In Defense of LoL

Today I want to talk about something that’s been bothering me a lot recently.  I spend a lot of time on Team Liquid, particularly in the League of Legends sub forum.  For anyone who doesn’t know, is a forum that was made for competitive Starcraft Broodwar players and is one of the most highly regarded forums for Starcraft outside of Korea.  In the past couple years, the focus has shifted on the site from Broodwar towards Starcraft 2 and in the same timespan, a fairly large LoL community popped up on the forums and has grown to the point where we have our own LoL sub forum on teamliquid.  While I love the TL LoL community, there have been some issues between some members of the SC2 community and the LoL community.  Essentially any time a professional LoL event is going on, there are dismayed Starcraft players who come into the live report threads to trash talk LoL as a competitive game.  Their gripes are always the same, namely that MOBAs are less skillful games than Starcraft and that of all the mainstream MOBAs, LoL has the lowest skill ceiling.  They think that by promoting a less difficult game, the competitive LoL community is hurting the future of eSports by encouraging casual games as opposed to competitive games.  My goal with this post is to prove them wrong.

I want to start by refuting the point that MOBAs are less skillful games than RTSs.  I cannot argue that the mechanical difficulty of a game like Starcraft 2 is considerably higher than LoL.  You simply need to do more actions per minute to compete at a high level in a game of SC2 than you do in a game of LoL.  But with that being said, I want to ask why it is that some people place such a high value on mechanical skills in an eSport.  Since when do we attribute skill merely to games with mechanical barriers that require countless hours to overcome?  I say that you would be hard pressed to find someone who would argue that Chess has a low skill ceiling, but yet, Chess has infinitely less mechanics involved in playing it than even LoL.  So why is it that when this discussion comes up between two video games, players become so fixated on mechanics?  The beauty of high level MOBA play rarely comes from individual execution, and rather it comes from the flawless executions of teamwork.  Watching a team of five players execute a single strategy perfectly in LoL is impressive on a completely separate level than watching a professional Broodwar player systematically destroy an inferior opponent.  It’s just a straightforward case of comparing apples and oranges.  MOBAs test a different skillset than RTSs, and while it’s perfectly acceptable to be more impressed by one than another, it’s foolish to act like one’s preferences are objective fact.

Moving on to the comparison of how skillful LoL is compared to other MOBAs, again, I think the issue largely comes from computer game players fixating on mechanics.  The mechanical ceiling in all MOBAs is relatively low compared to other genres of competitive games, but as I stated earlier, this isn’t the focal point of these games.  It doesn’t make sense to say that DotA is an innately more competitive game due to the fact that a DotA player has to do a few more actions per minute to deny and manage a courier.  Ultimately, these mechanical differences aren’t what make the games interesting to watch.  The facets of these games that captivate viewers are things like champion and build synergies, roaming and map control and impressively executed teamfights.  And frankly, I don’t see how these higher level facets of the MOBA genre are so much easier in LoL than they are in DotA.  Traditional MOBA players like to complain that stronger towers, summoner spells, lack of denying and lack of loss of gold on death make LoL an easier game, but that really begs the question, “why aren’t old DotA pros flocking to LoL for free money?”  The fact of the matter is that there is more money in LoL than there is in DotA right now, and looking at the popularity trends, this disparity is only going to get more extreme.  If succeeding at LoL were really so much easier, wouldn’t we see DotA teams transitioning to LoL for easy money?  We’ve seen instances of DotA/HoN pros switching to LoL (Vigoss, Chu8 for example), and while they’ve proven quite capable of doing well at LoL in the Solo Queue environment, the lack of crossover success at the tournament level speaks volumes to the relative depth of LoL.  As I see it, the differences that DotA players like to cling to as examples of LoL being easier are all really just design decisions made by Riot.  And while I can understand and accept that some might not like the way they drive the gameplay, I don’t actually think there’s a good argument out there to say that they have created a game that requires less skill or has less depth than DotA.  The games feel different, but to call one better and one worse based on highly debated gameplay mechanics just feels wrong.

The overarching point I’m trying to make here is most of the criticism that people throw at LoL is unfounded.  It seems that some people want to cry that the sky is falling and that the next step is the Mario Party 13 Pro Circuit, but in reality Riot has actually made a great game that’s worthy of our respect as competitive gamers.  The game has been out for years and the tournament scene has fostered great innovation that has driven the metagame to new and exciting heights.  Professional players routinely show that they’re more skilled than casual players and that the real skill ceiling of the game is nowhere near being reached.  Regardless of your personal feelings about LoL, you can’t deny its merits as a competitive game, let alone the advancement it brings to the state of eSports by bringing new viewers and players to the table.

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49 Responses to In Defense of LoL

  1. Pakman says:

    I am at about 1550 ELO in LoL and when I was playing Starcraft 2 I was a diamond rank in 1v1. I’d like to think I have a little bit of experience in both realms.

    There is no way you can call high level LoL play “casual”. The game has a lot of depth when you consider all the variables that go into a single game. Summoner Spell, character choice, and item builds create a plethora of variety and they are just the tip of the ice burg.

    There aren’t a terrible amount of times you’d be impressed by mechanics in LoL but there are plenty of situations that flaunt good coordination and intelligent decision making that make the game entertaining to watch.

  2. brutemax8 says:

    Nice post Mog.

    I find LoL more fun to play than to watch, and SC2 more fun to watch than to play.

    IMO MOBA’s suffer from inherent design flaws surrounding creep waves and lane pushing that hold the genre back from being regarded as the pinnacle of esports. Watching a hero moving about last hitting will forever be more boring than watching a player unveil his base layout, expand, scout, and in so doing reveal his initial tech path and strategy. “B’ing” back to grab a Doran’s and boots just doesn’t have the same depth.

    The meta in LoL is also quite stagnant, while in SC2 the meta is constantly evolving. This engenders more in-depth and engaging commentary, something LoL certainly lacks.

    So while I agree that it’s silly for SC2 adherents to dismiss LoL because it’s easier to play mechanically, I do feel there are additional reasons other than a lack of mechanics that will keep the MOBA genre from reaching the top of the esports scene.

    • smashgizmo says:

      I have to disagree with you on a number of points here.

      While I understand what you’re saying about last hitting being boring to watch, I have to object to comparing this to the more intricate points of early SC2. That’s like saying that it’s boring to watch workers mine in SC2… sure, the point is true, but there are more interesting things to watch at that point in the game. Early game in LoL has a lot of interesting play from PvP mechanics in lane to jungle buff control to roaming and ganking. Especially compared to a year ago, LoL has become a lot more active and intricate in the first 10 minutes of the game and I think it’s silly to say that watching last hitting is boring when there are so many other things going on in the early game.

      I also disagree that the meta has been stagnant in LoL. While one can argue that it’s been AP/Bruiser top, AP mid, Bruiser jungle, and AD Carry + Support bot for a long time now, there are other intricacies to the metagame that have been constantly developing. Think about how much our definition of a support has changed in the last 6 months, or about the enormous shifts in jungler popularity as the role of jungle shifts from ganking semi-carry to ganking support to farming tanky semi-carry. I honestly think LoL just promotes bad casters and I’m not sure why, but suffice to say that I think this is an issue with the casters and not with the game.

      And on your closing point, I’m not sure how to respond. LoL is already sharing the top of the eSports scene with SC2 right now, if not ahead of SC2. Again, I can understand the issues people have with the game, but LoL’s already proven that it can bring in the viewership numbers over a long period of time. So I’m not really sure how you can still hold the opinion that it isn’t on top of the esports scene already or that it won’t be moving forward.

      • bruteMax says:

        Good points Mog, I stand corrected. My understanding of LoL certainly isn’t as thorough as yours, and I appreciate your reply.

        However I do think the meta is quite stagnant, despite the points you’ve raised. Introducing new heroes to the mix increases the complexity of the game and open new roles for champions that previously were more pigeon-holed. And the jungle remake certainly has broadened the concept of what makes for a viable jungler. But the roles remain as you’ve defined, and the game plays out more-or-less the same as a result. Whether a jungler farms his own jungle or counter-jungles doesn’t change the fact that you have one jungler, one AP, one AD and support bot because of a stationary uber-creep, and one sustainer-type. And much of the time early-game they’re all killing creeps.

        LoL is a much less complex game than SC2. This isn’t to say it’s less-justifiable as an esport, or that it isn’t as good a game as SC2 or any other MOBA. I argue it is so because, at least competitively, it is played on a single map. This reinforces a certain way of playing, which in turn leads to a stagnant meta. Why is laning such a dominant theme in LoL? Is a MOBA not a MOBA if there aren’t any lanes? No creep waves?

        I think the meta wouldn’t be as stagnant if new maps were introduced, and with them new concepts. Can competitive MOBAs support a map pool?

        For example, how about introducing the concept of elevation in LoL? Along with greater visibility, it could extend the range of AD abilities. Or introduce a construct akin to a Xel’Naga tower that doesn’t shoot or have hp, but again grants greater visibility and extends the range of AP abilities? How about a map without turrets, but with creeps that come out in waves to build a turret at a spot you’ve designated? How about a map with no creeps spawning at all? Why always have the item shop in the SW and NE corners, armed with an insta-gib cannon? Why do players respawn at the item shop? How about maps of varying sizes (XY dimensions)?

        New maps introduce new ways of playing LoL, and thus promote a real change in the meta. More summoner spells would be used, new champions would rise to the forefront, and team comps would vary greatly. That leads to a change in the meta, not whether a jungler is semi-tanky or semi-carry. Most esport genres have map pools, and I don’t understand what it is about LoL that precludes one.

        LoL certainly brings in the vewership, and that’s awesome. However the amount of $$ involved is lower than it is in SC2. This could be because LoL is newer to the esports scene than Starcraft, or that as a team esport it’s harder to cheer for than individual-centric games (that’s another argument I suppose). Regardless, I think by increasing the complexity via map variety, a greater focus is placed on creativity, and the game as a whole becomes more dynamic. This can’t help but bring in yet more viewers and more $$.

      • AngryMuffin says:

        I have been playing LoL since beta and I would like to say that Mog hasn’t quite addressed how much the meta has changed. Although it is true that the current meta is AP mid, AD bot, etc., that only came to prominence after Dreamhack in Season One. LoL has gone through no jungler with 2 top, no tank, heals on every champ, ad ranged mid, etc.

        If you got into the game within the last half year, I entirely understand that it might seem stagnant, but I have to argue against this belief that SC2’s meta has been notably more dynamic than LoL’s. In SC2, you have different build orders and unit strategies, but the overall idea is the same – you either go aggressive expansion or turtle depending on your matchup, build your forces, scout, and kill you opponent (not in any specific order). Exactly the same way in LoL, nerfs and buffs change what the best strategy is even if the general play style doesn’t change. Also just like SC2, players will often experiment with a new set up or build that employs a more effective and efficient move. Think about the LoL AD bot builds: we have gone through Blood Thirster rush, Infinity Edge rush, and 2 dorans and wriggles.

        I am not arguing about which game requires more skill – I simply want to make it clear that the meta does change quite often for the exact same reasons as SC2’s meta shifts.

      • Kana-chan says:

        One thing I’d really like to add: the is no “set-meta” to this game that dictates *exactly* what you have to have. What it is, is a player issue, where people just don’t want to break out of comfortable routines. I’ve seen anti-mage AD characters go mid and AP go top, or Jungle on certain champions, and meet the same (if not greater) success just because of the additional confusion the swapped roles pushed on their enemies.

        This is one of the reasons why M5 has been so popular recently. As I understand it, they treat the jungle as a constant battleground, frequently invading or dueling and punishing enemy junglers with whatever they have before it. Now we’re seeing a lot more aggressive jungling across all ELOs. Nothing changed, it’s just that one team showed how you can turn complacency against an enemy. Knowing what your opponent is going to do ahead of time is one of the greatest strengths a player can have, but it’s up to that player to actually use that knowledge and truly plan ahead for the counter-game.

        On to bruteMAX’s post…

        The simple reason is, the map has a massive impact on the game already, far beyond what other games do. With LoL’s already very large cast of characters, adding or removing a mechanic can easily create a monster of a champion. Say you had a map where controlling an area grants additional range on spells, like you suggested. Unless that’s an inconsequential buff, Xerath has the potential to outrange and slaughter anyone when using his own range boost. On top of that, what about already massive-range abilities, like Zigg’s “Mega Inferno Bomb” or Lux’s “Finales Funkeln”, how much more of a range do they add? Pantheon, Twisted Fate, and Nocturne, do they gain the ability to teleport even further away? Taking away creeps on another map makes a large hole in champion income, and the entire game would need to be examined to see how that would change the flow. Do champions do enough damage to towers at all stages of the game? Should towers not hit as hard with less creeps? Should there even be a jungle in that case? Multiple lanes, or just one?

        Adding a new map with different mechanics would virtually create a new game with every map. It doesn’t even accomplish your goal of “shaking up the meta,” it simply creates a new meta for such a different map that has zero effect on the others, and that in turn just creates more problems for new players trying to watch or get into the game. Why do people play so differently when the map looks the same? Why does this site say Champion X sucks, but that one says he/she/it is incredible? How many mechanics can you actually add before the game becomes an incomprehensible mess when you account for some 376 skills (not counting passives and items)? Dominion was a great new map, but didn’t really add any new mechanics to combat besides health potions and a group buff, which is something already on Summoner’s Rift (Exalted with Baron Nashor). The game’s goals changed, but the gameplay stayed roughly the same.

        That’s what League of Legends is about; Pitting your skills with your favorite champion against other players, and being backed up by your own team. Adding maps just for the sake of having maps creates unnecessary knowledge-blocks to entry level players and turns competitive play into “who can ban/grab the most broken champion on this map in particular*”

        That’s what I’d rather watch. Two teams of similar skill fighting it out over who can out-play the other, not one team winning because their Lux can ult the entire map, or Twisted Fate being a worthless pick because his passive doesn’t bring any benefit to a map with zero creeps.

        *No snarky comments about X being OP on Summoner’s Rift.

  3. Caller says:

    LoL and SC2 suck because they are both no skill games. BW4lyfe yo

    no but seriously LoL has gone downhill ever since they nerfed mordekaiser. I tried to come back for tiamat fiona and they got rid of that so tldr LoL sucks.

    SC2 is worse though.

  4. staten says:

    I think the complexities of a team dynamic alone raise the level of lol. You can not compare 5 people coming together to reach consistent success to 1 person reaching the same success. It is like comparing singles and doubles in tennis.

  5. Blobadjian says:

    >Traditional MOBA players like to complain that stronger towers, summoner spells, lack of denying and lack of loss of gold on death make LoL an easier game, but that really begs the question, “why aren’t old DotA pros flocking to LoL for free money?” The fact of the matter is that there is more money in LoL than there is in DotA right now, and looking at the popularity trends, this disparity is only going to get more extreme. If succeeding at LoL were really so much easier, wouldn’t we see DotA teams transitioning to LoL for easy money?

    First of all, that’s not what “begs the question” means. Google it.

    Second, the fact that the game is easier doesn’t mean it’s easier for top players to succeed. It means the opposite. It means that it’s easier to hit the skill ceiling. It means that being dominant is more difficult. When a relative noob can compete head on with a professional, it’s obviously harder to consitently earn money.

    It’s sort of what Idra has been going on about when it comes to BW vs SC2: the mechanical difficulty makes the difference between a good and a top player GIGANTIC in BW, but much much smaller in SC2. In that way, the easier the game, the harder it is for top professionals to earn money in.

    • smashgizmo says:

      Okay, fair enough on begging the question, I was unaware that the common usage is completely wrong. You learn something new every day, thanks for the correction.

      As for mechanical skill ceilings, firstly I’d like to say that I don’t think that anyone has hit the mechanical ceiling in LoL by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not sure if you were trying to imply this, but there are still noticeable mechanical discrepancies even among pro players in LoL. And furthermore, I’m not sure exactly why it’s a bad thing that these discrepancies ultimately have a smaller impact on the game in LoL than they do in Starcraft. As I see it, it’s nice when having flawless mechanics leads to a surmountable edge, as opposed to the situation in Broodward, where even at the pro level (where everyone is practicing 60+ hours a week), Flash can still overpower 90% of the pro scene on pure mechanics alone. Having games be closer despite mechanical discrepancies seems like it fosters higher level strategic development of the metagame more so than driving players towards perfecting mechanics to even be competitive.

      • Zizoz says:

        But that begs the question: if the «wrong» meaning is more common than the «right» one, is it still wrong? I’d argue that it isn’t necessarily. Our language isn’t as stagnant as you think!

      • Dylan says:

        Sorry you are wrong here, it’s a little insulting actually that you would spout nonsense like that. Flash among the pro BW players actually has average APM, all the top BW players hare similar mechanically and Flash’ APM is actually average among them, it is his decision making (which many people call his ‘star sense’) that makes him the current most formidable player because of his ability to instantly recognize and perfectly adapt builds to put him in the best situation possible, its players like him that you will never find in a MOBA simply because that kind of genius can’t actually supported because it is a team based game. His current record this season is 13-2, his first loss came about because his opponent ‘meta’d him in analysing dozens of replays to find his scanning pattern so that he could hide a crucial tech structure to trick flash, thats how good he is, you need to meticulously plan a build to the tee which ultimately leads to a one off deception he’ll be ready for next time to beat him.

        I could be a little biased, I always proffered single person sports to team based ones, ie tennis over football

      • corumjhaelen says:

        “Flash can still overpower 90% of the pro scene on pure mechanics alone. ”
        That’s a complete myth, no he absolutely can’t. He’s not even the best terran mechanically (I’d say it’s Baby, and that Light and Bogus’ multitask are probably better than Flash’s).
        As for your comment about mechanics, that’s an old debate between Sc2 and bw fans, but I think for 90% of people who know both games, BW’s strategy is on a whole other level of difficulty (the question being is it because of the game or of its youth). I’d argue that mechanics and strategy are two completely independent problems.

        By the way as a bw fan, the complaints I read about LoL in the sc2 forum are just sweet sweet irony. At least bw and sc2 are in the same genre. Those complaints ar nothing but jealousy that sc2 is not at the top of esport titles…
        Interesting read overall.

  6. EVOKE says:

    Hey Mogwai, that’s a very thoughtful post and all, but…
    Did you used to frequent SWF? I feel like I’ve seen you there on the Fox/Falco forums (only ones I inhabit).

  7. midnght says:

    Are you seriously using the statement “Why arent dota pros moving to lol for money” as evidence? Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe dota pros play dota, because they love the game, not because of money?

    • Cramca says:

      But why do they complain about LoL being “too easy” then? Just continue enjoying your own game while we enjoy ours.

      • crmxxx says:

        Why do you even care? Why don’t you just enjoy LoL?

        About LoL having more money: The International.

    • Paladinoras says:

      And I’m sure love of the game pays for their bills.

      These are professional gamers, they make their living from playing e-sports, if they can get more money by playing a so-called “easier” game, then they’d do it.

      • Nydrin says:

        Part of the reason people become pro gamers is because they enjoy playing the games. Why would anyone want to grind something they hate for 8+ hours a day. Might as well get a real job and put effort into that. It’s ridiculous to suggest that every pro gamer started doing it just for the money. Most of these guys only make money streaming anyway, the tournaments don’t provide shit.

  8. asdadsa says:

    Really weak arguments regarding to dota vs lol. If u played both games dota and lol it would be pretty obvious to you that dota has way more deep gameplay.

    • Anonymous says:

      … and you call his arguments weak.

    • Korlah says:

      Your arguments, on the other hand, are sound and complete. I played both, and I agree with Mog. Could you name any other reason than “if u played both ” ?

    • asdadsaa says:

      Funny how I play both on a regular basis for years on DotA and now about a year on LoL and completely think the opposite.

  9. Tway says:

    Of the aforementioned games Chess is the hardest! 😡

  10. MathMage says:

    Go > Chess 😛

    It’s indisputable that the skill floor of SC2 is WAY WAY higher than in LoL. It’s indisputable that the individual skill ceiling in SC2 is WAY WAY higher than in LoL. I’d even say it’s indisputable that SC2 is a more entertaining spectator sport: more is happening in a shorter period of time, and it’s harder for the announcers to simply miss things 1v1 than it is in 5v5.

    But strategic depth is about equal, and team coordination replaces mechanical skill as the second dimension of success. This is why LoL solo queue is so unsatisfying for many people, and why tournaments are nevertheless intricate displays of skill.

    • alphaferric says:

      I think watching SC2 is more entertaining because it has some of the best casters in esports (day9, tastosis, to a lesser extent bitterdam and husky), while pro casters for LoL don’t seem to be on the same relate-able level. This is probably because all of these guys have been playing SC since they were in junior high so they just love the game that much, its ingrained in their lives. LoL, and mobas in general just haven’t been around long enough for that kind of dedication and feeling for the game.

      All of that said, I have to agree its apples and oranges, and TL has become pretty hostile in trying to compare the two, especially after fruitdealer (GSL winner) switched to coaching a LoL team because he liked the game a lot more and had hit a stunt in Sc2.

    • salanthro says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily say SC2 is more entertaining but that could be because I play LOL. I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. Everything else I agree with though. Especially about Go :3.

  11. Jujj1 says:

    LOL = You play at your very best, enemy hero flashes….skill involved to press a button for flash?
    Double zero….I always taught that they should implement a similar system to DotA with the flashes, for example if you hit an opponent he can’t flash for 2-3 sec….now THAT will make the game so much better it is indescribable

    • MathMage says:

      Flash has a 4 minute cooldown, do something. Ever heard of a timing attack?

    • Kana-chan says:

      Yeah, having an enemy flash away sucks. That’s why it’s on a four minute cooldown. That’s why you can flash after them. Heck, there are plenty of champions with in-built anti-flash mechanics. Skarner can ult someone as they flash and yank them straight back.

      Baiting a flash can be every bit as useful as actually hurting your opponent. This is why I consider any gank I do as a jungler a success if the enemy blows flash. Now it’s down and my lane-mate has an easier time controlling their lane, even initiating. Success if they die.

      It’s critical success when they die *and* flash. Knowing that your enemy has means you have all the time before an engagement to plan ahead for it. Would you really jump in to a fight and not assume Mordekaiser has ult + ignite up? Why not assume flash is up and plan accordingly as well?

    • zebano says:

      You can’t press f to flash after him and finish the kill?

  12. Gilvado says:

    The error in the thinking of people who disparage LoL as an eSport is that they care more about how easy it is to *see* the skill of a player, rather than how much skill that player actually has. In SC2 (and DOTA2 to a lesser extent), more difficult mechanics make it easier to spot skill differences between players in the short term.

    But the ease with which you can spot skill differences doesn’t speak to the true skill involved in a game. The simple reality is that professional LoL players (those in tournament play) usually practice 6-8 hours a day to compete, and participate in scrims as often as they can. Teams that don’t keep up this regime rapidly begin to fall behind. And if there was a legitimate Korean-style team house anywhere in the world, with players practicing and scrimming 8-10 hours a day, watched closely by a team manager, they would quickly become the best team in the world. If there was some super-human team of players who could all manage 16 hour days consistently, I’m sure that they would end up being as dominant as any of the current BW frontrunners.

    As long as more practice = better chance to win, the game isn’t at the ‘skill ceiling’. And I think it’s pretty likely that it literally won’t ever happen.

  13. generalnerd says:

    I would disagree with statement that SC2 is indisputably a more entertaining spectator sport. While SC and SC2 definitely have the eSports lead (being the first to market, basically), my experience with watching broadcasts of both SC2 and LoL with different audiences makes me believe that while for people already in the gaming community SC2 is more entertaining, for people not familiar with the games, LoL is definitely the superior entertainment. I think this is because LoL has been designed with the idea of visually intuitive mechanics as a core function–it takes a lot of knowledge of SC2 and gaming in general to appreciate a good SC2 match (I had to have the tech trees carefully explained to me when I watched my first competitive SC2 matches to understand the strategies), whereas with LoL a person with very little experience can easily wrap their head around what is going on based on visual design cues. Some of these are more or less inherent in the genre (taking towers being major objectives, respawn timers, etc.), but Riot has done a great job of making so the champions will do things that make sense to a lay person (big guys are hard to kill, small characters are squishy and need protecting, having glowing things around you means you’re more powerful, etc.).

    So yes, perhaps to a more experienced audience, SC2 matches are a finer thing to watch, but only football players watched football, there would be no Super Bowl.

  14. AdmiralAardvark says:

    I don’t think that comparing MOBA games to SC and SC2 is at all valid. For one thing, mechanical skill in LoL, DotA, and the lesser known games is DIFFERENT. It is also easier, but if DotA and LoL had enough spells to fill half the keyboard with hotkeys, the game would be just as challenging. The games are different because in LoL and DotA you are expected to do more with less. LoL compensates somewhat with pregame stats, runes and masteries and summoner spells, and to a lesser extent with items, while DotA compensates with many active items and a courier, but on the other hand many champions have a spell that is completely passive. Some have many such spells.

    LoL makes the effort to give champions a reason to use every spell in their arsenal and confines the passives to their own section (innates). DotA just has a bunch of active items.

    Also, for those who say the metagame in LoL is stagnant: Pro DotA right now is the same 20 champions. LoL has about 60 viable champions.

  15. Soloside says:

    I love you smash. I can’t wait to watch you dunk on more kids.

    ❤ soloside

  16. Dick Chang says:

    Well thought out and well communicated. Mogwai, you’ve always been one of the most intellectual gamers I’ve ever played with.

  17. Adam says:

    I agree with a lot of your points, but I think stating that mechanics do not indicate skill is a bit out there. Two things exist in most games being mechanics and strategy.

    Applying the logic of mechanics don’t mean jack to anything really breaks down. Chess does have mechanics, they are just behind the scenes. (They have a timer so they must make the right moves quickly.)

    I have played Quake at the Professional Level (My Favorite) and it rely’s heavily on mechanics to become skilled enough to get a kill when in those situations that your are at a disadvantage. Then they have strategy in order to deny your opponent of gaining an advantage on you. I can argue out of shadow of a doubt that Halo is an easier game then Quake. Essentially the strategy is similar in Halo, but the Mechanics are not even close to the same level. (Of course this is opinion, but I do have logic to backup my opinion.)

    Ignoring games completely, I find mechanics extremely important. Playing an instrument, driving a car, or even tackling a time trial for a lap in a car.

    Either way great write up, I enjoyed reading. Lets not bust on games other people like, just because we think they are less skillful. If you feel they are less skillful, then continue following whatever elite views you have on the game you are supporting.

  18. AdumbroDeus says:

    What it ultimately comes down to is balancing the complexity of the game with increasing the depth, complexity is cost, not a benefit. What complexity does (whether it’s in terms of burden of knowledge or technical skill) is decrease the number of players that can get to the meat of the game.

    The meat of the game is the actual pvp, picking options based on what you believe will counter your opponents and succeeding or failing based on your ability to read and judge your opponent based on limited information. Technical barriers and knowledge barriers merely delay this.

    Granted, there are a number of other considerations (defensiveness, balance, too much snowballing, etc), but at this point I don’t think anyone has reached the skill ceiling in LoL at all. The game has proven to reliably separate based on skill.

    Whether it’s better then others is an open question, but it’s definitely a good competitive game.

  19. akarki says:

    Another silly thing that keeps happening is that sc2 players bash LoL because it’s an easier version of dota.
    Then riddle me this: what is sc2 in comparison to BW?

  20. trollstarzzz says:

    Here you remark on something that is perhaps subtle yet totally intrinsic to League of Legends, and that is the game itself is a platform. The game itself is limitless, no two matches have to be alike. Players decide how far they choose to take their game based on their imagination and the strategies they can concoct. M5 dominated Hanover because they made plays no one expected or could even predict. They derived a team strategy and picked characters around that.

    This game isn’t about mechanics (but of course landing skill shots, last hits, and so on are necessary without question), but imagination. Players’ ability to imagine strategies and execute is where the heart of this game lies. The actual game itself provides the tools necessary to do accomplish those very things. Because of this, League of Legends will remain at the forefront of this genre, and probably competitive gaming for years to come.

  21. James Bond says:

    I am genuinely curious if you think that summoner abilities and masteries are actually balanced. In my opinion there is no way you can balance a free blink without putting the 3 second cooldown on hit. The entire point of it being usable under pressure indicates that it should be a supplemental escape ability. However, if you are caught out of position, why should you not be punished for it?

    Also, in DOTA you can run any strategy you want without one being completely superior. For example a team whose strategy revolves around a hard carry still has a chance to win against a push line up. In league of legends there is the 1-1-2 and it is clearly superior than the 2-1-2.
    You also run into the problem where the developer creates heroes that fit the metagame instead of creating heroes for the sake of hero creation. That guarantees that those heroes will become obsolete once the metagame shifts or that they will require tweaking.

    Another problem that I have is that Baron is too strong. Often in competitive games, there will be a period of farming and then everyone is forced to orbit around baron because its too easy to kill and it provides too much of an advantage. With roshan, you only need to worry about 1 person whereas Baron provides your entire team with +megadamage and healing. Baron doesnt inhibit snowballing, it forces it. You will have games where its 30k/30k both teams. Then somehow one team barons and its 35k/30k and they get a free dragon so its like 37k/32k and so on 45k/35k etc. Baron essentially makes it so during those 4 minutes, if you pub train, you basically have a 6v5 scenario. In dota it is the same, except you deal with 5 people and 1 person who resurrects, which is much different.

    I have more issues but I want to ask you if you think that oracle is too cheap. 400 gold means that you can get it relatively early. That is just not fun or interesting and stops a lot of interesting gameplay. Restricting wards to 4 or even 6 and increasing the cost of oracle to 750 or even more would stop the baron centric gameplay.

    • Pushover says:

      Flash is a lot more balanced than it was previously. Most gap closers work favorably with someone who flashes straight back. The fact that most heroes take it might show that it is fairly strong, but it’s mostly because there are no really great options for escaping in summoner skills. Teleport is really easy to disrupt and takes forever, ghost doesn’t allow you to go over walls (but is next best for escaping), cleanse doesn’t get you out of anything, just reduces the amount of time you are slowed. Heal gets wrecked by Ignite, Exhaust only works on one person, which usually you are running from a gank, so there is at least 1 other person.

      If you look at M5 at Hannover in the finals, they innovated with the Urgot w/ blue Alistar roam, Lee jungle. That was effectively a 1/1/1 lane with 2 heroes ganking. Leona Jarvan from Goose was another innovation, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be quite strong enough to work exceptionally well, and has a very slim margin of error.

      No comment about the hero creation, there are a lot of heroes that straight fit roles. Lulu however really feels different than other supports, except maybe Janna, since she is much more interactive. Hopefully there will be more unique champions.

      If anything, I feel that Dragon is what is too strong. About half the time I see that jungler gets a decent gank bottom, doesn’t even need to kill the 2 heroes, and then suddenly they get a 1k gold lead because the other team is down 2 heroes when they go over to do dragon. You can’t gank top past ~10 minutes unless you will get the tower with it because of dragon. Baron is a lot harder to take, the number of times that a team loses because they tried to take baron at the wrong time is quite high, and Smite makes it so that a single hero can contest Baron,

      In DotA, you spend 1100 gold to get an item that gives 250 HP. In League you spend 475 to get 180 health. Simply put, in LoL, gold is worth about twice as much what it is in DotA. Creeps are worth about half the bounty of DotA. If oracle was more expensive, early game would be even more passive since there would be very few effective ways to stop 4 wards completely stopping ganks. Also Baron is 1500 gold to the team, dragon is 950, a tower is 750, so the gold numbers are seriously off, unless the team with baron gets 2 towers. I feel that unless a team sneaked a baron in a very unsafe manner (which is usually out of desperation) the other team has no reason to be unprepared for 5 people taking on a neutral monster that hits like a tower, and really confines the team, trapping them, unless they are already far behind, and I would honestly rather see a baron push than a 5 minute grind of a tower.

  22. FragRaptor says:

    My main issue with LoL and all DotA/MOBA Games is that you do not control half of the game.

    The thing that makes eSports looks good to the media, and the thing that is respectable about other games namely starcraft, and even FPS games, is that when a person wins they arn’t being helped out by a computer. There arn’t minions that are killing towers, it isn’t a conscious decision to make them. It isn’t a conscious decision to make them attack things. It just happens. Unlike in StarCraft where when you let the computers battle it out, that is YOUR decision and you can end it anytime there is a problem.

    Even in FPS games there isn’t a notion of computers doing things, the player is ACTIVELY shooting well, or is ACTIVELY moving from one place to the next. It is something that feels right about it. I makes it feel like you are actually watching people play against another team of humans. While in LoL/MOBA Games there is the possibility that you are going to be killed by a program that isn’t doing anything else but what it was programmed.

    It just looks bad from the perspective of a traditional sports person looking at eSports because it epitomizes what they expect from esports. They see people playing computer games, playing against computers. Even though sometimes you get the fight between the heros which is indeed the coolest part about it, just the notion that the fight away from the heros isn’t being worried about, it just looks bad.

    Personally I like to see the hero wars, but I don’t like the minions, or creeps, or other non-human controlled elements. It dehumanizes what we know as eSports, humans using computers to fight it out, as opposed to humans fighting beside or against computers to win. The computer becomes less of a tool and more of an ally. This kind of appeals to the single-player savvy casual gamer, which might be why it is very popular. But that mindset is not a mindset that is conducive for the furthering of eSports, in my opinion.

    I think LoL could be improved if the game added 1 more person who controlled the minions. Then you have humanized the minions and given someone for the crowd to relate to. Now you arn’t fighting in front of a mindless army of zombies, your fighting with your teammate, your ally, your friend. NOW you have made an eSport. NOW you can say there is nothing wrong with my game. Otherwise, you and your team are just playing against computers.

  23. Xexanos says:

    I think, that is just a matter of taste.
    I view minions more as a game mechanic. They are gold income (especially in early game) and might become a threat to towers mid-lategame. But it takes a concious decision of the team if you leave a tower to the minions to not lose an advantage otherwise (teamfight, dominating another lane, …).
    Also you have to push a lane, so the minions become a threat. If both teams just sit at the spawning point, nothing will happen. It is a concious decison if you push and take the risk of getting ganked form behind or just play safe.
    I can somewhat understand your point, that the AI is doing too much, but then MOBA just isn’t for you, which is not a bad thing. Everyone has a different taste (I, for example, live in germany and don’t get lots of understandings that i ignore soccer).

  24. thaniri says:

    The reason I HATE LoL is that it rewards non-action. You need to kill an enemy champion every 90 seconds (statistically impossible) to justify NOT creeping all game long. Now, if you DO get a kill, you kill the enemies gold income, but the amount of time you take to walk from one lane to another to kill a person who only needs to walk a second or two beside a tower is more risk than reward most of the time. I’m sure there are invisible intricacies to the untrained eye, and that coupled with the rewards for non-action make it ridiculously impossible to watch a game of league. Not being able to deny creeps means that towers will be eternally pushed, reducing the opportunity for ganking, meaning less action. Getting killed more often means you are less valuable, making less and LESS reward for taking action to kill you.

    I play Starcraft 2. The game is visually appealing, and from the utmost basic level, anyone can look at a Starcraft game and understand the movements and attacks. Then, on top of the extreme strategic depth (LoL has this, but it is ‘invisible’ beyond items) there is the simple spectacle of watching the pros do something with a mouse that you could never do. You understand what is happening, but you don’t have the mechanical skill to pull it off.

    Getting the clutch headshot across the map in counterstrike is the same. Call of duty auto-aims for you, counterstrike makes you aim the shot which increases mechanical aspect, and the skill of the shot goes up.

    If you like LoL, fine, but you have to realize it is actually incredibly boring to follow, and impossible to understand because of the non-action. Then in a teamfight, if the players themselves dont know what is going on, how can you call this a mental game? They are literally mashing buttons at that point.

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