It’s been a busy weekend in the professional League of Legends scene. We had big games going down at MLG Dallas as well as a game-changing announcement about Season 3 from Riot Games. We’re going to filter everything down to the essentials here for everyone trying to play catch up.
The tourney hammer has fallen once again on professional League of Legends teams from North America. If the writing was on the wall after NA’s clobbering at the League of Legends World Championship Finals last month, now there is blood on the tracks. MLG Dallas was more of an elaborate advertisement for Asian dominance of LoLeSports than it was a proper tournament.
In the first round alone 3/5 NA teams were relegated to the losers bracket. The only two survivors (Team SoloMid and Team Dignitas) both dropped the following day after going 0-2 to the Korean competition of NaJiN Sword and Azubu Blaze. To be fair, Team Dignitas put up an incredible fight against Azubu Blaze, and can walk away from MLG Dallas with their heads held high. Despite the loss they restored the faith of many a Dig fan in those two rounds.
The Korean wave drowned out the non-NA competition as well, with Azubu blaze sweeping a 2-0 victory over CLG.eu to secure a place in the final against NaJin Sword. The final rounds were incredibly close, with Azubu Blaze requiring a victory in two separate best-of-three matchups to seal their victory, while NaJiN Sword only required a single best-of-three win to be champions. Despite Maknoon’s best efforts, NaJiN Sword could only find victory in the first round, giving Azubu Blaze two victories and setting up a final best-of-three thriller.
With everything on the line, Azubu Blaze marshaled two tremendous performances, smothering the hopes of NaJiN Sword with repeated ganks and turret dives. The power of Azubu Blaze’s coordination was on full display, with Helios’ jungle Noctourne finding chink after chink in NaJiN’s armor. He was all over the map, controlling objectives, securing kills, and terrorizing the entire NaJiN Sword lineup. It was a fantastic end to a tournament that was, in many ways, overshadowed by the hangover of Season Two’s World Championship glory. Regardless, congratulations to the fully-deserving champions, Azubu Blaze!
Season 3 Championship Series
Beyond MLG Dallas, Riot shocked quite a few League of Legends players with their most recent announcement regarding Season 3. Fans have been wondering for months what teams would be in the elite 8-per-region roster. Three NA and EU teams (TSM, Dignitas, and CLG.na for NA and M5.BENQ, SK Gaming, and CLG.eu for EU) have already made the cut via their performances at the regional playoffs. The other five spots for each region have been a massive question mark. Well, question no longer.
Riot will be picking the top 32 teams from the Ranked 5v5 Team ladder to compete in an exclusive qualification tournament January 4-6, 2013. The top 6 teams from that qualification round will then be invited to an all-expenses paid event to compete against top teams from their region that did not qualify during the regional playoffs, plus new Challenger Circuit teams. The top 5 teams that emerge from this maelstrom of tournaments and qualifiers will officially be a part of the League of Legends Season 3 Championship Series! The madness begins on November 6th, 2012, when Riot soft resets the Elo ladder.
While it sounds a little crazy, this is probably one of the biggest ways for Riot to boost community interest in League of Legends as an eSport. Being able to qualify directly via performances in the ranked ladder eliminates the requirement of a corporation or business sponsoring your team on the pro circuit. Suddenly going pro could be as easy (and I use easy very relatively here) as finding 4 other like-minded individuals, practicing like crazy, and dominating the ranked ladder for your region. For full details, check out the official Riot Announcement here.
Let’s break it down step-by-step, because it is a little crazy:
Come tomorrow, 5v5s are about to get real.