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

 

Why Gamers Should Read Black Authors


by | Sep 24, 2020, 7:30AM PDT

Years from now when people ask “where were you in 2020?” I will respond, “online, and I hated every second of it.”

2020 was a year filled with strife and changes, as many of the country’s issues were placed under the microscope of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were made privy to the fragility of our healthcare system, made to grapple with the mistreatment of our workers, and we saw just how little our government was ready to deal with the unseen threat of a virus. As buildings and campuses became unsafe for congregations, schools and businesses quickly transitioned from physical interaction to remote operations, trading desks for couches, and cubicles for bedrooms. As an academic I soon saw myself writing grants, hosting calls, and meeting with colleagues all through the screen of my computer. Just like that my and many other lives became mediated through digital platforms.

But then came May and the US caught fire as major cities around America erupted in protest after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the neck of George Perry Floyd Jr. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing him on camera. The act was such a clear show of police misconduct and brutality that not only did protest emerge in Minneapolis but in cities like Los Angeles and New York. People across America took to the streets to protest what was a vile and malicious act of policing and unfortunately (and ironically) were subsequently met with the very force they went out there to speak against. Agitations flared, peaceful protest turned into physical confrontation, and long-ignored anger and sorrow became the fuel for the flames which burned signs, buildings, and coincidentally an NYPD van.

Yet, still, for many, the most heated moments of the protest were not experienced in person but rather were witnessed second hand through their television or through social media online. As the protest raged on, Twitter threads became battlegrounds, YouTube videos spun narratives, and the internet yet again became the hotbed for information and dialogue around the events many were experiencing. With #BlackLivesMatter trending yet again in response to the death of ANOTHER Black person at the hands of the police, the online blurred yet again with the physical. So much so, that social media became the key place where I, a Black man, kept up with the news, contacted friends and family who were near protest areas, and was made to relive the trauma of watching Floyd lose his life again and again as it was shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter both as both a form of awareness and as jokes from those craven enough to mock a man posthumously. And, while I donated to BLM initiatives, honked my horn in-vehicle protest, and showed up physically where I could, I—like so many—experienced the brunt of this protest online.

So, it should not come as a surprise when I say that it was not in person or even on Twitter where I got into my harshest debates, but instead, it was within video games like Overwatch and League of Legends where I found the most abuse. In fact, it was gaming spaces like these that became the hardest to occupy during the time of the protest. In an attempt to find some semblance of peace while the world burned, I decided to turn on Overwatch (a hero first-person shooter from the company Blizzard) to try to take the edge off. After some time, I was eventually placed with 11 other players and dropped into a starting zone to wait. However, instead of the typical banter of roles and positions, I was met with a “hello my fellow African Americans, let’s go burn and loot some stores because BLACK LIVES MATTER!” from one of my teammates. Reminded that video games seldom work as escapism for black people, I contemplated whether to let the comment go or to make a scene. I chose the latter.

I responded with “do you think that’s funny?” which prompted him to say “of course! Because they should not be out there at all, because ALL LIVES MATTER!” and quickly an argument ensued. Shouting in a way I am not all too proud of, I went back and forth with the player, I shouted the names of those killed—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin—only to have him respond with conspiracies like the FBI started BLM and comments like “slavery didn’t matter.” It didn’t take long for our remaining teammates to mute us with one going as far as to exclaim, “I don’t play this for politics.” In hindsight I think I would have been better off ignoring the troll—I must admit I was perturbed, livid in fact. Livid that a player used the game as his platform for racism and livid at the apathy of the other players viewing the deaths of Black men and women as simple politics. While the game’s very company (Blizzard) was tweeting in support of Black Lives, its players continued to disparage them. With each engagement I grew colder and angrier, each bout of racism striking deeper than the last until eventually, I arrived at simply telling people to shut the… well you can finish the rest.

Unfortunately, what I experienced is nothing new, as scholars such as Kishonna Gray, Andre Brock, Anna Everett, Samantha Blackmon, TreaAndrea Russworm, and many others have written extensively on the experiences of Black players similar to my own. However, as more and more games become spaces for online interaction, I and many others are yet again forced to acknowledge that games and the many who play them are not always aware of the struggles non-white gamers may go through. But, in writing this piece and sharing my experience I do not want this to come off as an accusation of gamers and gaming practices (there are other avenues for such), but instead as an opportunity to engage with perspectives that have been ignored or overlooked.

As many of us face yet another crisis in our communities, where Black life is threatened for simply existing (under the blanket of COVID no less), it is important to remember that games, as peripheral as they may seem, work as powerful sites of cultural creation and expression. I could not escape my pain through games because the same rhetoric, behavior, and trauma that took place in the physical informed and shaped the virtual. That is why this piece is less of an accusation and simply a call to action.

In a time where Black players face constant racial abuse both inside and outside of games, I propose that gamers engage with the history of this country and the writings of Black scholars, activists, and people. In wanting to see a healthier gaming community, I have curated a list of books, short readings, and articles to read in hopes that gamers and the gaming community at large will pick up the call and accept this challenge. While by no means extensive, the list provided will offer introductory reading to familiarize oneself with Black history in the US and the Black experience in areas such as school, healthcare, and most apropos, online spaces. While seemingly unrelated, there is much to be gained by engaging with past and current writers, and only when we have an informed gaming population can we hope to see change.


Akil Fletcher grew up in New York where he received a B.A in Anthropology from the City College of New York. Currently, he is a Ph.D student in the anthropology department at the University of California Irvine, where he researches the navigation of Black video game players online. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Akil researches how Black players form and manage communities in spaces that are often hostile to Black participants.

If you would like to join in on discussing any of the readings from Akil Fletcher’s list, you are welcome to the UCI Esports Discord server‘s #book-club channel.