I remember when I saw a teaser for Players on Paramount; it became apparent quickly that it was about esports, and shortly afterward, it was evident that it was about League of Legends. And then the drama about a headcase League player blathering on about how he wants to win something before he retires.
The thing is, based on that alone, I actually thought it was something serious. It wasn’t until I had already taken the bait and looked up what this show actually was, did I learn that it was a fictional mockumentary, and then I was like ohhhhhhh that explains why anyone would even attempt to talk about being a League of Legends champion, that wasn’t in Korea.
Upon further discovery of the series, and finding out that it was done by the same team that had done the American Vandal mockumentaries, I was sold, because both seasons of that show were brilliant, and colliding two things I enjoyed seemed like a recipe for something I would like. Even more so when I found out that the format of the series was going to borrow heavily from The Last Dance documentary about the Chicago Bulls, which I also enjoyed immensely.
Needless to say, I was optimistic about the series, and upon finishing it, I think my instincts were pretty good about it. As a whole, I found Players to be very entertaining, downright hilarious at many points, and having been pretty deep into the League scene at a point in my life, a lot of ohhhhhh moments at reminiscing about the scene in general.
Creamcheese is a brilliant character in the sense that he’s basically every obnoxious stereotype there is about a professional gamer wrapped into a singular package and then have the volume turned up to 11. He’s no physical specimen, but he acts all hot shit because he plays games at a high level, and is just so unlikeable and obnoxious, but you can’t help but be amused at the avalanche of bullshit he’s just always selling.
The show makes no effort to hide the fact that they are speaking to a very niche audience, primarily League players past and present themselves. But everyone I’ve pitched the show to, who aren’t even or never weren’t League players who gave it a shot, all seemed to enjoy the show all the same, just because it’s just that well executed.
But the show digs deep with all the references that only really long-time League players would understand, and it really doesn’t shy away from a lot of the behavioral tendencies that have emerged from internet culture and the League scene, from memes, the way that the internet piles on, latches onto jokes and references that become unforgettable no matter how much you try, etc.
But one of the most brilliant things about the show is that it’s not officially sponsored by Riot Games themselves, the developers of the game. But their involvement in the show is unmistakable, considering almost all of the casters and commentators of the professional scene are all willing participants in the show, reprising their handles and identities. Regardless, in doing such, Riot kind of takes a lot of the steam behind most criticisms about the game, the scene, the culture, effectively out of the equation based on their general involvement, regardless of how palpable or not.
By owning a lot of the jokes and criticisms, in the show, it takes a lot of the power away from those flinging the stones on the internet, and they’re basically controlling their own narrative of how the League scene really is, by participating in the show and letting it happen the way it does.
But all in all, it’s just a well-executed show. It’s endlessly entertaining the way utilizes flashbacks in the exact same manner that The Last Dance does, but instead of talking about Michael Jordan and basketball, it’s talking about a bunch of video game geeks and a video game known for its ridiculous fanbase. But it does so with a tone and seriousness that of a real documentary, and as a whole package, it’s just such an easy show to be snickering and laughing along with.
It almost makes me miss playing the game, and being a part of the scene, but with two kids in the picture, ain’t nobody got any time for any more League these days, so good on Players for coming into existence and helping me remember the good times, and all the time I’m not blowing playing game after game of ARAM.