The League of Legends summer season is underway and I couldn’t be more excited. Lots of cool storylines to watch from TSM’s attempt to rally from their worst playoff finish in history, Team Liquid defending it’s the first title in franchise history, Cloud 9 subbing out 60% of their starting roster between spring and summer, and to top it all off Riot introduced a new patch (version of the game) the totally upended how one can approach the game forcing every team to reassess their own strategies. These would all be interesting things to write about but before I can even get to that we have to talk about the really big story from week 1 of the NALCS. Echo Fox was awarded a win over Clutch Gaming by referee decision (yes League of Legends has referees, they don’t like stop the game for penalties or fouls though) rather than actually winning the game. Part of me is hoping that by going through what happened in a post I can kind of figure out how exactly I feel about it all.
This is a bit weird so let me explain. The game starts and Echo Fox and Clutch go back and forth in the early game, but by the mid-game Echo Fox is taking a lead and had taken 3 dragons. (Extra objective in the game which gives bonus stats) Then at around the 27-minute mark Echo Fox take the Baron (a Big objective that gives a lot of gold and helps teams push into enemy territory more easily) and win a team fight convincingly. From there they take another dragon and push down several turrets and break open Clutch’s base. I think it’s pretty important to note that their gold lead at this point was over 10,000, that’s a big number in League of Legends because it’s commonly believed that a 10,000 gold deficit is nigh impossible to come back from. It’s sort of a benchmark for blowouts. So Echo Fox is in total control of the game, they have a huge lead and have already cracked the main defence of Clutch.
Then something happens. A bug. Some weird interaction the game is prepared to handle or who knows what, but all 10 players and the observers and anyone else become disconnected from the game. Single players disconnecting from the game isn’t that uncommon and when they do the someone else can pause the game until they reconnect, but everyone being disconnected removes that possibility. This is so rare that it’s actually never happened in the NALCS before in 5 years of the league’s operation. With no one able to pause the game things just kinda played out without player interference while the refs try to reconnect people to the game with no success for thirty or so minutes. This would be akin to like if the lights went out in a basketball game but for some strange and inexplicable reason, the clock kept. Absolutely bizarre. So the refs left with two choices. Remake the game or give Echo Fox the win.
Both of these rulings have a basis in the LCS rulebook, (yeah they’ve got a rulebook, what do ya think they’re amateurs?) but both of these are also lose-lose scenarios. If they remake and Echo Fox loses people will complain that bad code robbed their team of a rightly deserved victory if they remake and Echo Fox win they’ve basically wasted a huge chunk of time in an already long broadcast day, (From a PR perspective this is probably the optimum outcome) and if they simply give the win to Echo Fox people will argue all week about whether or not the game was still “winnable” or not for Clutch all the while blaming the refs and making fun of the competative integrity of the league. In the end, they decide that awarding Echo Fox the win is the way to go.
Honestly, I have a pretty mixed opinion about that. I really thought this would help me reach a concrete feeling on what happened, but it’s just a really rough situation. On one hand, I really don’t think there was any way that Clutch could’ve won that game. Like they were really, really far behind at that point. To make a traditional sports and heck the World Cup is going on let’s use a soccer reference. Imagine that a team is up 7-0 against another team with 5 minutes left to play plus whatever extra time they’ll be. Sure technically it’s possible that the losing team could pull off a miracle and still win that game, but no one in their right mind would believe that it would actually happen right?
On the other hand, it leaves a really bad taste in my mouth to think about a team being given a win by the refs and not by actually beating their opponents. It just doesn’t seem to jive with me as a competitive person. I suppose it doesn’t really matter now though, the decision has been made and the only thing to do is move forward, oh also make endless fun of Riot Games for having a game where their spaghetti code can still fly so off the handle that professional games can be ruined by it. I’m definitely going to do that. Anyways, NALCS is pretty cool and you should like check it out if that’s your kind of thing. Later.