With the League of Legends World Championship officially over, the sun is setting on the 2017 LoL competitive scene. But before we can sit back, relax and look forward to the start of the 2018 season, the All Star Event (ASE) looks to wrap up the year by bringing together superstar players and pitting them against each other in a dream team extravaganza. However, even though the event was never intended to have the magnitude and scale of other international tournaments, the ASE 2017 seems to take a step back in all regards when comparing it to last year’s competition.
First up, considerable changes were announced regarding the tournament’s format and the type of games that will be played. The distinctive “fun” game modes have been replaced by standard 5v5s with the hopes of making the tournament more competitive. The All Star teams will be split into two groups and clash in a single Round Robin spanning over two days. The four with the best results will advance to the Bo3 semifinals and the winners of those to the Bo5 finals. The 1v1 competition will remain largely unchanged.
The removal of the fun game modes marks an odd shift of focus, as these were a highlight of the tournament and they stayed true to the casual and more relaxed nature of the event. In addition to that, they were a delight to watch as a fan and pro players really seemed to enjoy them. With them gone, there’s less things that make the ASE stand out from other international events.
Efforts were made throughout the year to include Wildcard regions (now referred to as emerging regions) at international competitions without the need for an external tournament. This led to the creation of the Play-Ins and has now affected the ASE 2017. In summary, the International Wildcard All Star Event was effectively scrapped and due to this the teams participating in the ASE 2017 were altered.
With the exception of Brazil, Turkey and South East Asia, emerging regions have been removed as a whole from the event. Whether this is good or bad depends on which team you support. Yet, outright denying most emerging regions from even having a chance to qualify to the event is a low blow to their fans and their players. This also further decreases the importance of voting for fans outside of the participating regions.
The prize pool
After it was replaced by the Mid-Season Invitational in 2015, the ASE was meant to put fun and regional pride over big cash outs. Nevertheless, the aforementioned shift to make it a more competitive event doesn’t include the addition of a prize pool or any other incentive of that sort. Pros are compensated for their attendance with the opportunity to gain exposure and grow their personal brand, neither of which pay the bills.
The event will take place in the NA LCS Studio in Los Angeles, California. While I couldn’t find confirmation on the exact capacity of the venue, I would be surprised if it was fit for more than a 1000 people. The last time All Stars was held in the NA LCS Studio was back in 2015, which, in a way, was the event’s first year of existence. The year after that, All Stars took place in Barcelona, inside the Palau Sant Jordi. This arena has a capacity of 17,000, leaving the NA LCS Studio dwarfed in that metric.
The decision to once again hold the ASE in the NA LCS Studio not only affects the fans attending in person, as acquiring tickets will be harder, but also the ones watching online, since a smaller crowd means less hype. Moreover, games will be split over the Battle Arena and the Battle Theater, and fans cannot switch areas in between games. I’m certain the LOL ESPORTS production team will do a fantastic job running the ASE, but the limited amount of space available to them makes me skeptical of just how good this event will be.
As I stated previously, the smaller venue size can cause problems for fans who want to attend the competition in person. Tickets sales went live friday morning and were sold out almost instantly. Furthermore, tickets were split over multiple days. This caused ticket prices to go up, as partaking in the entirety of the event meant spending around $120 USD (4 $30 USD tickets). One would think that because the ASE 2017 is taking place in a Riot owned venue, tickets would have more accessible prices, but that’s simply not the case.
By no means will the All Stars 2017 be a bad event. Dream Teams make great narratives and the regional pride aspect adds a unique charm to the tournament, even though Rift Rivals aims to do something very similar. It’s a great opportunity for up and coming star players to develop their personal brand and grow their fan base. Additionally, Riot’s production crew and on air team is top notch, making the best out of a dubious situation.
But with the fun game modes gone, best of 3 semifinals, the exclusion of most of the emerging regions, the small venue, the complicated ticket system and still no prize pool of any sort, the event at best is taking a step back from what we saw last year with little to no innovation to make up for it. Taking a more competitive approach without making proper adjustments feels unjustified and the event itself feels somewhat forced. Hopefully, Riot will take this feedback for next year’s All Star Event and improve on an already spectacular competition instead of taking a step back.