Close calls between players across fog-of-war, multi-man surprise team fights, a pendulum-like oscillation of comebacks and clutch saves, and solo lane kills are many aspects that can define an exciting game of League of Legends to the average viewer.
Yet, these excitable elements by no means make it a ‘good’ game for the viewer.
The perfect example of this occurred on Week 3 of OPL Split 1, Game 1 between Dire Wolves (DW) and Tainted Minds (TM).
Now, it doesn’t take a League of Legends savant to point out that the average level of play in the Oceanic Pro League is ostensibly lower than that of the bigger regions (namely North America, Europe, China and Korea).
As a result, the quality of games on average will also be lower than what most fans would be used to seeing as well. This is not to say that every game is a streamed Platinum ranked game, but what would be considered a high-level game in OPL could be considered normal in other regions.
Contextualising aside, by even the OPL standards, this specific game between Dire Wolves and Tainted Minds is probably one of the worst games of the split so-far, and definitely one of the worst games I have ever watch (admittedly within my smaller sample size of watched games).
The game’s storyline was meant to see Dire Wolves – an individually stacked roster that dominates laning phase but struggles late, versus Tainted Minds – a dark horse to win the split with their imports and fresh new line-up. On that front, the game certainly delivered.
The early stages of the game saw Dire Wolves get ahead as they capitalised on mistakes by Tainted Minds across the map. Chippys Fiora got ahead early after nearly solo killing Preadyth before diving him under turret with jungler Shernfire. ShorterACE got caught trying to respond to this dive by invading – resulting in his death. Cake was outplayed bottom as well, getting caught by the MF/Zyra combo of k1ng and destiny.
This early game advantage by Dire Wolves essentially guaranteed them to win the laning phase. Even some plays by TM to try and gain momentum was hampered by misplays on their side – whether it was a poor teleport by Praedyth, misplays by ShortACE or a general lack of ward coverage. AFter 20 minutes, DW had a 5k gold lead. This lead was created off the back of misplays by their opposition and a basic punishment of these mistakes, but it was a lead none the less, and a big one.
They had Chippys with Fiora on the top side of the map slowly snowballing, and a strong teamfight, with pick potential in the other four members. Avoid being in unfavourable positions and abuse the power of Fiora in the sidelane to constrict TM – the only thing that TM can possibly do when far behind like this is get picks with their slew of targeted crowd control and poke with Jayce. So, if DW prevent being picked with proper ward control and tempered passivity then the game is theirs.
Of course, over the next 20 minutes, Dire Wolves proceeded to get individuals or at times nearly their entire team picked and caught from fog-of-war/brush plays from Tainted Minds on over five consecutive occasions. Had it not been for Chippys’ Fiora in the side lane constantly pressuring and his clutch teleport triple kill the game could have easily gone the way of TM.
In the end, it took two barons, an elder drake and much needless game time for DW to close out the win by simply brute-forcing their way in a teamfight and pushing for the win.
The constant brush set-ups by TM and general cheesey plays in their macro game meant that they were always an ace or baron steal away from getting back into it. It made for very exciting moments and a tense atmosphere while watching, but this hardly indicates that this game was good. From an analytical stand-point the sheer volume of mistakes on both sides at both an individual and team level makes it an objectively bad game to watch.
The only shining elements from the first game of this Bo3 were Chippys and ChuChuz individual play – both of which could boast solid performances and adherence to the coherent strategies of their champions. Had it not been for these two players, the studio, the casters, and the facecams, this game might as well have been a streamed, high-level, ranked solo-queue game.
Due to the nature of the OPL, this TM vs DW game has not been the only poor game of the split. Legacy vs Sin also had an excitable back and forth predicated on enemies mistakes, an emphasis on kills, and poor ward control.
While pros on Twitter will comment on how exciting this game is, alongside the DW and TM game, make no mistake about it, exciting games are not always good games.