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League of Legends Aussie-Based OPL Grand Final Event Wrap-Up
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 03:09pm 14/08/15 | Comments
Joab was in attendance at the OPL Grand Final at Luna Park this year, read on for his complete adventure!

If words aren't your thing, watch the complete finals embedded above

On the same weekend that Evil Geniuses beat CDEC Gaming to take out the DOTA 2 International, Luna Park in Sydney hosted the finals for our own tournament of champions -- the League of Legends Oceanic Pro League. The games are superficially the same -- both are MOBAs, both played top down with teams of five -- but for fans, they're as different as Rugby and Rugby League.

The day begins at 11am, as a stream of fans make their way out of the Milson's Point train station and down to the harbourside, where the iconic face of Luna Park has been covered with League of Legends' own iconography -- Teemo. Teemo hats are out in force, as every fifth or sixth person appears to be wearing the signature green and red head covering. More impressive is the Cosplay -- people are wearing complex foam and latex costumes representing their favourite characters from League of Legends.

The crowd draws all types -- children, seniors, and everything in between -- but the majority of the attendees are young adults. Luna Park has been redecorated for the day, with rides and attractions bearing LoL related names, and the game's soundtrack playing throughout the park, but the main event will start six hours from now, when the Chiefs take on Legacy inside the park's Big Top arena.

Until then, the sun is shining and people are having fun. A scavenger hunt sends participants running around the park, completing activities and interacting with other fans. The concession stands sell carnival food which isn't actually that overpriced. Cosplayers pose for photos, people puff on ecigarettes like they're afraid of air that doesn't smell vaguely of fruit punch cordial. In the community tent, people squeeze together to listen to artists talk about designing character skins, commentators talk about the eSports scene and more.

Inside the Big Top is the main stage. I'm not supposed to be here. On the stage, 10 desktops sit, split into two groups of five. The event staff are setting up the stage and testing the equipment, so 10 staff members sit in the player's seats. Their faces are displayed on massive screens in front of the PCs, so that no matter where you're sitting you can see the emotions the players display when the Finals begin.

1400 people can fill the seats inside the arena, but hundreds more will stand outside around the screens. It's super cliche, but there really is an electricity in the air. Everyone here is excited for the Finals, and Riot is working hard to put on something special for the attendees.

But today isn't about them, not by a long shot. Deeper into the Big Top, behind the kitchen, past the wheeled gear boxes and up a flight of stairs are a pair of dressing rooms where the two teams -- the Chiefs and Legacy -- sit and strategise ahead of the season's biggest challenge.

The day wears on, and eventually it's time for the finals. The line outside the Big Top is massive, and once they're through the doors people line up again for League of Legends 'swag'. There's assigned seating in the stadium so there's no rush -- the Finals won't start for an hour yet, so people take their time, hit the concessions stands and make their way in.

The atmosphere inside is amazing. The event itself begins with a real life DJ Sona playing at some decks on the stage, and the crowd goes bananas for it. More ecigarettes blow incessant strawberry and lime smelling vapour through the air. The analysts desk is situated up above Luna Park itself, and the commentary team does their best to weave a narrative for the uninitiated. Around our seats though, everyone just wants the games to start. After an hour of analysis, the two teams come out, they sit at their computers and they start to play.

When I asked the Chiefs players the next day, Spookz and Swiffer argue briefly about the setup down on the stage. "Basically they have white noise playing through the headphones." he says, when Swiffer interjects with "It's pink noise." "White noise? Pink noise? It's white noise," continues Spookz. "So in the headphones they're playing white noise, and you've got your team comms, and you've got the game audio. So you can't really hear the crowd, but you can feel the vibrations when they react to something big."

The game is played on a ten second delay, so the only people getting a hint about what's to come are those in the audience -- the Chiefs players get extremely vocal during a successful gank, so when they start yelling you can tell a Legacy player is about to die. "We'd make a play, and then we'd just wait for it" explained Swiffer, while Swip3rR and Spookz laughed in the background. "And then you could feel the vibrations from the crowd."

Halfway through the night EGym's PC experienced technical difficulties, forcing both teams into a 'paused' state, where they had to sit and wait for the computer to be replaced. No talking was allowed during this time. Swiffer explained the situation. "Actually Riot realised that we had been paused for a really long time, so they allowed us to speak during the pause time," he told me. "They did that so we could re-establish where we were. It didn't impact us I think."

Legacy only managed to take one game off the Chiefs in the end, losing 3-1. Three out of the four analysts shoutcasting the event predicted the Chiefs would win 3 - 0, so ultimately Legacy did better than expected. The Chiefs were simply too good -- they spent the season undefeated, and it makes sense that they'd be able to take out a best of five showdown with their long time rivals.

The Chiefs walk away with $16,000 and a trip to the International Wildcard Qualifiers in Istanbul -- if successful there, they'll move on to the World Championships. Legacy walks away with another chapter in their saga and their first loss to The Chiefs in a Finals game -- but they can hold their heads high knowing they stopped the Chief's 28 game winning streak. What was most surprising for me was the way Riot managed to make a sports outing their own -- it might have been on a much smaller scale than DOTA 2's International Tournament, but it had no shortage of attractions for League of Legends fans. If anything, it's the guideline against which all other eSports events in Australia will be measured from here on out.
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