Are you prepared to LOL?
Here's what I know about you people: You really don't give a fuck about eSports. Or at least, you're not interested in reading about it or hearing about it or having folks like me write about it. And I think I know why. eSports are meant to be experienced, not rehashed. They're about the immediacy of the moment, the violent and torrid enthusiasm of a narrow escape, an indomitable streak, a I-just-made-you-look-like-a-god-damn-asshole maneuver. You don't care about who wins or losses or how they played the game (unless, of course, there's something you can learn to better your own).
That puts me in a bit of a pickle. See, Riot Games is holding its first-annual League of Legends All-Stars tournament in Shanghai this weekend, and the company's flying me out to cover it. The tournament is being billed as something akin to the MLB All-Star break, where players from various pro teams have been fan-voted onto regional teams. Representing the great US of North America will be Doublelift, Scarra, Saintvicious, Xspecial, and Dyrus. Birth names, one and all. Go watch the tournament on Twitch, you'll have a good time.
That said, if you'd also like to know what's happening outside the gameplay in Shanghai, hang out in this article right here, as I'll be your eyes and ears on the ground, pumping back as many photos and anecdotes as my jet-lagged self can wrangle. Oh and hey, if you've got questions, let me know in the comments, and I'll track down answers. But until this tournie goes into full production, let me tell you about the time I applied for a journalist visa to go to China...
I'm businessfolk, for real
It wasn't until I applied for a Chinese visa that I truly grasped the absurdity in the term "video game journalist." Now, when you fill out a visa application, the Chinese consulate asks you whether you're a tourist, a businessman, or a journalist. For tourists and businessfolk, you get a rubber stamp and a "try not to pick up any prostitute diseases!" And for the record, Riot absolutely advised its media friends to tick the businessfolk box.
But me, I overthink it. I mean, I'm heading to this event, ostensibly in a journalistic capacity, as an employee of a media company, and the last thing I want is to misrepresent myself to the PRC and risk being detained in a cement compound five miles underground (possible!). So I check the journalist box, and go up to the visa officer when my number's called, and I'm suffocating the voice of reason as I hand over my paper work, and then:
"You are journalist?" "Sort of, I write about video games?" "OK, it says here you are journalist. I need signed affidavits of your activities while in China. I need this from you, from your company, from your sponsor in China. These documents must detail exactly your intentions and areas of coverage, and..." "Whoa no. No, no. Entertainer! Ha, ha! I write about video games. Nothing serious. For a magazine!" (A magazine? Really, Tom?) Never before had I so quickly repudiated my claim to the journalistic way, but whatever. I'm now businessfolk headed to China.