WHY THE CHALLENGER SCENE IS LAUGHABLE
I've always had my concerns with the challenger scene and Coke Series in general. I've sorta voiced my concerns before, but I think now is a better time to express them than ever.
The challenger scene is something you'd think would be hyped up, and it's something you think would have exposure. You'll get to learn about the teams competing in the Round of 8 (hell, even RO20) and even get some back-stories on the players! Where they're from, why they're attempting to make it into LCS, what their risks are and so forth. General information about them and digging a little deeper to see if they've had any past failures, but are still striving and going forward despite not making it far enough?
You get none of this in the challenger scene. There are ZERO back-stories or interviews with players, managers etc. The most you'll ever get as far as interviews or knowing anything about a player is through Leaguepedia. Or, wait for it... if you're already a known player in the scene, you get MORE exposure! Naming players from the Top 6 teams that just played like Saintvicious, DontMashMe, Goldenglue, frommaplestreet, and Sheep. All 5 of these players have already had insane amounts of exposure, either through being in the LCS or being interviewed by Travis etc. I mean, I don't mind knowing more about them or being updated on what's happening in their careers, but what about the other players on their team?
Lets look at Team 8 for example. They have INSANE talent on their roster.
For starters, let's look at CaliTrlolz. Dude is a MONSTER in the top lane. He has unorthodox picks in team play that you NEVER see anymore (Fizz, Malphite, Akali, Kha'Zix for starters) and just absolutely demolishes his opponent. Not only does he play unorthodox picks, he plays the meta just as well. He has raw mechanical talent and he's also the shot caller for the team. As we saw last weekend for the Challenger Playoffs, he's just insanely talented. Sadly, the last that was said is that he's undecided on rather or not he's going to be leaving his team (rather they make it into the LCS or not) for Pharmacy school instead.
But do we hear about any of this? Nope.
Besides the people in top challenger, no one knew of CaliTrlolz or how good he was. I bet you everyone knew frommaplestreet was on his team though, right? Oh, did you also know he's TheOddOne's brother?!? I bet you also didn't know Kerp uses a trackball.
How about Crs Impactful? He's been in the scene since the very beginning of the LCS Spring Qualifiers. I'm sure some of you will remember team The Salad Bar, which Impactful played AD for. They ended up going 0-2 in their group alongside teams Azure Gaming, Cloud 9, and Team MRN, in which Team MRN eventually went on to win the group and qualify for the LCS. After a break of playing competitively, Impactful created a team named Dadslammers (Eventually Skyline, who was picked up by Complexity) trying to re-qualify for the LCS. The roster was made up of Evaniskus, Nk Inc, Goldenglue, Jezie, and Impactful. They ended up in the LCS Summer Promotion Play Offs, but ended up losing to their sister team Complexity.Black, who then went on to 3-1 Coast for a spot in the LCS.
Despite failing twice to make it into the LCS, he still has the drive and motivation to continue playing. He got a chance to tryout for Curse Academy, who was then trying out Chaox. He ended up making the team, who just placed 2nd place at playoffs and is now playing in relegations this weekend at PAX for a spot in the LCS. But do we hear ANYTHING about Crs Impactful? Fuck no! We get to hear about Saintvicious though.
In the LCS, we get all of these hype videos. We get to learn more about each player, interviews with players after each game, learn about their lives and what they're risking by being in the LCS. Text-based interviews etc.
This is a big part of why no one gives a fuck about the challenger scene, including Riot. There is NO exposure of the challenger scene and it's players what-so-ever and their talent goes unnoticed by many.
There are little to no tournaments besides Coke Series for the challenger scene. There is/was North American Challenger League (NACL) and Black Monster Cup (BMC) but these were essentially the only tournaments in the scene.
If Riot had tournaments hosted throughout the season (don't have to be big tournaments, but SOMETHING to keep players interested and wanting to play in) it would help most players, because if you don't make the Coke Series, there's nothing to play for afterwards, meaning a bunch of teams break up due to the lack of incentive to play. This is a HUGE problem and it's why we see so many teams break up after losing in the Coke Series. This might sound a little spoiled, but it's the truth and it's a huge gamble for these younger players.
With the exception of Team 8. The first split they had awful luck when RichERich (RichEDitch hue) left the team, meaning they could not sub another player in (another shitty part of the rules) and had to forfeit their match for the Summer Promotion Qualifier. Although, if they did end up in the RO20 for the first play-in, they would've been against LMQ. They stuck together despite forfeiting and ended up in the RO8 playing against LMQ (shit luck, eh?) in the second play-in, going 1-2. Despite them not having enough points because of the first play-in, their chances of getting into playoffs were finished. Despite the terrible shit that's happened to them and the terrible luck, they stuck together as a team. Team 8 is now Team $1st, beating out Crs Academy 3-1 at the challenger play offs.
Imagine if we had more incentive and less of a gamble for teams to become something like Team 8?
Which leads into the terrible, terrible format of getting into the top 20 play-ins.
Congratulations, top 20 of Ranked 5's. You've made it into the play-ins after playing Ranked 5's, in which climbing the ladder for Ranked 5s takes little skill and is nothing but a grind. It's like leveling to 90 in WoW. Grind, grind, grind, grin- ResidentSleeper.
Don't forget the 20 minute queue timers for each game, in which you'll end up playing Gold-Plat level players and end up getting 8 points for your win. It's nothing but time consuming and it has absolutely no pay-off but getting into RO20.. where, wait for it...
You play a BO1 to decide your future in which you just spent countless days grinding pointless ranked 5s to get into. BO1 is the worst format. For anything. Ever. Want to know why BO1 aren't useful? Here's one simple answer: cheese. no counter-play.
In a BO3, you get a chance to see what you did wrong in Game 1. You get to look at your picks, your bans, see what went wrong in game etc. That way, you prepare for Game 2/3 and see what you need to fix. You can't do that in a BO1. You fuck up your pick/ban phase? You fuck up that level 1 fight? Sucks for you! And it's not like Riot doesn't have the time to host BO3s. I mean hell, no one watches anyway right? Have the first set of play ins played off-line by all 5 groups, and have the RO10 be streamed on a day that isn't hosted via LCS. You then get into RO8, where quarter finals should be BO3 and semis + finals should be BO5. I just want to know why Riot thinks BO1 is the best format? I haven't seen one answer given.
Oh, did I mention we ended up getting our Tournament Realm clients + accounts THE DAY BEFORE OUR MATCHES? The Tournament Realm is a separate client that allows you to play on previous patches, has all of the content unlocked, and is what all of the LCS players use to play on since LCS usually isn't up to date with the live patch.
Meaning we had no time to practice on the patch we were playing on. Except for the fact that players who were in the previous Coke Series Playoffs had accounts already, meaning they could practice on it vs other teams yet the newly qualified teams only had our accounts the day before. Great work.
Those are my thoughts. I'm sure I missed a couple things but that's mostly it. I just want to hear something from Riot explaining why the challenger scene exposure has been completely fucked by them.
tl;dr More exposure, more in-depth player analysis and back-stories, more money, better format, better communication.