Went to get my hair cut at Crow’s Nest Barber Shop, which expanded to my city yesterday. I always like barber shops because they always seem to have a very welcoming environment, and it’s kind of a masculinity thing; you talk, you get made up all nice, and you leave smelling great.

Most of the shops I’ve been took down their racks of porn mags and replaced it with football, odd decor, or just good conversation.

Crow’s Nest also seems to be part of the recent movement of young people to take up “old” professions: I can’t help but be reminded of Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Toronto, which is similarly staffed by people in their 20’s-40’s instead of 60’s-70’s. It’s a craft like anything else, and youth doesn’t mean they can’t respect that.

Sanagan’s is right down the road from Crow’s Nest’s first location in Toronto, and I’m happy to see them expand to Hamilton, Toronto’s smaller, more working-class sister. 

$25 + tip got me a snazzy cut and a can of PBR, which I wasn’t expecting; they don’t know if they’ll keep up the beer offerings, but it was the first time I’ve ever been offered one. A couple cute puppies and a giant marlin made the experience a good one, and I’ll be back.

I find that I’m a very isolationist worker; I tend to put on some headphones and just go, so to speak. Good music really helps. I’m going to use this post to compile a bunch of different playlists and resources for working to if you’re in the same boat as I am.
Songza’s Jazz for Working soundtrack is one of my favourites, partly because it doesn’t have any words involved. Especially when you’re searching for the right one, I don’t want to be distracted by others. Songza also has an entire concierge devoted to instrumental playlists. You can check them out here:
Working (No Lyrics): Songza - Listen to Music Curated by Music Experts
Studying (No Lyrics): Songza - Listen to Music Curated by Music Experts
Some favourites albums of mine include instrumental jazz hip-hop. All of these links have no lyrics except for one.
DJ Ezasscul
Ta-ku (and his 25 Nights for Nujabes playlist)
Nujabes (harder to find, but worth it)
Boards of Canada (their new album is lovely)
C418 (Minecraft soundtrack and others)
The soundtrack to Splice, one of my favourite indie games.
The soundtrack to Bastion, one of my favourite games, period.
The soundtrack to Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery.
J-Dilla’s “Donuts”
Kenichiro Nishihara (for those who like lyrics and piano). Albums also available on iTunes.
Turnabout Jazz Soul, a cover album of Phoenix Wright songs done by a jazz/soul band.
Suite for Ma Dukes, an orchestral album of J-Dilla songs
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony CD (saw this live. Brought tears to my eye)
Pokemon Reorchestrated, a collection of classic Pokemon music
RJD2’s Deadringer (iTunes)
I also like to use Noisli or Rainymood for background noise; I prefer the former because it has independent volume controls for all the different possible sounds. You can mix and match things like wind, rain, thunder, fire, white/brown/pink noise, and find something that works.
Have any suggestions?

I find that I’m a very isolationist worker; I tend to put on some headphones and just go, so to speak. Good music really helps. I’m going to use this post to compile a bunch of different playlists and resources for working to if you’re in the same boat as I am.

Songza’s Jazz for Working soundtrack is one of my favourites, partly because it doesn’t have any words involved. Especially when you’re searching for the right one, I don’t want to be distracted by others. Songza also has an entire concierge devoted to instrumental playlists. You can check them out here:

Working (No Lyrics): Songza - Listen to Music Curated by Music Experts

Studying (No Lyrics): Songza - Listen to Music Curated by Music Experts

Some favourites albums of mine include instrumental jazz hip-hop. All of these links have no lyrics except for one.

I also like to use Noisli or Rainymood for background noise; I prefer the former because it has independent volume controls for all the different possible sounds. You can mix and match things like wind, rain, thunder, fire, white/brown/pink noise, and find something that works.

Have any suggestions?

Quick Thoughts - ADC Summoners on 4.5

willchobra:

I’ve seen quite a few ADC users talk about how the Summoner Spell changes affect ADC Spell options in 4.5, specifically the change to Heal. ADC users here and there seem concerned that these changes will “force” ADC’s to carry Heal over Barrier. I’d like to dispute that thought.

1. Heal vs. Barrier
Heal is still weaker in lane in terms of pure effective health power. Heal will take until level 8 to reach the same effective health efficiency as Barrier, which usually means the duration of a standard laning phase (oftentimes shorter these days.)

Heal of course contributes by eliminating healing debuffs (ignite, impure shots etc.), but at levels 1-5 are you really going to hurt from that? Probably not.

Now Heal has more utility. This is true. The move-speed for 2 seconds could make or break an early skirmish, in either direction. But why does this mean the ADC has to take Heal? In fact, if you’re afraid of being initiated on, why not take both Barrier AND Heal?

Also, Barrier still has a shorter cooldown, albeit only 30 seconds. It’s still an advantage it has.

2. Heal on the Support
Now I’m going to talk full efficiency. The default counter argument will be “Support not always near ADC”, which is true, but hear me out to the end. Heal is no longer an AOE around the user. It is a smart-targeted ability. It will affect the user and the ally champion nearest to the user’s cursor (within a range of course).

Let’s assume the ADC takes Heal. There are essentially two late game scenarios. A teamfight or a Duel. In a teamfight, chances are the ADC will not have the leisure to find an appropriate ally target to heal. It will always be for the ADC themselves, and most likely affects the ally nearest as the ADC’s cursor is probably right in front of them. There’s much lost potential in Heal efficiency here.

In a Duel it’s even worse. You will use it in a 1v2 or 1v1, and while yes, you get the full effects, you essentially ignore the fact that it can be used on an ally. So if the enemies see you split-pushing, and come to 2v1 you and blow your heal, it’s a huge advantage for them. If you had a different single target spell, aggressive or defensive, it’d be less of an advantage for them.

As for the Support: In teamfights they will indeed be next to the ADC most of the time, but if they are not, it should be for good reason. Maybe your ADC player has the mechanics and is on a champion that can fend for itself (think ezreal). Maybe your ADC is so fed and your bruiser could do with more heals or CC to help lockdown the enemy team. In either case, then the Heal can be used to buff the initiation of your bruiser (or save a different Carry such as your mid.)

Again, the ADC will always see the full potential of Heal if he/she carries it, but I’m willing to bet that this will lead to big losses in Heal’s efficiency a majority of the time. The Support carrying will have many more chances to use it to its full potential.

3. Alternatives for ADC’s
Let’s assume then that your Support takes Heal.

- Barrier
As I mentioned earlier, this will make your laning phase SUPER tanky. Could be used aggressively although probably only in the case of a Leona vs Thresh/Ali Support match-up where the Supports can do good damage 1v1ing the ADC. Definitely can be used in a farming lane if your opponents try to all-in you.

- Ignite
I’m not REALLY liking Ignite on ADC’s still, but if your team really needs an extra (top is running Heal or TP, mid is running Barrier or flash/ghost etc) then it’s still an option. If you’re winning the duo lane, it can be used to bait the enemy duo’s (probable) Heal. You can still use it in a late-game fight, be it a 1v1 or if someone like a Jax is jumping on your with his BotRK.

- Exhaust
This is my favorite pick-up for ADC’s coming up. More than anything, I think it’s one that ADC’s can use with the most versatility. It’s uses are well proven already, being used as extra CC to attack or to escape. What’s more, if you’re going to split push, this is your spell now. Only 1 enemy shows up? Exhaust them and force a duel. With it’s changes now, it’s useful against both Auto-Attack or Burst enemies. 2v1 coming to block you? Exhaust the CC potential and run away. In a teamfight and Jax all on your face? Exhaust him and laugh in his face.

- The others
The others are pretty straight forward and niche. Cleanse has proven itself already, as some ADC’s are starting to bring it back against these heavy wombo compositions returning. Teleport is obviously a niche pick if you want to Old School CLG everyone. Ghost can also be a niche pick if you think you will always be with your team, then rely on your Support for a heal + crucible and use Ghost to kite more efficiently against bruisers….and clarity/clairvoyance…no

That’s my quick write-up. Again, Heal on the ADC is great now, I just think it means it won’t be used to its fullest potential as often. Worth thinking about other options to open up more strategic versatility…

like the return of Enchanted Crystal Arrow->Teleport to lane->Pick up Kill Ashe. XP

mattdlikestea:

Hey. Hey you.
You should take a picture of your favourite mug and send it to me (as a photo).
I need to test some theories.

mattdlikestea:

Hey. Hey you.

You should take a picture of your favourite mug and send it to me (as a photo).

I need to test some theories.

mattdlikestea:

My friend brought his own oolong to New Year’s brunch. It had a sweet-ass tin.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Soon.

Soon.

Freelance Journal: Week 52

Me, on week 52

Today marks my one-year anniversary of leaving my full-time job and becoming a fully freelance journalist. It’s been a weird road, and I figured I’d do a little bit of an update post with what I’ve learned, and how I’ve grown as a person.

Originally, I was working at a software company job that didn’t really satisfy me. I was working at multiple outlets on the side, making side money to supplement my entry-level salary, and after doing some math, I realized that I would be able to make enough income to get by, while giving me free time to try new things.

At the time, I was working for the Toronto Star doing game reviews on a bi-weekly basis. I was also producing content for Android Police, a blog which focused on reviewing apps for mobile platforms; between these two gigs, I was making enough to cover rent, Internet, my cell phone and student loans. My plan was to keep doing these things while pitching new publications for one-off articles which would pay more, expand my portfolio and hopefully raise my status in the communities that I was working in; this would, in turn, produce more work.

However, once I handed my two weeks’ notice in and got down to the brass tacks of working from home, things became a lot more difficult. I had always had a problem with self-discipline, and the best laid plans of waking up at hours similar to my old 9-5 quickly fell apart. I was embracing working from home in the same way that a recent high school grad takes to the university life: my sleep schedule, diet, social life and workload suffered.

I suppose that’s the first bit of advice that I can give to people: if you have a plan, you need to be roughly twice as disciplined as you think you are in order to pull it off. You need to be able to send pitch after pitch after pitch, and recognize that you will likely get little money for the work you are putting in; even respected publications in your niche may not have a budget for you in the beginning. You need to show your value, and spiral outwards from there.


When I started freelancing, my main goal was to keep making enough money to pay rent and stay in Toronto. While this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, my methodology ultimately made it toxic to my mental well-being, as well as my career path.

I had a certain pride about having 100% of my income come from freelancing, because it meant that I was a valuable and productive person. Being able to say that I used my degree in order to make rent and bills was pretty cool, because journalism as a career is often devalued to the point of people thinking pursuing an education in it is a mistake.

Therefore, when money issues arose, I fought very hard against the urge to take “the easy way out” and get a part-time job, or working in a more lucrative niche. In my head, this meant that I’d be sacrificing the freedom of waking up whenever I wanted and writing about things I cared about, or being able to pull a long night of writing just because the mood felt right then.

What I didn’t realize was that I was already making a sacrifice: in order to have the freedom of schedule, I was forgoing a lot of the stable income. That was the trade-off. I was under this… illusion that being free was going to give me more time to work, but in reality I was goofing off the same amount I always was, if not more.

I also felt that by going to work at a newspaper, or by writing ad copy, I’d eventually come to hate writing; this scared the crap out of me, because I tend to turn all my hobbies into things I write about. Writing is tied to so much of who I am and so much of my self-worth that hating it was scary.

Getting a part-time job also meant admitting that I was a failure, because if I worked hard enough, I wouldn’t have to make the compromise. This kind of thinking started a vicious cycle that kind of compounded in on itself; I would believe that I wasn’t working hard enough, but then I would get depressed, which would keep me from working and then start the doubt anew. It was silly. I’m still working on it.

I tried multiple times to reign myself in by using strategies like RescueTime, Pomodoro or just plain editing my hosts file in order to block sites that I was visiting. However, the stuff that I ended up abusing the most was the stuff I tricked myself into thinking that I “needed for work”, like Reddit, Tumblr or Twitter.

Ultimately, while I would like to say that I’ve lasted a year, I feel like a bit of a fraud by saying so; I’ve relied on a lot of help to maintain my bills and finances, along with just plain luck. The first couple months were close to Christmas money, and with my leftover vacation pay, I was able to keep rent and bills at bay. However, once those ran out, some months I needed to ask for assistance from my parents, which again, compounded the doubt that I wasn’t working hard enough.

That was the weirdest thing about this whole experience so far. Despite being abnormally hard on myself with the standard that I needed to live up to, I found myself making the same mistakes in mindset and work habits that allowed it to perpetuate. While freelancers are assumed to be constantly pitching and working on features, or at least constantly working, I wasn’t doing that.

I wasn’t seeking out new publications to work for, or networking with new people in my field. I wasn’t expanding my work base. I was trying new projects here and there, and working on “big” things that were well-received. However, I think my main mistake was putting so much weight on these new projects that they became must-win scenarios for both my confidence and bank account. When they didn’t, it became really easy to wallow in the situation, wondering if I was good enough in the first place.


This changed in early 2013, when I seemingly had a couple projects lined up that I could consider “my big break”. Life-changing things. Things that would’ve eventually lead to dream careers. In January, I got a press pass to go to South Korea to watch and report on the OLYMPUS OGN Champions Winter League of Legends event, which would be my first live watching of the game.

This came as a result of pitching a story previously, so I had two features to do for a publication I really respected. I also looked at it as a really big career move: the social media exposure I would get from publishing these pieces would be great for giving me credibility and showing my expertise.

I also entered into a hiring process with Riot Games to potentially be an on-site journalist for League of Legends. This was also a huge deal, as if successful, I would move to sunny California, start with a “blank slate” in terms of being able to fix bad habits (socially and otherwise) and just meet a lot of new people. The cult of Riot kind of took hold in me hard, and it was something I wanted - or needed - to work out.

However, both of these projects didn’t, to say the least.

Both of my features were initially not received well by my editor, and it hurt my confidence considerably; my self-doubt really took hold, and got worse when both stories were killed before publication. Riot also had some issues with paying me on time for the first bit of my contract, which lead to some rough times financially; I had borrowed so much from my family at this point that asking for more felt like a point of weakness.

Eventually, Riot told us that they would be moving away from full-time writers to freelancers, which means I would be doing more work for less money if I wanted to keep working for them. This also meant moving to California and full-time employment was off the table, as was the benefits that came along with it. Ultimately, it was really disappointing; both of these projects ended in the same week, and it made me think I was unsuited for anything involving journalism.

What made it worse was that both of these projects were backups for each other; when I experienced difficulty or problems with one, I was able to tell myself “at least I have X that will work out for me.” When both of them didn’t deliver, it was really hard to deal with. It felt like a lot of wasted time, or at least wasted confidence; getting to those points made me think I was good at what I did, so failing hurt.

I still wonder what could have happened if I had just compromised more in one direction or another; I haven’t quite “gotten over it”, even after some months. I had applied for a job previously with Riot that I declined when I found out it wasn’t involved with reporting, and the guy who eventually did get the job is doing work close to what I wanted, ironically.


Since then, I’ve made a lot of realizations about my craft, and what I want out of this whole freelancing thing. I wrote a longer piece about my eSports-specific journey here, but I feel this applies to everything I do, not just that one niche.

After the Season 3 World Championships, my main revelation was that I needed to do more work: while this doesn’t seem too out-of-the-ordinary, it was at the time. To a lot of people outside looking in, it looked like I was working myself to death; however, they were only seeing one side of things, which hid my slacking.

My mindset was to focus on what I was good at, which was longer features, and things that ultimately took time to develop. The problem with this is that my momentum would shift back to zero every time I published something; I was doing “big” things, but needed smaller pieces of content to keep my name circulating and my expertise growing. Even with a semi-large following I found it hard to draw eyeballs to my content; it wasn’t so much “oh hey, it’s a Matt Demers article”, but a “oh, it’s an article by someone who I happen to follow.”

And in all honesty, I need to change that. I have to motivate myself to constantly work on pieces that are going to expand my reach and influence while simultaneously hustling to get bigger money projects done that will secure myself financially. I need to constantly be pitching and not worrying about working for new publications. I need to be able to push aside the fear of failure and learn from the failures that do happen. I need to stop being jealous of peers, because that stuff is deadly. I need to find people to work with that I respect. I need to find hobbies that I don’t automatically turn into work.

Unfortunately, I think this this comes a bit too late.

As it stands, I returned from the Season 3 World Championship without a stable source of income, and since I hadn’t put a lot of time into being consistent, I wasn’t in a place to be a “hot free agent”. What was once a “never happening” scenario is now going to be my future: I’m leaving Toronto, and going back to my hometown to live with my parents.

On one hand, I feel really defeated going back; this is my admission that my first year of freelancing should have been undertaken better, and all I can do from this point on is move forward, learn from my mistakes and try to be better.

Since I will no longer have rent to worry about, this means that I’ll be able to try new things without that constant need to make them “pay off”. I’ll be able to invest the time needed into these new ventures that is required before giving up. I will be able to build confidence, and stop beating myself up so damned much.

This is the plan, and hopefully it will lead to something good.

So wish me luck, and hopefully I’ll be back here for year two, a little bit wiser.

This is Matt Demers, over and out.


TIP OF THE ICEBJERG

Team SoloMid brings on a new player; how will this affect their future?
By Matt Demers, originally posted on Medium.

Sometimes news is so big that it takes more than a day to fully digest.
Team Solo Mid’s acquisition of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg turned out to be one of those stories, as the front page of /r/LeagueofLegends was lit up with announcements, celebrations, AMAs and numerous video highlights. This continued in the days that followed, as the young Dane racked up impressive numbers on his Twitch.tv stream; even though we’re in the off-season, 60,000+ viewers is nothing to scoff at.
It’s been interesting, because Bjerg’s entrance into the biggest North American League of Legends brand seems to have given the rest of the team a revitalization as well; even gauging their streams, they seem happier.
Through some miraculous luck, four members of the team (all but Alex “Xpecial” Chu) were able to get on the same side of a Ranked match multiple times the other day, and TSM repeated that with some on-stream arranged matches with the new, complete roster. The result was four TSM streams in the top ten most-watched channels for the game on Twitch.tv; at its peak, this meant 100,000+ people, all watching them at the same time.
Regardless of what Andy “Reginald” Dinh thinks about his retirement in favour of Bjerg’s acquisition, his business sense must be tingling. Even if TSM flop in the next season, they will not be hurting for money or fans while they do it.


Bjerg mentioned in his Ask Me Anything thread that he had met with TSM during World Championships, and their relationship and negotiations began there. I personally witnessed this friendliness; while there wasn’t any indication the teams were looking for a new player — TSM were in the middle of playing — it’s always interesting to see inter-mingling between the regions.
Along with Edward “Edward” Abgaryan’s brief stint stateside and Team Quantic’s Korean incursion, Bjerg adds to a growing number of people looking to come to North America to be part of the scene. It’s a trend I’m not really sure how to analyse; with NA being viewed as somewhat of a “weaker” scene (especially after World Championships) it could be the allure of fresh competition. Also, for someone as hyped as Abgaryan and Bjerg, their stellar play makes them valuable not only to people wanting a strong team, but a strong brand, as well.
It’s that last point which I think will make Bjerg’s time in TSM an especially profitable one. We saw this with the addition of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, whose first week performance (notably his pentakill) jump-started the Cult of TSM back to prominence after a noticeable dip at the start of Season 3. Tran’s stream rocketed to 30,000 regular viewers seemingly overnight, as a testament to what being on TSM will do for you.
Tran was known for being a strong player and his aggressiveness — the type of play that makes highlight reels that hit Reddit. If we’ve learned anything from the past couple days, Bjerg does the same. Bringing in new blood adds a new coat of paint to the TSM hype train and a new source of content. Fans have already taken to idolizing their new “Burger King” (a nickname I’m not entirely thrilled with), and he seems have fit right in.


I make no attempts to hide the fact that TSM solo lane player Marcus “Dyrus” Hill got me in to competitive League of Legends, as his residence in the team’s old New York house provided that hook. When he was properly acquired, replacing Christian “The Rain Man” Kahmann in early 2012, that was the impetus I needed to start paying attention to the tournament scene.
Hill’s emergence allowed TSM to hit a renaissance of great results and renewed confidence; they were reinvigorated, looked dominant and had the room to grow as a team around an already-solid player.
This happened again with Tran’s acquisition; there was little spin-up time needed, and TSM were able to ride that momentum to finish first in that split’s playoff. They did not need to babysit his transition into competitive play, as he was already quite active on the Challenger circuit.
That same surge of success could potentially happen with Bjerg; the trip over the Atlantic doesn’t seem to be affecting his play, and with a proper team supporting him, he could reach his full potential in terms of stardom. For all we know, he could affect not only the rest of his team, but the players in the region as well; players facing him may need to step up considerably.
Regardless of how well TSM perform in the future, I think it’s important to notice that this gives them the potential to grow away from bad habits. Perhaps Brian “TheOddOne” Wyllie’s jungle will have more room to breathe, or Hill will have some attention taken off of his early game. For all we know, Bjerg’s aggressive play-style could mesh well with Tran, who plays the same way.
These are questions that get thrown around with any new acquisition, but as someone who once enjoyed TSM’s play, but was turned off by their internal conflicts, I can’t help but be a little excited.


I know the word “potential” has been thrown around a lot in different contexts lately, but I firmly believe that if change needs to happen, it should be free to. Many can point to Andy Dinh’s Type A personality as a contributing factor to TSM’s problems, but replacing him as a player won’t fix that — as long as the team remains under his ownership, they will be dealing with him regardless.
Bjerg removing one side of Dinh’s coach/player/owner pyramid could give some much-needed space. He will still have an active role within the team as their coach, but less balls to keep in the air at once may let them evolve. However, while we can always say that new perspectives may be a good thing in this case, it all comes down to how much of Dinh’s influence will come through in their strategy.
If Bjerg is a literal stand-in for Reginald’s play style, we could end up with the TSM we’ve seen since the beginning of Season 3: good by North American standards, but hardly world-class. However, if Bjerg brings TSM back to a mindset that they can thrive in — one of confidence, comfort and focus — they could return to dominance that this old-guard team sorely needs.
Like I said in the opening paragraph of this post, the thing we, as observers, need is time to let this percolate — for all we know, this could just be part of a honeymoon period that thrives on hype.
However, the optimist in me wants believe better. Who knows? This might just be what it takes for me to become a TSM fan again.


Matt Demers is a journalist, interviewer and columnist. You can find his eBooks about social media management in eSports here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

TIP OF THE ICEBJERG

Team SoloMid brings on a new player; how will this affect their future?

By Matt Demers, originally posted on Medium.

Sometimes news is so big that it takes more than a day to fully digest.

Team Solo Mid’s acquisition of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg turned out to be one of those stories, as the front page of /r/LeagueofLegends was lit up with announcements, celebrations, AMAs and numerous video highlights. This continued in the days that followed, as the young Dane racked up impressive numbers on his Twitch.tv stream; even though we’re in the off-season, 60,000+ viewers is nothing to scoff at.

It’s been interesting, because Bjerg’s entrance into the biggest North American League of Legends brand seems to have given the rest of the team a revitalization as well; even gauging their streams, they seem happier.

Through some miraculous luck, four members of the team (all but Alex “Xpecial” Chu) were able to get on the same side of a Ranked match multiple times the other day, and TSM repeated that with some on-stream arranged matches with the new, complete roster. The result was four TSM streams in the top ten most-watched channels for the game on Twitch.tv; at its peak, this meant 100,000+ people, all watching them at the same time.

Regardless of what Andy “Reginald” Dinh thinks about his retirement in favour of Bjerg’s acquisition, his business sense must be tingling. Even if TSM flop in the next season, they will not be hurting for money or fans while they do it.

Bjerg mentioned in his Ask Me Anything thread that he had met with TSM during World Championships, and their relationship and negotiations began there. I personally witnessed this friendliness; while there wasn’t any indication the teams were looking for a new player — TSM were in the middle of playing — it’s always interesting to see inter-mingling between the regions.

Along with Edward “Edward” Abgaryan’s brief stint stateside and Team Quantic’s Korean incursion, Bjerg adds to a growing number of people looking to come to North America to be part of the scene. It’s a trend I’m not really sure how to analyse; with NA being viewed as somewhat of a “weaker” scene (especially after World Championships) it could be the allure of fresh competition. Also, for someone as hyped as Abgaryan and Bjerg, their stellar play makes them valuable not only to people wanting a strong team, but a strong brand, as well.

It’s that last point which I think will make Bjerg’s time in TSM an especially profitable one. We saw this with the addition of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, whose first week performance (notably his pentakill) jump-started the Cult of TSM back to prominence after a noticeable dip at the start of Season 3. Tran’s stream rocketed to 30,000 regular viewers seemingly overnight, as a testament to what being on TSM will do for you.

Tran was known for being a strong player and his aggressiveness — the type of play that makes highlight reels that hit Reddit. If we’ve learned anything from the past couple days, Bjerg does the same. Bringing in new blood adds a new coat of paint to the TSM hype train and a new source of content. Fans have already taken to idolizing their new “Burger King” (a nickname I’m not entirely thrilled with), and he seems have fit right in.

I make no attempts to hide the fact that TSM solo lane player Marcus “Dyrus” Hill got me in to competitive League of Legends, as his residence in the team’s old New York house provided that hook. When he was properly acquired, replacing Christian “The Rain Man” Kahmann in early 2012, that was the impetus I needed to start paying attention to the tournament scene.

Hill’s emergence allowed TSM to hit a renaissance of great results and renewed confidence; they were reinvigorated, looked dominant and had the room to grow as a team around an already-solid player.

This happened again with Tran’s acquisition; there was little spin-up time needed, and TSM were able to ride that momentum to finish first in that split’s playoff. They did not need to babysit his transition into competitive play, as he was already quite active on the Challenger circuit.

That same surge of success could potentially happen with Bjerg; the trip over the Atlantic doesn’t seem to be affecting his play, and with a proper team supporting him, he could reach his full potential in terms of stardom. For all we know, he could affect not only the rest of his team, but the players in the region as well; players facing him may need to step up considerably.

Regardless of how well TSM perform in the future, I think it’s important to notice that this gives them the potential to grow away from bad habits. Perhaps Brian “TheOddOne” Wyllie’s jungle will have more room to breathe, or Hill will have some attention taken off of his early game. For all we know, Bjerg’s aggressive play-style could mesh well with Tran, who plays the same way.

These are questions that get thrown around with any new acquisition, but as someone who once enjoyed TSM’s play, but was turned off by their internal conflicts, I can’t help but be a little excited.

I know the word “potential” has been thrown around a lot in different contexts lately, but I firmly believe that if change needs to happen, it should be free to. Many can point to Andy Dinh’s Type A personality as a contributing factor to TSM’s problems, but replacing him as a player won’t fix that — as long as the team remains under his ownership, they will be dealing with him regardless.

Bjerg removing one side of Dinh’s coach/player/owner pyramid could give some much-needed space. He will still have an active role within the team as their coach, but less balls to keep in the air at once may let them evolve. However, while we can always say that new perspectives may be a good thing in this case, it all comes down to how much of Dinh’s influence will come through in their strategy.

If Bjerg is a literal stand-in for Reginald’s play style, we could end up with the TSM we’ve seen since the beginning of Season 3: good by North American standards, but hardly world-class. However, if Bjerg brings TSM back to a mindset that they can thrive in — one of confidence, comfort and focus — they could return to dominance that this old-guard team sorely needs.

Like I said in the opening paragraph of this post, the thing we, as observers, need is time to let this percolate — for all we know, this could just be part of a honeymoon period that thrives on hype.

However, the optimist in me wants believe better. Who knows? This might just be what it takes for me to become a TSM fan again.

Matt Demers is a journalist, interviewer and columnist. You can find his eBooks about social media management in eSports here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Explaining League of Legends: A Checklist

Earlier this week I got coffee with a friend of mine that was genuine curious about League of Legends and how it translates into an eSport. I was more than happy to oblige her, but after I was done I couldn’t help but notice how long it took to get into everything that I felt was relevant to her understanding.

These are the things I touched on in various forms, and I figure that listing them might help you guys to form your own conversations around the game. In terms of the basics of the game:

  • The map, and the concept of minions (team-specific, “dumb” monsters that re-spawn and push)
  • The character, how they grow (last-hits and experience)
  • The concept of how each game is separate instances, instead of a persistent build like World of Warcraft.
  • The jungle, and the concept of neutral monsters
  • Turrets, inhibitors and the Nexus, how they function, and why they’re important
  • The current trend of lane assignments and the jungler, and the different roles of players

I think with those points you can kind of get an idea of how the game is played, but at the moment that only scratches the surface. For those who want an explanation of the ecosystem of League of Legends, you have to go a bit deeper.

  • The concept of Runes and Masteries (passive statistics, customization), and how they suit different roles
  • The concept of your account having a level system, and how it limits you in regards to Runes and Masteries
  • The generation of IP, the costs of RP, and the unlock system of champions
  • Ranked play vs. normals, the division/league system and how it benefits professional players to be as high as possible

Furthermore, if you’re feeling saucy, you can go further into the ecosystem of eSports,and how professionals make a living from the game.

  • Streaming, subscriptions, donations and sponsorships
  • The salary system in the LCS, and how it works for substitute players
  • The Challenger scene, and how many players substitute or are brought up to LCS teams
  • The “old” way of competing in tournaments compared to the new way of doing things
  • How Riot essentially leaves Korea alone and lets them do their own thing
  • Reddit, and ways that pro players gain and keep their popularity

As you can see this is an awful lot to digest, especially for those who aren’t ready for the full breadth of it. The benefit, though is that this list allows people to mix and match for what interests them: some people might want to know why the game is so popular, but don’t care much for the eSports.

Then again, the opposite might be true, which makes having the eSports talk a bit more interesting with grown adults; usually when you can mention the money factor and the business growth, it’ll keep them from dismissing the whole thing as a passing fad for kids and manbabies.

I’m always trying to refine my “pitch”, so to speak, so that I can rifle off why this game is important to me, and why other people should take it seriously. If you have any suggestions or refinements, let me know on Twitter, or comment here!

The Game of Needs
The weird relationship between eSports teams and the journalists that cover them.
The fundamental purpose of journalism is to both serve the public and give voices to those who may not have a voice. The latter point is why many bands, artists, businesses or people on the street make a big deal out of being on TV news or in newspapers: they get exposure from the experience, and their product gets moved out to a larger audience.
However, the key point here is their agenda is being filtered through the journalist and his/her editors, who may ask inconvenient questions or portray people as they are, not how they want to be seen; this is the difference between a news story and a press release.
This became relevant to League of Legends when I read about Duncan “Thorin” Shields’ recent troubles, as one of his Grilled series of interviews was promptly spiked by Counter Logic Gaming. The team has a policy to review interviews before they’re published, and they ultimately have the final word; I’ve gone through this process myself when I talked to Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, their new coach.
Emphasis mine:

When I edited and uploaded the interview the CLG manager informed me that, after watching it, it could not be released, at all. He felt it reflected poorly on the brands of CLG and Doublelift. There was no discussion allowed, or debate.


[…] With that said, it’s also pretty likely I will never be able to interview CLG members again, assuming this policy remains in place. Now that I know what is possible I won’t ever consent to work under those terms again, nobody will edit or veto any of my content.

This actually isn’t that unusual; especially in the cases of interviewing musicians, the band’s manager is looking out for the best interests of the people in his charge. However, what usually makes uncomfortable content a little bit more negotiable is the clout of the publication; many up-and-comers (hell, even big players) would not turn down a chance to be in Pitchfork, Rolling Stone or GQ.
At the moment, though, League of Legends journalists do not have that benefit; Shields’ Grilled series is probably the closest thing to it.
This is because most League teams (at least, the more popular ones) have a follower count and fanbase that dwarfs that of the people that are interviewing them. This creates an awkward situation where the journalists are put in a place of needing the teams more than the teams need them; traffic fuels dollars and community, and enough of both means they can keep working.
Shields is kind of a unique case, as Grilled will often frontpage on Reddit on virtue of being Grilled. Without the ability to talk to people who League of Legends fans are interested in hearing from, though, the potential for traffic and new followers shrinks.
In this case alone, the four key CLG Twitter accounts who would be providing exposure for this story (DoubleLift, Kelby, HotshotGG and CLGaming) could bring in 200,000+ potential eyeballs if all were to retweet; that is not including Facebook or their sponsor’s accounts, either.
I can say from my own personal experience that I know which teams or players will get the piece (and my work) more exposure than others. It is these players/teams’ that determine who become successful figures, and they realize that.
Also, if their fan base is large enough, a player or team can turn interviews down at their leisure: their own product will often bring similar results. Teams’ own blogs and video series are a dangerous competition: if they really feel like going through the trouble, they can create their own similar product, and much of the community will not notice either way.
This kind of becomes a Catch-22, as the roles reverse to “normal” when you look at the Challenger scene. Players who normally don’t get talked to need the exposure; however, the traffic comparison from the finished product makes doing sustained, for-profit work in this areas a bit difficult.
This is why you will often see interviews with “good talkers” repeatedly; publishers want to make money off content, and if there’s a choice between an interview that will hit the front page of Reddit and stay there for 12 hours and something that will barely crack the top 50, there will be a strong leaning towards the former every time.
It’s hard to come up with a solution to this until a publication comes along that the teams view as valuable to talk to and can afford to shrug off the good traffic days that these people can bring.
It cannot be an extension of Riot or each team’s PR, and it must have a dedication to growing the scene. It also needs to be able to pay journalists in order to keep their loyalty and reward good work; before that, it either needs to have enough investment to provide that initial budget, or generate enough of its own to sustain itself.
That horse might have already left the barn, though: for all I know, this hypothetical publication will make its money with insufferable memes in order to fund the “real” journalism, just like Buzzfeed does.
For now, the community can do what I’ve always said they should: support independent journalists and publications and look at what you watch or read critically. What’s trying to be “sold” here? Are their answers genuine, or PR-friendly? If all else fails, ask what I call the “Batman question”: “Who benefits?”
Be smart consumers, and reward those who take you seriously. They will reward you back many times over in return.
Matt Demers is a Toronto writer who hopes to make a living out of his passions. You can follow him on Twitter, Twitch.tv, YouTube and Facebook. If you’d like to read or watch more in-depth eSports coverage, consider donating to help with associated costs.

The Game of Needs

The weird relationship between eSports teams and the journalists that cover them.

The fundamental purpose of journalism is to both serve the public and give voices to those who may not have a voice. The latter point is why many bands, artists, businesses or people on the street make a big deal out of being on TV news or in newspapers: they get exposure from the experience, and their product gets moved out to a larger audience.

However, the key point here is their agenda is being filtered through the journalist and his/her editors, who may ask inconvenient questions or portray people as they are, not how they want to be seen; this is the difference between a news story and a press release.

This became relevant to League of Legends when I read about Duncan “Thorin” Shields’ recent troubles, as one of his Grilled series of interviews was promptly spiked by Counter Logic Gaming. The team has a policy to review interviews before they’re published, and they ultimately have the final word; I’ve gone through this process myself when I talked to Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, their new coach.

Emphasis mine:

When I edited and uploaded the interview the CLG manager informed me that, after watching it, it could not be released, at all. He felt it reflected poorly on the brands of CLG and Doublelift. There was no discussion allowed, or debate.
[…] With that said, it’s also pretty likely I will never be able to interview CLG members again, assuming this policy remains in place. Now that I know what is possible I won’t ever consent to work under those terms again, nobody will edit or veto any of my content.

This actually isn’t that unusual; especially in the cases of interviewing musicians, the band’s manager is looking out for the best interests of the people in his charge. However, what usually makes uncomfortable content a little bit more negotiable is the clout of the publication; many up-and-comers (hell, even big players) would not turn down a chance to be in Pitchfork, Rolling Stone or GQ.

At the moment, though, League of Legends journalists do not have that benefit; Shields’ Grilled series is probably the closest thing to it.


This is because most League teams (at least, the more popular ones) have a follower count and fanbase that dwarfs that of the people that are interviewing them. This creates an awkward situation where the journalists are put in a place of needing the teams more than the teams need them; traffic fuels dollars and community, and enough of both means they can keep working.

Shields is kind of a unique case, as Grilled will often frontpage on Reddit on virtue of being Grilled. Without the ability to talk to people who League of Legends fans are interested in hearing from, though, the potential for traffic and new followers shrinks.

In this case alone, the four key CLG Twitter accounts who would be providing exposure for this story (DoubleLift, Kelby, HotshotGG and CLGaming) could bring in 200,000+ potential eyeballs if all were to retweet; that is not including Facebook or their sponsor’s accounts, either.

I can say from my own personal experience that I know which teams or players will get the piece (and my work) more exposure than others. It is these players/teams’ that determine who become successful figures, and they realize that.

Also, if their fan base is large enough, a player or team can turn interviews down at their leisure: their own product will often bring similar results. Teams’ own blogs and video series are a dangerous competition: if they really feel like going through the trouble, they can create their own similar product, and much of the community will not notice either way.


This kind of becomes a Catch-22, as the roles reverse to “normal” when you look at the Challenger scene. Players who normally don’t get talked to need the exposure; however, the traffic comparison from the finished product makes doing sustained, for-profit work in this areas a bit difficult.

This is why you will often see interviews with “good talkers” repeatedly; publishers want to make money off content, and if there’s a choice between an interview that will hit the front page of Reddit and stay there for 12 hours and something that will barely crack the top 50, there will be a strong leaning towards the former every time.

It’s hard to come up with a solution to this until a publication comes along that the teams view as valuable to talk to and can afford to shrug off the good traffic days that these people can bring.

It cannot be an extension of Riot or each team’s PR, and it must have a dedication to growing the scene. It also needs to be able to pay journalists in order to keep their loyalty and reward good work; before that, it either needs to have enough investment to provide that initial budget, or generate enough of its own to sustain itself.

That horse might have already left the barn, though: for all I know, this hypothetical publication will make its money with insufferable memes in order to fund the “real” journalism, just like Buzzfeed does.


For now, the community can do what I’ve always said they should: support independent journalists and publications and look at what you watch or read critically. What’s trying to be “sold” here? Are their answers genuine, or PR-friendly? If all else fails, ask what I call the “Batman question”: “Who benefits?”

Be smart consumers, and reward those who take you seriously. They will reward you back many times over in return.


Matt Demers is a Toronto writer who hopes to make a living out of his passions. You can follow him on TwitterTwitch.tvYouTube and Facebook. If you’d like to read or watch more in-depth eSports coverage, consider donating to help with associated costs.