While the LCS is already enjoyable for fans and players of League of Legends, egregious errors exist in Riot’s broadcasting that can’t be ignored despite its infancy. In other words, nascence is never an excuse for complacency. These errors are increasingly noticeable because of the contrast between established sports broadcasting techniques and those employed by Riot and the LCS production crew. To make an analogy to League, think of the meta of the pro scene. The Korean meta is on a higher level, in terms of their depth of understanding and advancement of knowledge compared to the rest of the world. Therefore, Riot should implement a few simple changes that would drastically decrease the gap in presentation quality between the LCS and traditional, successful sports broadcasting.
Caster posture and demeanor
It’s clear that the casters are in tight spaces, sitting on small chairs, and crammed into small desks for the sake of space and convenience. Due to not having an established venue, these problems will continue. In spite of that, casters slump and slouch on camera while discussing the previous games and delegitimize the broadcast. Riot needs to exhibit a product that features knowledgeable articulate professionals taking their job in broadcast media seriously. Sit tall, shoulders back, strong but not rigid.
Casting and Analysis should be separate jobs
These are two separate jobs that should be delegated as such, so that each job may be done to its fullest. A good example of this is what Valve did at The International 3. To come up with an accurate and insightful post-game discussion, you can’t be shoutcasting the game for 40 minutes beforehand. Specialization of labor will provide better quality casts and analyses for the viewer. In the most recent Summer Playoffs, casters were swapping roles between sets instead of having dedicated teams. Also, allowing the analysis team to stay together through the course of a tournament benefits the product directly since personality and rapport are more important for the post-game team.
More shots of players actually playing
During downtime of traditional sports, they take time to show player emotion, sideline, coaches, etc. Viewers don’t need to be watching Summoner’s Rift the entire broadcast. How many times have you wanted to see a jungler’s face after a smite steal? There is no rule that only the game cam needs to be shown - viewers will understand that the game has progressed since the last cut, just like when they don’t show the referees and linemen getting ready for a play in football.
Statistics should always be available for the audience to gain deeper insight into the game. When the statistic shown is simply one player’s GPM, it doesn’t help the audience as much contextualizing the stats with time and the difference between the teams. Riot should take inspiration from the gold and XP graphs in Dota2, following their format would improve the knowledge imparted to the audience.
If the players must be separated from the crowd for competitive reasons related to sound, then they should be inside soundproof booths as opposed to bulky headphones. Booths are preferable to headsets because they provide far more utility in terms of placing cameras that can see multiple players’ expressions and controlling the space. Another positive is that it allows the players to wear headgear they both feel comfortable with and can use to show off sponsors if they choose. More emotion = better footage.
2. Aesthetics of Presentation
Suiting up is a really easy method by which you can improve your authority and professionalism, silly and simple as it may seem. Suit jackets should hug the shoulders with slim padding, not sag off of them. Less fabric in the sleeves creates a slimmer profile and more prominently displays the chest, tie, and collar. Color saturation affects the other colors surrounding you passively, and changing the caster’s color palates and schemes will help immensely. Very saturated reds, pinks, and teals (We’re looking at you, Phreak) look very overbearing in contrast to the darker suits and backgrounds. Additionally, casters should NOT be trading shirts during the span of the broadcast. A friend of ours who is uninitiated into League actually came over while we were writing and asked, “Is that guy wearing a black shirt with a black jacket? On a black background?”
Thin bold ties with a matched color scheme will greatly improve professionalism and allow people who are unused to the eSports scene to transition more smoothly due to visual familiarity. /r/malefashionadvice has great resources on fits and more appropriate color tones.
Casting desk and monitor situation
It is necessary to have monitors that the casters can use easily and effectively, but an elevated desk front makes the shot look cramped, and the jumble of monitors distort the bottom half of the frame. Monitors that are recessed into the desk, under a reflective glass desktop, able to elevate in and out of the desk, or even chairs that can be raised for camera interaction and lowered in game would work. There are specific reasons that lower desks and smooth clean lines are more attractive to people sitting down - your back appears straighter thus making you look taller, and focus is on the person and not the surroundings. Ultimately, lines need to be uniform and clean across the screen.
Post-game analysis differs from casting in that the panel is speaking to each other rather than directly to the audience, so the construction of the space must be more open to bring in the audience and make them feel like a part of the discussion. Analysts’ shoulders need to be facing the camera alongside a set design that allows them effectively communicate between themselves and with the viewer. How many times have you thought the interview couch looked incredibly awkward? Whether using a desk or a more lounge-esque setup, similar design principles apply to both.
Headsets for casters
This is a bit of a speculation, but better headsets must exist than the current ones Riot uses. They are bulky and tie into the “nerd” persona. We are assuming there are better options for the choice of headsets, but even if there aren’t, having headsets with red stripes on the sides detract from the presentation and take attention away from the broadcast.
3. Improving Professionalism
We NEED ads. Ads are a part of sports and media in the modern age, whether audiences like it or not. Ads show that companies and sponsors view League as something that is both profitable and positive for their image. They add legitimacy to the sport of League. This is why traditional sports teams and leagues are always looking to sell their advertising or naming rights for a higher price - it shows growth and development. There should be more and bigger companies sponsoring League all the time. Another huge benefit is that ads reduce the downtime that is spent showing a camera panning over a crowd looking at their cell phones or chilling out in between the games. Panning to the crowd constantly and for long periods gets repetitive and encourages fans to do stupid things for attention, which reinforces the immaturity attributed to gamers. Also, it’s more revenue, which means more, bigger, and better tournaments, leagues, and teams.
More respect for the sport of League than the game of League of Legends
The use of “summoner” as a broadcast term to describe the player base, especially during broadcasts, feels out of place when words like fans or players are just as suitable. I understand the desire to brand the ground floor League community, but it is a word that is derived the lore of League, which is separate from the professional gaming aspect. This only further separates established fans of League from the new audiences Riot is trying to pull in. It also heavily reinforces the “nerd” culture that Riot should not be focusing on. Also, this is an eSport, which is bigger than just League; don’t make other gamers feel like they aren’t part of our community.
For the love of god, don’t focus on your mistakes
Casters, please stop identifying your terrible joke or pun and continuing to talk about how you messed up the delivery or thought process. In any live broadcast, people make mistakes. They forget lines, get timing wrong, and misjudge the flow of the conversation. When a professional broadcaster makes a mistake, they simply move on and get back to the cast. How many times have you heard Phreak referencing a terrible pun when it doesn’t get a laugh? All you have to do after an awkward comment is to go back to play-by-play or the state of the game (items, summoners, objectives) and keep moving. Right now it feels like the unfunny kid who is laughing about his terrible joke.
We want eSports to be as successful as possible. We love League of Legends, eSports, and the awesome communities that have formed around them. We want to be able to share our love and connection to these new things that we believe have the potential to be great. Our ideas are simple solutions to simple problems that impact the viewer in a manner that is discernible and highly visible, so the return on investment on these improvements would be astronomical. This is NOT about ripping up the roots of what makes eSports valuable or more intimate than traditional sports broadcasting. eSports is and for the foreseeable future will continue to be slightly counterculture, and this is a good thing, but we shouldn’t reject established ideas that can help our image out of a desire to be more “gamer-y”. We need to be excelling in our broadcasting, not merely doing it well.
In spite of all of our criticism, there are a lot of things Riot and the production team are doing VERY well! Sjokz’s interviews are great, casters and observers are getting better, and giddy love of the game and community is very apparent and stark in contrast to the traditional sports casters. We aren’t trying to attack Riot or belittle the achievements of eSports, but eSports has so much more to grow into and offer to society. eSports have failed before simply for not advancing at the pace of other mediums and sports. We need to be ahead of the curve, and to get there we have to learn from the best.
Sex, Drugs, and Meta
TL;DR: Implementing a lot of simple solutions would ameliorate many of the obvious issues with Riot’s broadcasting of professional League.