By Carlo Versano
If you had any lingering doubts that eSports had gone mainstream, they were probably been erased last weekend in Oakland, Calif.
The Oracle Arena ー the stadium that defending world champion Golden State Warriors call home ー played host to the 2018 North American League of Legends Summer Split Final, the last stop before the World Championships in South Korea next month.
Cheddar was there with Gabriella Devia-Allen, aka Le Tigress, to watch the action as Team Liquid swept Cloud9, 3-0, in a playoff series for the second straight year.
Liquid, led by the indomitable Doublelift, now goes to Seoul as the #1 North American seed ー a far cry from the days when the team was known as "forever fourth place."
"This one, especially, I feel really grateful," Doublelift told Le Tigress in an interview on Cheddar following Liquid's impressive win over the weekend. "We're really pumped up."
The playoff battle was streamed 430,000 times, according to ESC. And being played to a live crowd on the same floor where Steph Curry drains baskets has lent an air of mainstream credibility to the rapidly-growing world of eSports ー and League of Legends, in particular.
Sam Hartman-Kenzler (aka Kobe), the in-game commentator for Riot Games, said LoL's popularity boils down to game play that is constantly changing, creating an immersive experience for players that doesn't feel stale.
That sentiment was echoed by Riot's lead game designer, Mark Yetter, who told Cheddar it came down to LoL's "stickiness factor" and constantly-evolving landscapes.
As part of the competition, Le Tigress spoke to other LoL veterans, like Bjergesn, Aphromoo, and Sneaky ー who has gained fame as not just an AD Carry for LoL, but also as a prominent cosplayer. Sneaky's mother Beth was in Oakland to cheer him on, which will hopefully show other parents that "there is a future in professional gaming," Le Tigress said.
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