LoL 3 Lessons Riot Could Take From The International 4

HowspiffingHowspiffing 2014-07-20 15:22:14

The biggest event in Esports history is taking place right now. The International 4, which is the Dota 2 World Championships, is well under way with 16 teams fighting to claim their share of the massive $10.5M prize pool. There seems to be a lot of animosity between the 2 fanbases of League of Legends and Dota 2, but I think there is a lot our overlords Riot can learn from Valves production of the this grand event.

The Compendium

Anyone who follows Esports in any capacity should have heard of this by now but for those who haven’t, allow me to explain. Valve released an ‘item’ that Dota 2 players could purchase, it cost $10 with the promise that $2.50 would be added on to TI4 (The International 4) prize pool, which was $1.6M before any purchases. - As you can see, whenever a target was reached, Valve promised something to be added to the game.

The Compendium is quite a controversial aspect of TI4, as the competition can now be labelled as the largest prize pool in the history of Esports. This seems to have irked quite a few fans of ‘rival’ games, with comments being thrown around on social media about how ‘LoL would have raised 5x as much if Riot had a Compendium’. Firstly, discussing that last comment is pointless, as without Riot doing so there’s no way to prove it, the important aspect is to consider if a ‘Compendium’ is an option for Riot to implement at their own world finals.

Riot already fund the competitive scene heavily, with a prize pool for every LCS split, a large World Championships prize, salary for every single player/manager, and housing or travel costs for every team. This is where the argument against a ‘compendium’ is strongest. In my opinion and the opinion of many others, the key to a stable competitive scene is just that...stability. With a guaranteed salary every week, the chances of an LCS team disbanding are slim to none.

The general feeling seems to be that a ‘Compendium’ style promotion would raise a lot of money for the League of Legends world finals, arguably matching or even beating The Internationals prize pool of $11 Million. See below for a visual explanation of what buying a compendium actually does for the players. Each of these 'goals' will be implemented, because the total reached $10 Million.

The Noob Stream

What a fantastic idea from Valve, seriously genius. Throughout The International 4 Valve have been running various different streams for different matches and languages. By far their best alternative stream is the ‘noob stream’, which features 2 casters breaking down the gameplay in the most basic way possible. For someone like myself who doesn’t watch a lot of Dota it has been extremely helpful in understanding the basics, like champion abilities, items and simple macro strategy behind the team movements.

One could argue that Dota is more complex than League of Legends, the diversity in items, intricacy of the map and the larger pool or viable champions (heroes) forces a steep learning curve onto new players, but with the noob stream, it opens up The International to an audience of casual gamers, or those new to Dota. Throughout Phase 2 of the tournament, the stream was sitting between 5-10,000 viewers during prime time.

Should League of Legends implement a ‘noob stream’? Absolutely. This is by and large the best implementation for a MOBA tournament I’ve ever seen. Granted, League of Legends is prettier to the eye than Dota is to the average newcomer, a stream dedicated to helping the casual viewer understand the gameplay would be a fantastic addition to the the World Championships in Korea later this year.


(Picture taken from

This may be the weakest of my arguments in this article, seeing as the plan Riot have for season 4 world finals looks like it will actually be pretty good. The format for both of these tournaments vary wildly. Riot with the League of Legends LCS, OGN, LPL, SEA and wildcard tournament leading to 16 teams competing in the finals. 3 from Europe, 3 from North America, 3 from Korea, 3 from China, 2 from South East Asia/Taiwan and 2 from the Wildcard. 4 group stages commence with the top 2 advancing to the quarter finals. Similar to the World Cup, with just half the teams.

The International on the other hand features 3 stages followed by the main event itself. In phase 1, the 2nd place team in each of the qualifiers battle it out for 1 final remaining spot in the tournament. Phase 2 consists of a 16 team round robin group. With the top 2 ensuring a spot in the main event, while 2nd-10th place are entered into phase 3, in which 2 brackets of 4 teams are played out. The first team of each bracket enter the main event, 2nd and 3rd enter the main event losers bracket, and the last place team heads home. The main event itself is an 8 team double elimination bracket. Simple really?

While Riot seem to have figured out copying actual sporting events can help create a simple to use, simple to understand format, fans have long complained about the lack of a losers bracket. Riot have never included a losers bracket in any of their tournaments, while many other international events do. Arguably one of the best international events in League of Legends history, IPL 5, included a losers bracket. The addition didn’t impact the tournament all too much, with the grand finals being a remake of the semi finals, but the losers bracket did allow Taipei Assassins to progress from a round 1 loss to Fnatic, all the way to a semi final rematch.

So why are Riot so against having a losers bracket? LCS and Challenger Series caster ‘Phreak’ put it plainly in a heated word exchange with Thorin from onGamers.

“Is TPA not the Season Two world champion? Did Frost not deserve second place because CLG.EU might have taken them out in the lower bracket and gotten revenge? The thing is, no one really holds a grudge there. It's a tournament and the team that performed the best won. That's the literal goal of the tournament. There's no loser's bracket in the Olympics. There's no loser's bracket in the World Cup. There's the team or athlete that played the best winning the gold medal. And everyone goes nuts.
But again, you're right that there's room for error. Maybe Frost was the better team and didn't play up to their standard on the last day. Maybe they should have, and could have, played better. But the fact of the matter is, no one's calling the Season Two World Championship illegitimate. It's fine to go into something saying, "Look, we want to find the literal best team in the world." But the reality is, no competition ever actually finds the best in the world. They actually never do that without getting lucky. Every competition always finds the best athlete/team in the world who qualified on that day. Athletes stumble in the Olympics. Professional marksmen shoot at the wrong target and lose a guaranteed gold medal. Well guess what? They didn't earn it then. That's the reality of pro sports man. It comes down to performance. And the line has to be drawn somewhere.”

His main arguments once again loop back around to wanting League of Legends Esports to be legitimate. With the concept that ‘If we make it as similar as real sports as we can, it’s better’. While Phreak does raise some very good points, especially in regards to the best team having to perform on the day, the debate for double elimination brackets will rage on.


What is this supposed to mean anyway? Your average BW ProLeague or OSL Final still dwarfs TI4 in every single aspect imaginable except for prize money. Viewership, crowds, sponsors, level of competition... There's so much more to competition than just the cash prize.

The UEFA Champions League has a larger prize pool than the FIFA World Cup, but take a wild guess which one is seen as bigger and more prestigious for every player in the world to win.
TI4 has the same 11,000 attendees LCS did and sold out in minutes.
Twitch Viewership has been competing with LCS going on right now, and then you take into account the 400k+ watching inside the client as well and it's much larger.
Dota 2 teams have just as many sponsors... have you even watched any of the teams at TI4? High profiles sponsors all over them.
Don't know what you're trying to imply about level of competition there...
Do you even know what BW is? I can only laugh at you thinking I talk about LoL when saying "OSL and ProLeague". It shows that you are just as oblivious to eSports history as the average dotard.

The level of competition in dota2 is laughably low in comparison to the Korean BW KeSPA scene, but people today really think that what they're watching are great competitors.
Bigger in a way that non-gamer people actually care about it. I have people in work talking about the international, I hear about it on the radio, that is why it is a big deal, people that do not game are going to events to view it and so on. Its starting to be on sports TV channels etc, and is massively increasing in popularity whereas starcraft will dwindle in comparison.

"The level of competition in dota2 is laughably low in comparison to the Korean BW KeSPA scene!"
How so, I'd love to see how you measured this little metric.
Easy to measure for anyone with knowledge of the scenes who is capable of comparing the infrastructures and competiton. BW infrastructure was like sports, dota2 is just a very shallow scene with much less professional players and coaches/managers/analysts because it is so top heavy. You don't need to work your way up for years and years only to earn a pro gamer license and then be allowed to be drafted into a team, then scrap the toilets of the B-Teamers of a 30 person team owned by the biggest telecom in the country before MAYBE you'll at some time you'll get good enough to play a real match.
Also saying that non-gamer people didn't care about BW shows that you don't know much about Asian gaming history. Korea and China were so mad for that game. You don't see MOBA pro gamers doing commercials on TV today, don't you?(except maybe LoL in Korea)

In Korea even your grandmother knows who Boxer is. Your argument is hilarious, though.
Nobody denies it was a big deal in Korea, that doesn't really make it a big deal worldwide. For months world media has talked about dota, it's been in the papers, the news, the radio, magazines around the world. Dota players are being interviewed on TV, appearing on sports channels, people without an ounce of knowledge of gaming are watching dota and the international. That is something that will be talked about and grow. It doesn't matter that SC was popular in korea when the world did not care about it nor was ready for it.

If you can't see why this is the biggest event ever then you are deluded. It is the superbowl of gaming.
Do you even know what BW is? I can only laugh at you thinking I talk about LoL when saying "OSL and ProLeague". It shows that you are just as oblivious to eSports history as the average dotard.

The level of competition in dota2 is laughably low in comparison to the Korean BW KeSPA scene, but people today really think that what they're watching are great competitors.

It's also funny how you compare TI4 viewership to the regular LCS season. When TI4 breaks 8 million concurrent, then we can start having a conversation about viewership. Even then, do you have any idea about the viewership numbers of a BW final in 06-07 on TV? I don't think so, but I don't even think you know which game I'm talking about anyway.

StarCraft: Brood War - google it.
Bob Ghandi
LCS and Challenger Series caster ‘Phreak’ put it plainly [...] His main arguments once again loop back around to wanting League of Legends Esports to be legitimate. With the concept that ‘If we make it as similar as real sports as we can, it’s better’.

That's not what his point is at all. He's comparing the League World Championships to real sports because, as he says, real sports don't have a loser's brackets and people don't call real sports illegitimate, so why should the World Championships be? Not the other way around.
You forgot that 3 teams also come from Korea.
Not to take away from what I believe is a positive option with the new player stream, but if Riot did include this I hope that they don't insult all of the newcomer's by calling it a 'Noob' stream. You automatically insult people with that reference and if anyone finds out you watched (and learned) from it, you will automatically be ostracized from the DOTA2 community.

I know that this isn't the best example but I feel I have to bring it up since it ties into streams and community. The Twitch Chat for TI4 has been the very worst thing I have seen in all of e-sports. Every time I dared to open it up all I saw were pictures of Hitler and penises. If someone actually typed out a comment it was filled with either racism, sexism, or any other kind of hate. There was ZERO moderation in that channel whatsoever and Valve should be ashamed.

Also, don't give me that lame old excuse, "There are 100k+ people in there, no one can mod that." LCS streams are able to do this every week and while there is a lot of idiocy there, they keep all the other horrible parts of the TI4 stream moderated. It's not hard to have a bot that gets rid of those images and if the people in chat knew that it won't be tolerated it would calm down a lot. However, this kind of behavior is common place in any DOTA2 stream. Just go look at a Beyond The Summit stream some time and you will know what I mean.

You are not ostracized for being a noob in the Dota 2 community. People will gladly help you when you post on the subReddit. Noob isn't an insult in the Dota 2 community, it's just a casual word to describe someone new. "Scrub" is the more popular insult these days that actually holds weight, or the variety of vulgar insults people sometimes throw at you in any online game for being new/bad. (Though Valve has managed to create a good system for keeping bad behaving people with other bad behaving people.)
People love the noob stream, the name is not cared about whatsoever.
Lesson #1, make a game that isn't for filthy casuals.
"Granted, League of Legends is prettier to the eye than Dota"

Rofl? What are you even talking about?..

1rst dota2 screenshot from google:

1rst lol screenshot from google:
Biggest ever?

Staples Center is a bigger arena than the KeyArena, LoL had 8.5 million concurrent viewers, the numbers I've seen for TI4 indicate some where in the ballpark of 4 million viewers concurrent? Sure the prize pool is way bigger than anything before it but what kind of metric is that to say its the biggest ever?

That said I most definitely agree with your arguments and I truly hope for double elim and someway for us to buff the prize pool!
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