The Brilliance of Players

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.

LoL: Arcane – almost makes me want to get back into League

Being an out-of-touch dad these days, a lot goes over my head as far as things coming and going in popular culture.  As big of a League of Legends fan I was back in the day, you’d have thought that I might’ve been more aware of the Netflix series LoL: Arcane coming out but nope, after hearing some mumbles about League and Netflix, I didn’t hear nor pay any further attention, thinking that it was just ear candy since these days, just about every popular IP ends up going into the rumor mill with a project with Netflix.

Plus, as I grew out of League, and then all the allegations of sexist bro-culture over at Riot Games began emerging as if such weren’t already the case at likely every single gaming company in the world, I kind of just stopped caring.  As much enjoyment I got out of the game, it really was the epitome of an abusive relationship, seeing as how players get their ass kicked at probably a 60% clip even if they’re “good” at the game, and they come back for more, over and over again.

That, and one of those don’t meet your heroes kind of mentalities, I remembered and realized all the interactions and impressions I had of those of Riot Games personalities I’ve ever met, and kind of felt there was a degree of smarmy arrogance, that they were all a little too self-aware of their contributions towards the production of League, and then all the allegations of the toxic corporate culture seem all too relatable.

Regardless, when watching LoL: Arcane, all of the critical thoughts and opinions I might have about Rito and the actual game are all kind of washed away while I’m watching the show, and in its place is just simple enjoyment for a clever, beautifully executed series in my opinion.

Jinx (along with Miss Fortune) was easily one of my favorite and most-played champions, so a series revolving primarily around her, along with the general Piltover/Zaun setting was easy for me to be interested in.  And the mass edits to the lore all seemed to come into play, seeing as how I was pretty intrigued to see that the re-imagining of origins have now placed Jinx and Vi as sisters, which can explain a lot of the original animosity between the characters in-game.

I won’t analyze or spoil any of the plot, but I just want to sing the praises of LoL: Arcane, because I thought it was a very well done series.  The brushed painting style of the animation is refreshing and perfectly executed, and the plot is gritty and very much R-rated, which is interesting given how cartoony and lighter-plot the game is.  

There are easter eggs galore throughout the series, and those familiar with the game will probably have a fun time picking them out and then hypothesizing on plot points, potential future arcs and most importantly, how they tie into future appearances of recognizable champions.

The first six episodes were so well done, it almost makes me want to get back into the game, as abusive of a relationship it really is.  Then I realize that I’m a dad with no time on my hands anymore, and ponder how I even had as much time as I did in the past to play as fervently and obsessively as I used to.  So instead, I’ll just patiently wait for the rest of the series to pan out, and hope that Rito and Netflix can agree to produce more Arcane in the future, because I think there’s still a ton of lore that could make for entertaining television.

How to Combat Intentional Feeding in the NBA

After wasting 2.5 hours of my life watching WW84, I needed something to bring me back, something to make me laugh, and think about anything at all other than how much WW84 sucked.  And if there’s one good thing remaining about the NBA, it’s that they know no boundaries of how much to suck to the amusement of old man purists like myself who still think the 90s were the best era ever and that there’s no sports theme greater than the NBA on NBC theme, in history.

So when the Dallas Mavericks blew the LA Clippers out by 51 points, my interest was immediately piqued, because it always fascinates me just how pathetic the NBA gets year after year and that there’s basically no more pride and this defeatist mentality that pervades in all the players of today that allows for all of this to happen.

Like, back in my day, it was pretty rare to see a 20-point blowout, and those were pretty rare to begin with.  Shit, the most bonkers game I’d seen in my life at that time was this one Knicks vs. Bulls game where Derek Harper had the NBA Jam fire code going and the vaunted ‘96 Bulls got blown out by 30 points. 

But it was literal decades before I saw a game where a team got blown out by 40+ much less 50 points.  Ironically, this isn’t even the worst blowout that I’d ever seen, as I’d actually brogged about it in the past when the Memphis Grizzlies somehow got blown out by 61 points a few years ago.

The thing is, when I was really into League of Legends, and the professional scene specifically, I used to make tons of analogies about how basketball strategies translated very well in League of Legends, most notably when at the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational that mythical then-gf and I went to, Edward Gaming employed the MJ strategy against SK Telecom, let Faker have LeBlanc and do whatever he wanted, but built their team around stomping the shit out of all of Faker’s teammates, en route to a critical game 5 win.

However, this is a scenario where the tables have turned, and it’s about time we applied some League of Legends, or competitive gaming logic, to the NBA.  Primarily the idea that NBA games occasionally go full tilt, and the players ultimately end up griefing, intentionally feeding, and just plain forfeiting, regardless of if the fact that games don’t actually allow for unconditional surrenders, no matter how much the players probably wished they did, like when the Clippers were down 50 points at halftime.

Needless to say, the Clippers phoned it in super early, as if Luka Doncic got two early kills, and the Clippers basically decided that there was no more point in playing the rest of the game because he was fed and was going to snowball and dominate.  And as much as I find ironic amusement in the ownage the Clippers suffered, really it’s still no good for the NBA that teams phone it in and don’t seem to care that they’re allow themselves to be humiliated like such.

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How to reflect on a decade

This year ending isn’t just an ordinary ending of a year, because it’s also the end of a decade.  Naturally, a sentimental person like me tends to want to reflect on an entire decade, because much like individual years, a decade is a nice round chunk of time that one might think it would be easy to reflect upon, but in the greater spectrum, it’s ten full years we’d be trying to look back onto.  Now I like to think I have a good memory, but even without the aid of my trusty brog, it’s difficult to really look back at an entire decade.

Regardless, that’s not going to stop all the self-important jobbers of the internet who will try their darnedest to speak with authority and copy and paste all the same milestones the major news outlets will when it comes to trying to summarize and reflect upon the entire decade.  The funny thing is that most of the internet savvy generations probably aren’t that much older or younger than I am, which means that in the grand spectrums of our respective lives, we’ve only really lived through 3-4 decades, whereas I’d probably estimate that 1.5-2 of them are pretty invalid, because we’re simply not articulate and/or educated enough to have the capacity to reflect on entire decades.

So combined with the advent and growth of the internet, and the notion that everyone has a voice, I’d wager this is probably, at the very most, the second real decade of the modern high-speed internet that people really care to really reminisce about; and I’m being generous by calling it the second, because DSLs and cable internet didn’t really flourish until nearly the mid-2000’s; I couldn’t imagine people trying to use streaming, auto-refreshing social media on a 56K modem, so frankly I see this more as the first real decade that everyone and their literal mothers on the internet are going to be writing about.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to try to recollect from mostly just my own memories, and stick to things that are more relevant to my own little world, and not the big gigantic depressing one we live in.  If I had any readers, they can google any decade in review, and probably find more worldly and probably more high-profile shit than the things I have to say about the things going on in my own little life, like the start and finish of Game of Thrones, Pokemon Go, the sad state of American politics, all the endless mass shootings, and Bill Cosby being outed as a rapist.

And the reason that I disclaim the whole “if I had any readers” because one of the most devastating things that occurred for me is the fact that despite my WordPress going online in 2010, at nearly the very start of the decade, midway through the decade my brog went down indefinitely, when my brother relocated from one part of the country to another.  A lot of hardware changes meant no more place to host my brog, and despite having the supposed backups, I simply haven’t taken the time or allocated the funds necessary to get my site up and running again.

If I were the type to do New Years resolutions anymore, I think I’d resolve to get my site back up and running again in 2020.  TBD on if that will actually occur, and frankly with the things I have on my plate going into the next decade, I don’t want to commit and then fail to deliver.

In spite of the brog blackout, that hasn’t stopped me from writing.  Even to the day my site went down, I have been writing on a fairly regular basis, taking no more than two weeks off before the internal guilt gets my fingers flying across the keys again, and I’ve got at this point, hundreds of folders of dated and timestamped Word docs, all awaiting their day in which they can be posted retroactively to a brog.

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Man, the League scene has certainly changed

It might sound like something that might’ve never happened, but I haven’t played League of Legends in nearly a month.  While mythical gf was out of the country, I spent most of that time doing little projects around the house to try and surprise her with some cosmetic changes here and there, and because I was on permanent dog duty that whole time, I didn’t feel good about hiding out in my office playing League for hours for the sake of the dogs.

I don’t really miss it, or have any anxiety at not having earned any IP blue essence in that time; considering that among my friends I’m the only one who’s been the closest to having been the most regular player, it’s easier to have walked away, considering I haven’t been leaving anyone behind in the process.

But I don’t intend on staying away, since ultimately I still did enjoy the game, it’s just that I found other things to do with my spare time than play League, but until that time comes, it’s almost been a full month since the last time I queued up on the Abyss, and there are sure to have been a hundred little tweaks and changes that will blindside me the next time I log in.

However, as long as it’s been since I last played, it’s been nearly triple that, that I’ve paid any attention to the League esports scene.  It’s funny to think that like 2-3 years ago, I was really into the weekly standings and looking up videos and recaps afterwards, to get the condensed action minus all the mundane boring farming and laning phases of the games, and I’d care about who was on top in NA, all the way to trying to figure out what darkhorse secondary region was doing what.

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When in doubt, make it yourself

While mythical gf is vacationing out of the country without me because I’m not a teacher and I don’t get entire months off at a time, I decided that I would spend a chunk of my solitude working on my office. 

I mean, after a year of living here, it would only make sense that I would have the room where I do the bulk of my artwork and gaming to a point where I’d be able to sit back in my chair and look around and be somewhat satisfied with my immediate surroundings.  Nah, as is often times the case in my life, when it comes to the intricate things for myself, I have a tendency to slack on them, putting just about everything else first, like responsibilities.

One of the things I had in mind was that I wanted to have some floating shelves for the vast array of figurines that I’ve amassed throughout the years.  Primarily the League of Legends figures that I’d been collecting since they started producing them.  They’re pretty good quality, and I can appreciate the consistency and cohesiveness of them as a collection, and I wanted to display them.

The thing is, I was having a great deal of difficulty in finding floating shelves that I was satisfied with.  Primarily, I did not want floating shelves with a massive depth, that would fuck with my peripheral vision when I would be sitting at my machine, at the height that I had envisioned setting them up at.  Furthermore, floating shelves seem to be a really in thing when it comes to home decorating these days, so the cost of them are most certainly not as cheap as when the first time I came across them years ago at like either a Target or a Container Store.

To make matters worse, the shelves that I once had on the walls of the old house were nowhere to be found anymore; a simple floating shelf with a minimal depth, that would’ve been perfect for Rito figures.  In their place were an array of shelves with pretentious bevels and faux-trim accents, with shoddy hardware that were most certainly not very cost effective, nor were they remotely long enough to accommodate all the figures that I have.

Over the last year or so, my brother has gotten really into woodworking.  He’s gotten really good at it in that span of time, and he’s made an array of shelves, tables and other practical furniture with his own hands and tools.  Needless to say, as all good big brothers do, it inspired me to want to make some practical shit on my own.  I figure I’m a pretty meticulous person who has zero fear of working with my hands, I know I have the capabilities to do similar stuff to him, except that I don’t have near the hardware he does at his disposal to do the depth of work that he can.

But making floating shelves?  Simple, shallow-depth and of course, simple floating shelves?  Oh yeah, I know I could do this at least.

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The unnecessary aggravation of League of Legends

It’s no secret that I tend to play a lot of old shit.  I played Left 4 Dead long after the heydays passed by, and the public servers were reduced to long queue times and dwindling players whom began to all look familiar as players gradually disappeared.  On my phone, I still play Pokémon Go and Fire Emblem Heroes despite the fact that the OCD generation of gamers have already flocked onto at least 2-3 other more recent and time/money sucking mobile games.  And, with some regularity, I am still playing League of Legends.

Oh, League of Legends.

I can’t honestly say that I believe that they’re still the world’s most played video game anymore, what with the Overwatch League really gaining momentum, and Fortnite seeming like today what my nightly L4D sessions were 8-9 years ago (really, that long ago?).  Despite my general interest in both games, I have an issue with first and third-person perspectives where they make me a little motion sick and it takes me some time and reps to break through until it doesn’t bother me, and despite the fact that I overcame them in the past with L4D, Resident Evil and Mass Effect titles, I just don’t really feel like investing the time yet to do it again.  So, I still continue to play League, which hasn’t totally alienated me like it pretty much has with all of my other friends and mythical gf, all of whom I used to play with on a very regular, nightly basis.

That is until my most recent losing streak, which hit eight games last night.  And put me in a really dejected, and salty mood, that lingered up until this morning, even after a night’s sleep.  The thing is, this isn’t even my worst losing streak ever (14 consecutive losses), but at the current combination of game interest and the stage of my life in general, this particular losing streak really left me feeling with a completely disillusioned feeling that I’ve completely wasted my time and debating on whether or not I should just stop cold turkey, and go find something more constructive to do with my time.

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