Esports is slowly trying to move into models where there are more concentrated avenues to enjoy your favorite game, with the likes of Twitch, LCS and the Overwatch League condensing esports content to avoid the ever-dreaded oversaturation, but this model still incorporates several matches within said condensed leagues, and that can feel overwhelming as a viewer. People want to go to one place for their esports viewing, content, tournament structure and news. With that, comes stagnation, slow-decision making, and the privilege for monoliths to control their space without reprisal. The abundance of content for fans to consume can only benefit the consumer in the long term, but as we continue to expand, especially within League of Legends, there are key ways as a fan, to watch and consume content without feeling like you’re lost in an open-world RPG.
In the days of yesteryear, Riot were much less hands-on, allowing an open-esque tournament circuit to dictate which teams would head to Worlds. In this time period, it was substantially more difficult to keep track of which teams were playing in which tournaments, as not all teams participated in every tournament, with IPL, IEM, Dreamhack, ESL, etc. all a part of the Worlds circuit and hosted on several different Twitch and Youtube channels. Each event was also valued differently, with certain tournaments giving more circuit points than others, which detracted from fans understanding which matches were “must-wins”, and which ones were testing grounds. This led to viewer fatigue, not in the traditional sense of too many games, but basic lack of information and proper pathways to understand the mountain of context underlying the circuit format. We have now moved away from this confusing mess, into streamlined leagues, but with the sacrifice of losing tournament organizers driving competition amongst themselves. Although we have leagues for each region, there can still be audience fatigue, but that term is heavily misapplied or disingenuous at best in the kindest of perspectives.
Audience fatigue is a phenomenon where the viewers feel overwhelmed that there is too much of the viewing product to consume in a casual fashion, and in the case of esports, this would mean “too many games” are being played within a league(s). When you combine all of the major regions in LoL, that can easily be a salient fault, but it’s very clear that Riot did not intend for fans to keep up with every league. This is readily apparent by analysts from different regions stating that they struggle to understand other leagues when Worlds rolls around. It is not uncommon for broadcasters and analysts to reach out to regional experts to understand major storylines and get a better grasp on which teams are strongest heading into the largest tournament on the LoL calendar. If professional analysts have difficulty grasping the storylines and strengths of other regions, fans most certainly shouldn’t feel as though it’s their responsibility to fill those gaps themselves.
Esports viewers are unique in that the viewerbase is already hardcore. There is almost a feeling of obligation to watch all the games in a particular league to comprehensively understand the league with a full spectrum of knowledge. This may come from a lack of trust in the broadcast, which is partly warranted given the past failures from the LCS and LEC (formerly EU LCS) of not highlighting key matchups and important footnotes for fans to digest, something of which the western leagues are slowly learning, with LCK being a shining example to follow. As the broadcast teams of each league get better at hyping up landmark games, the audience can easily rely on them to dictate the pace of storylines. This is one of the best ways for a viewer to get engaged with a player or team and can drastically relieve audience fatigue without the feeling of missing out. As a fan, if you want to get invested in a league that isn’t your traditional go-to circuit, look for the promo videos and the ancillary content which will point you in the right direction.
Mo’ Content Creators, Mo’ Problems
The side content, which is often made from endemic content creators and sites is at an all-time high. There are several pieces of content from notable writers, podcasts, analysts and videos to consume, and we may very well be in the golden age of LoL content for the English speaking fan. This can seem overwhelming as a viewer, especially if you’re an LCS fan, as that has the most content of any region for the English viewer, but that’s better than the opposite circumstance of lacking content.
Consuming content should be viewed as a side quest, which in some ways I think is largely viewed this way by several, but the problem arises in that we all feel the need to 100% this video game. That’s just the nature of someone who is a hardcore gamer, which comprises almost all of the esports audience. There should be no feel/need to watch all LoL content surrounding your favorite region; why watch/read subpar content (the irony isn’t lost on me here, haha.)?
Your favorite content creators will most likely cover the broad ranging topics that were already featured in other shows or articles, and if not, you’ll likely be able to catch up on that through a content aggregator such as a news website or Reddit. Additionally, Reddit and Twitter should be viewed as ancillary content, something which adds flavor to the dish, but as long as you have most of the ingredients to the recipe, it should be a delicious feast. There are some good laughs and beefs on Twitter, but that’s a side story; it’s fine if you want to get invested in side content, but once again, if you follow your favorite content creators, it will be condensed for you, or Reddit can also do the same. The difficulty with trusting a condenser is that you may have a situation presented to you that does not contain critical facts, which is often the case with Reddit, but in a lesser form, is also the reason why it is so difficult to find a competent content creator. An easy way to determine if a content creator is doing their job correctly and with a twinge of entertainment, is if they’re popular. Popularity is a great indicator that someone is striking a chord with several different fans, and should be further investigated to see if you enjoy their style. Let the crowd be your initial funnel, because that's how it works in almost every other aspect in society.
The sign of the market being oversaturated with content, matches and leagues means that there is greater competition within the field, and that can only mean the viewers are at a greater advantage, given that all these pieces of content and entertainment must fight to win the audience’s favor. Oversaturation has classically been deemed as an unwanted thing, but that’s only from the seller’s point of view. This term comes from marketing, where a product becomes so abundant that the selling power is significantly weakened. This means that, as a seller, you need a better product than your competition; that can only be good for the consumer, IE the esports fans in this instance. Having limited content options leads to complacency within all corners of esports, and the ability to not be pressed by competitors. So be thankful for the variety of leagues, games, and content that exists, and put more trust in the condensers. The key to getting the most out of your esports experience is carefully selecting which condenser meets your needs. There is not enough time in the day to investigate all things we are interested in being informed on, so the simple shortcut is spending adequate time and research on the funnels which feed you information; choose wisely.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
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