LoL Worlds 2018 Viewing Party at UCI


by | Nov 10, 2018, 3:00PM PDT

As another exciting season of League of Legends finally came to a close, the event that players, fans, and spectators look forward to every year was also approaching: World Championship Finals. The top teams from regions around the world would once again fight for a chance to hoist up the Summoner’s Cup in a display of ultimate victory. This year, the final battle for the Cup was a showdown between European team Fnatic (FNC) and Chinese team Invictus Gaming (IG).

For five seasons straight, Korean teams SK Telecom T1 and Samsung White have dominated the international competitive scene, taking the Cup Worlds after Worlds. However, on November 3rd, 2018, a new victor of the League of Legends Championship Series was crowned: Invictus Gaming! For the first time in League of Legend’s history, a Chinese team won the Summoner’s Cup, nonetheless with a clean sweep 3-0 against worldwide fan-favorite team FNC. While IG isn’t new to the competitive League scene, they were inarguably the underdogs amongst their competitors, many of whom were considered giants in the LCS. In their seven years as a team, IG either had not made it to Worlds or failed entirely to make it past the first round. This year, however, they were able to turn it around,  paving their way straight to the Summoner’s Cup, a legendary victory indeed for the Chinese league.

Here at UC Irvine, The Association of Gamers (TAG) hosted a Worlds Viewing Party for fans to come together to witness live which team would emerge victorious. The event began around midnight Friday and was expected to last until the early morning the next day. Even in the late hours in the midst of the closing midterm season, TAG was intent on making it happen, and fans showed their dedication by attending regardless of the potential allnighter.

Legendary pro player Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and famous League Challenger-tier YouTuber Matthew “Pants are Dragon” Nguyen made an unexpected appearance at the Viewing Party during the opening ceremony, stunning fans and the board alike. They were kind enough to take the time to talk to fans with plenty of pictures to go around. As the games began, they took a seat among the crowd and watched along the whole night through.

The LCS opening ceremony was unanimously a highlight of the night with its hype lineup. POP/STARS by K/DA, a song crafted around Riot Games’ new K-pop inspired skin set, captured the hearts of many fans. The song featured an animated music video, with the K-pop style shining through its presentation. Beyond that, Riot stunned spectators further by extending the scenes from the music video to the live stage, animating the champions to perform along their singers, (G)I-DLE, Madison Beer, and Jaira Burns.

The next song to follow was a special one. Every year, Riot commissions a song specially made for Worlds from professional music artists; groups featured at past ceremonies include Imagine Dragons and Zedd. During the opening ceremony, a montage was shown of past World Championship Finals leading up to the present, a fitting transition in introduction to this years designated World’s song: Rise, featuring beloved artists The Glitch Mob, Mako, The Word Alive, and Bobby of iKON. The new hit has made trending charts all over the globe, and the live reception did not disappoint.

While watching the games unfold, viewers were encouraged to follow along with Taunt, an app that allows spectators to play a competitive game of predictions during LCS matches. Taunt worked in real-time during the match, keeping its players on the edge of their seat as they competed with each other for who could call the match the best. Will Rookie get first blood on Caps? Where will Ning gank next? Viewers anxiously waited for their predictions to come to life, and cheers erupted as plays were called. The use of Taunt as an additional layer of viewer engagement brought more excitement to the Viewing Party by giving them a platform to test their ability to call the match. Furthermore, those with the highest points at the end even won prizes!

TAG held raffles and distributed free merch all throughout the night. From freebies at the entrance, to brand new HyperX peripherals, limited edition Pulsefire Twisted Fate skins, a big poro plush, and vinyl figurines, the prizes were all valuable and the possibility of winning one was exciting. Even though they gave away a lot at this event, TAG will surely have have much more in store for future events as well. Consider coming to upcoming TAG events to snatch some prizes for yourself while supporting the gaming community here at UC Irvine!

 

Article by Gianeen Almaria

Editing by Nathan Dhami

Photography by Alice Lee

 

Esports Lab Spotlight: Craig G. Anderson


by | May 1, 2019, 11:00AM PDT

This is part 2 of a mini-series on the UCI Esports Lab and their research topics.

This article features Craig G. Anderson, a doctoral candidate at the Esports Lab. His research topics focus on the cognitive influences of games, including the roles of failure and persistence in gaming. More information, including contact information, can be found at https://www.uciesportslab.org/.

What led you to become involved in esports research? What is your educational background?

I’ve been working with Profs. Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire for about five years;  we started in Madison, Wisconsin where we were initially researching educational games. It wasn’t until we moved to Irvine when our research started to change gears toward esports. I still study single player commercial games, but I can now start looking at the area of multiplayer competitive environments as well.

What questions are you looking to answer through your research?

My masters work was on “what makes video games engaging.” To that end, I made a low-fidelity version of Peggle and had people play it to find out if they still enjoyed playing and if they learned the core skills about the game (they only played half as much, and reported less engagement). There’s something about having success just out of reach that keeps players coming.  I then started to think about how failure is so common in games, and how games construct failure as something expected. I’m interested in looking at games like Dark Souls and Cuphead, notoriously difficult games that have a huge fanbase. Do playing these types change the way we think about failure, both in and outside of the game as well?

Today, my research focuses on how players react to failure in games. I come from a psychology background, so I’m interested in how video games make people think, and especially how they frame failure in comparison to other environments. One reason why esports is so interesting is because there are teammates that are relying on you to succeed with them as well — any failure can affect the whole team. Another interesting aspect as well is the spectators; do players react to failure differently when people are watching? If so, how?  

I am currently looking to watch testers play Cuphead and try to map the places where players are most likely to fail. I’m particularly interested in seeing if they persist, and also the reorientation strategies they use. What’s difficult about this is that the methodology hasn’t been done before. Researchers usually just survey their testers about their experiences, but I plan to actually observe the testers play the game. How long do players persist through failure? How many times do they fail, and how do they react to those failures? How many times do they try before they give up?

Who do you work with on a regular basis at the lab?

The lab was designed on purpose to encourage open, constant collaboration. Everyone talks across the table and gets the chance to collaborate with others on topics they find interesting. There are all kinds of people that work in the lab, from professors to graduate students, and even undergraduate and high school interns.

Outside the lab, our biggest project is NASEF, the high school esports league that also facilitates academic research. We work with the high school players to get gameplay footage that we might be able to refer to in our research, such as League of Legends mid lane players.

What is one of the most important things you’ve done in your time researching esports?

I am the co-chair for UCI’s Esports Conference (ESC). It was a huge amount of work, especially since ESC 2018 was the first-ever instance of it. The team spent a whole year planning the whole event, but it paid off! I’m happy that many people enjoyed it and want to go again next year, so even now we’re working on ESC 2019.

Where do you see esports (and/or research in the area) in five years?

As esports becomes more mainstream, I see it growing in popularity until it is on par with regular, traditional sports. Similarly, esports research will continue to grow, especially at UCI where the Informatics department and games studies is growing. I want to see UCI become the premier game studies university. Before Profs. Steinkuehler and Squire came, there were only three or four professors in the department studying anything games-related. Now that there are a lot of big names doing research here, the school is now attracting more and more games scholars.