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Australian e-sports gamers hit the big time at League of Legends World Championship

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson, September 17, 2017 5:27PM News Corp Australia

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Members of the LG Dire Wolves team which turned professional this year. media_cameraMembers of the LG Dire Wolves team which turned professional this year.

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Australia is hitting the big time in e-sports, with a crack team of players becoming the first in Oceania* to compete in the League of Legends World Championship this month.

The five Australian men, playing as the LG Dire Wolves, gave up their jobs to train full-time in professional video gaming this year, and have become the first Australian team to qualify for the competition.

Team manager Nathan Mott said the win could be a breakthrough for e-sports in Australia, as the team’s matches would be seen by thousands of people in Chinese stadiums but watched by millions more online.

The LG Dire Wolves celebrate their victory in the Oceanic Pro League grand final. media_cameraThe LG Dire Wolves celebrate their victory in the Oceanic Pro League grand final.

The championship attracted an online audience of more than 43 million people last year, including 14.7 million watching at one time.

At an event like this, play is shown on jumbo computer screens for spectators to follow along with.

The Bird's Nest stadium. Picture: iStock media_cameraThe Bird’s Nest stadium. Picture: iStock

Professional video game tournaments are already big business and are expected to grow much bigger.

“The world championship grand final is played in the Bird’s Nest (stadium) in Beijing in front of 90,000 people so if you make it there that is a game-changer and that will change all of our players’ lives,” Mr Mott said.

“There’s a lot of work needed to get there but we’re confident thanks to the support we’ve had this year that we’ll definitely make it.”

The LG Dire Wolves went professional this year, training in a dedicated “gaming house” in inner-city Sydney, competing against nations including Turkey and Russia in a Brazil contest, and holding a bootcamp in South Korea.

Team captain Mitchell Shaw said the players treated training “like a full-time job” with structured 12-hour training days, a coach, and activities designed to help the team’s mental and physical endurance.

LG Dire Wolves training. media_cameraLG Dire Wolves training.

“E-sports is different to normal sports,” he said.
“In normal sport you focus more on physical attributes*, while in League of Legends you focus on mental attributes. We pretty much train, gym, eat healthy, take care of ourselves, and it’s really paid off this year.”

The team will fly to South Korea for a second bootcamp this week to train against the world’s best players before their first championship game on September 23.

An e-sports tournament. Picture: AFP media_cameraAn e-sports tournament. Picture: AFP

LG Electronics Australia marketing manager Russ Prendergast said the team would become a pioneer for Australian e-sports athletes, as the league had been “the best kept secret ever”.

Research firm Newzoo recently found e-sports would generate $696 million in revenue* this year — more than the AFL and NRL competitions in Australia — and that number would skyrocket to $1.4 billion by 2020.

“In 2015, with the championships in the United States, the prize pool alone was $17 million,” Mr Prendergast said.

“These are unheard of numbers within traditional sports. This year, for me, is really the starting point for Australia where we’re now starting to gain some momentum*.”

Twenty-four teams will compete in the League of Legends World Championships across China this year, kicking off on Saturday, September 3.

GLOSSARY

  • Oceania: geographic region including islands in the Pacific and Australian
  • attributes: qualities
  • momentum: pace

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. E-sports
Answer these questions: 

  • What is the League of Legends?
  • Who are the LG Dire Wolves?
  • What event have they been training for?
  • Where are the championships taking place?
  • How can people watch this event?
  • How much money do e-sports generate now?
  • How much are they likely to generate in the future?
  • What does Oceania refer to?
  • What is the Bird’s Nest?

Extension: Cheer them on!
The LG Dire Wolves are the first team to represent Oceania in an event like this.
Imagine you were able to go to China and support them.

Create a banner or sign to show your support for the Dire Wolves.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete that activity
Curriculum links: English, Digital Technologies

Similarities and differences
How does training for an online game such as League of Legends compare to training for a more traditional sport?
Draw a Venn diagram to show the similarities and differences between the training styles.

Extension
Why do you think going to the gym, eating a healthy diet and taking care of you are equally important for e-sport competitors?

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Digital Technologies, Health and Physical Education

VCOP ACTIVITY
Open it!
Say as many sentences as you can in a minute. Play with a partner or time yourself.

How to play:
Ask your partner to choose an opener. You must then complete a sentence using that opener. Continue until your time is up.

Examples of openers: The, my, first, then, next, so, but, another thing, at last.

Extension
How many sentences can you say in one minute about e-sports?
Can you say a sentence for each opener that is listed above?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP

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