that League of Legends fans watched was IPL and MLG. These two tournaments were so huge for the League of Legends scene that you could essentially become labelled a 'professional' player by attending these tournaments. However, both of these tournaments have been dropped as Riot takes a commanding monopoly on players of their game. The IPL series were scrapped as IGN sold IPL to Blizzard, and MLG has dropped League of Legends off its schedule. What does this mean for League of Legends fans and aspiring players?
Becoming a professional in League of Legends is now mainstreamed. Players need only climb the Ranked 5s ladder to challenger and place well within the qualifier tournament that Riot sets up to become a professional player and enter the LCS. Blizzard is looking to follow the same business model as Riot with the creation of the WCS.
So can amateur tournaments like MLG, IPL, WCG, etc. and smaller tournaments for unknown players be completely disregarded in the League of Legends scene? Why bother joining Go4LoL, and similar tournaments when you could just be laddering to get to the qualifier series? I would argue, no. Although many players who set up amateur teams look to, ultimately, play in the LCS, it is a dream that many players do not believe of actually achieving. Similar to high school sport teams or post secondary sport teams, the sports these players engage in are hobbies. Smaller tournaments act as a talent scout for players as teams look for new players to replace current players.
Small tournaments create a new experience for players that is completely different from the grind that comes from laddering. An exciting experience that increases as the rounds get deeper. Semi-competitive players look to enhance their gaming experience by such tournaments which cannot be found in ranked 5s laddering. That being said, it comes as no surprise Riot still offers free RP and triumphant Ryze skins for small tournaments.
My team and I recently won one of these said small tournaments. Although the tournament was generally quite easy, poorly organized, slowly casted, and production was terrible, it brought an experience to me and my teammates that days of grinding solo queue could not give.
On a completely unrelated tangent, I would like to apologize to the teams we played in the 1st RushMid Tournament for completely stomping them. I think in the finals, the enemy top laner rage quit after I death-boxed the enemy Cho'Gath Jungle to give my top laner first blood and double buffs which resulted in him getting absolutely zoned, dove, and generally destroyed (not that I did not have faith in my top laner to do it regardless).
I guess this small tangent from my regular posts (which have been abysmal due to University finals) simply wants to highlight an importance of small tournaments that will exist in any sort of sport. Players will always look for a new experience in a game which small tournaments can provide. Furthermore, teams and leagues will always want to talent scout in these small tournaments if player are consistent in their victories. Although these tournaments are barely watched, they are essential to a survival to any game or sport.