News

Introducing the SKL Community Hub

We at SKL are passionate about games. This is why we started this organization to begin with. We want a place that gamers from all walks of life can gather together, share stories, find new people to play with, and connect on a more lasting level. As such, we are excited to announce the launch of a Community Hub! This site is made by gamers, for gamers. Do you want to find people who play World of Warcraft in the province, or in your city? Or do you want to organize weekly scrimmage nights in Counter Strike? The Community Hub allows you to make groups, chat about games and eSports, and make new friends.

This site isn’t designed for SKL’s content; it’s an extension of WHY we are doing what we do. We want to support the gaming community in this province, and eventually, we hope, the nation. To us, the best way to do that is to connect gamers to other gamers.

Sign up now at community.skleague.ca! It’s free and always will be. Hit up some of the SKL team for a chat, dive into the forums, or organize local LAN parties. This is the place to find local, like minded individuals who share your passion.

GL;HF

SKL is going to the Saskatoon Expo!

Hey everyone! If you have been watching our recent broadcasts, you already know that we have a booth at Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo! Come check us out September 19th-20th at booth 523, right next to the Expo Store as you walk in! We will have some swag to give away and SKL merchandise. On top of that, all weekend long we are running a “King of the Hill” 1v1 hot seat with RP cards for prizes!

Tell your friends, tell your mom, and come out to meet the casters, broadcasters and the whole SKL Admin team! See you on the floor!

GLHF

-SKL Admin Team

The Business of Team Management

So, you want to make a competitive eSports team. Where do you start? How do you run it? Why should you care? These are just some of the questions I would like to try and answer.

Professional eSports teams are ran very similarly to professional sports teams. For the sake of this article, I will be looking at hockey teams as an example because we are in Canada, and that’s what we do. Sports teams are businesses, plain and simple. Their main purpose is to make money. They do that by providing a service, which is entertainment. This means that a successful team is first and foremost, entertaining. In hockey, the most entertaining things to watch are big complex plays, executed by skilled players who can almost dance with the puck. But teams can be successful even if they aren’t the most skilled. This is why the position of enforcer exists, or why butterfly is the most popular goalie stance. People enjoy watching players hurl themselves at other players, creating drama and conflict. It’s entertaining. So how does this translate to your eSports team?

If you treat your team like a business, it’ll help set you up for success later. As you approach the different areas of your team, it needs to be thought of as a business owner. Let’s start with players. Who will they be? If you want to be successful within a league, you need to think skill and entertainment. So you will hold tryouts, treating each tryout as if it’s an interview. What can this person bring to the team? Are they extremely skilled? Do they perform in an entertaining way, perhaps choosing champions or cards that aren’t particularly strong in the meta, but seem to be effective within their playstyle? Are they a team player, someone who can communicate well, compromise and adapt? Do they show leadership or strategic understanding? Do they display creativity, something extremely useful when trying to think “outside the meta” and catching people off guard? All of these attributes come into play for a skilled and entertaining team. Lastly, and arguably the most important attribute you will be looking for, is commitment. Just like any business, your players need to dedicate their time if they want to get hired. What use is an extremely skilled player if they never show up?

This leads us to practices. They need to be scheduled, and regular. Remember, your team is a business, and if you don’t put the work in, the business cannot produce its services. If no one shows up to make the pizza, there is no pizza to be sold. How much your team puts in is what it will get out. Practices are what your team does. Think of practice as the Monday to Friday, with games being the weekly inspection. Your job isn’t to work only the day of the weekly inspection. Your job is to work every day. A hockey team is good, not because of the players, but because of the team as a whole. They gel, they encourage, and they help each other improve. Even single player teams do this. Starcraft teams will share their strats among the team and help point out weaknesses. The idea is that every team member is just as good as the rest, so when a competition comes, if one player hits an unlucky streak, there are still three or four who can keep going. So practice, and practice more. While practicing, experiment. This leads to the next business concept. Meetings.

Yes, you should have meetings. These are your review sessions, where you look at your past games and performances and brainstorm how you and your team can improve. This is also where you talk about upcoming games and teams you may be facing, what research needs to be done, and possible strategies to overcome them. You then take everything you talked about in your meetings, and apply that to your practices. Communication is key in every business. Talk about what you think is working as a team, and what can be worked on. These meetings are also where the business concept of Research and Development comes in. Talk about upcoming patches, how they might affect the meta. What are other teams doing and how is it working for them? Come up with some crazy ideas. Brainstorm about champion comps, item builds, and strategies. Then take all of that and bring it into your practices. Write down the things you want to test, and schedule a practice to do so. This guarantees that you will be trying new things and shaking it up. If it didn’t work, you now carry that knowledge with you. Meetings and communication as a team are just as important as any other aspect. How can a ship sail without an understanding of its surroundings and a plan to overcome them? So, what do you do now that you have this all figured out?

Now that you are confident that you can deliver your product (entertainment) to the masses, how do you go about marketing yourself? A business’s success is based off of three pillars: quality of product, who knows about the product, and how you treat those people. At this point, you should already have quality down by virtue of your practice and players. Marketing can help with the rest. As such, you need to start worrying about branding and image. How the public views you is just as important as the product you are selling. You need to advertise yourself. In sports, the way to do that is similar to any other business. Websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Twitch is obviously a great medium for eSports teams. You want to cultivate a following. This advertising is strengthened by a well-designed brand. A professional logo and website will go a long way to legitimizing your team in the eyes of the masses. Marketing advertises your product to fans. That product is entertainment. These advertising mediums are great, because they also allow you to interact with your fans/customers. Your brand is what customers will attach to. It’s not really the team, it’s the brand. That’s why hockey teams can switch up rosters, coaches, and GMs so much, because people attach to brands. If you take the time to create a strong brand for yourself, your business will have longevity. People will stay loyal to the brand even when the product might start to waver. This also leads us to diversification.

Now that your team and brand are established, and you are delivering your product well, it might be time to expand and diversify your product offering. Look at starting up teams for other games, under the same brand. Coke has Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke etc. Esports teams do the same. TSM has a Heroes of the Storm team, a Counter Strike team, Super Smash Bros. players, and their original LCS team. Not only that, but they also have teams in different leagues. By this point you might be discovering that your business is no longer a team, it’s a brand. Once you have a brand, you can start making the switch from amateur to professional. I’m not talking about skill level, I’m talking about monetization. People want to support the brand by showing people who they root for. Merchandising and other services are now open to you as a brand, which in turn allows you to start paying your players, which will encourage better performances, which will increase the quality of your product, which will help strengthen your brand, which will help you sell more merchandise… I think you see where this is going. Since you treated your team like a business from the get go, the transition from amateur to professional will be relatively smooth. You have been thinking professionally the whole time. From hiring, and possibly having to fire employees. To managing the day to day of your employees, and ensuring your product is delivering. To research and development, meetings, and marketing.

Does this mean that running a team is boring? Absolutely not! Just because the concepts translate appropriately, doesn’t mean it’s not fun. But it does take hard work. Success takes work, dedication, and commitment. Don’t go into it expecting much, unless you and your players are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to be successful. I would absolutely say that you shouldn’t go into it unless you have the passion and drive to push you forward. Passion means you will have fun in your work. And really, isn’t that what this is all about anyways? Having fun?

 

Kadins (@MrRousseaux) owns the marketing and production firm Wide Mouth Media. He is also the current President of SKL. More importantly, he has been gaming since he was old enough to hold a NES controller. Professionally, he has produced and directed hundreds of WHL live broadcasts, contracted marketing services for provincial health districts, and consulted on branding for many companies in South West Saskatchewan. He’s also a total feeder.

The Art of Pick and Ban: Part 1

Chapter 1: YOLO

Here we are, first pick in ranked, “Your turn to Ban” flashing before your eyes. What do you ban? Well the answer to that question doesn’t have to be as complicated as you may think. When we discuss solo queue mentality, you need to set yourself up for success; you need to put yourself in position to carry right from the start. That all starts in the Pick and Ban phase.

Banning is generally the easiest part of this whole process. What’s carrying all the games you’ve been playing lately? What has the highest win rate? What do YOU know? For the sake of this article eventually being outdated, I will preface that this is being written during patch 5.16, the Juggernaut Patch. We still have strong devourer junglers, a wave of carry top laners as we move away from the tank meta, and new juggernaut champions to square it all off. Where do you even start?! Well, what do you understand? Personally, I have played a decent amount of Shyvana, so I know what she is capable of, and I know what her win conditions are. This is an example of something you understand you can play around. Probably won’t ban her. However, I think I’ve played two ARAMS total with Mordekaiser, and that was pre-patch 5.16, meaning it wasn’t even the juggernaut Morde that seems to be rising in both popularity and win rate. I don’t fully understand his damage, what he needs, nor his win conditions. If I don’t understand the champion, then I don’t know how to play around it. Ban. Apply this to the typical flavour of the month champions that pop up due to the pro scene and reworks, and you should find yourself being a little less frustrated now that you won’t have a Mordekaiser hitting level 6 and blowing up your level 4 bot lane.

What to pick is something that’s a little different when you think about solo queue versus when you play a 5v5 with teammates you know (such as in SKL), so it has to be treated very differently. In solo queue, you’re going to want to play whatever you’re comfortable on. If that’s the flavor of the month, so be it. If that’s a top lane Aatrox that no one has seen since EU LCS Spring Split of 2014, so be it. Play what you want to play and don’t let your teammates talk you into a champion that you don’t know just because “it’s OP, dood”. Playing something you know will always be better because you will know that champion’s limits, strengths, weaknesses, and spikes. Solo queue should be about enabling yourself and putting yourself in the carry role. This applies all across the board, whether you’re top, mid, jungle, ADC, or support. Now, some people like to change it up in solo queue and play a ton of different roles, and some people find one champ they have success on and play hundreds of games with it and don’t care what their duo partner says (but TRUST ME CRAFTY BUCKEYE, NAUTILUS WILL CARRY US). That’s completely fine as well. The overall message of picking your champion is to stay true to yourself, by knowing your limits and knowing your strengths.

Stay tuned for Chapter 2, tentatively titled “gg report my noob team”, where I will discuss pick and ban in a more team-based fashion, focusing on pick and ban coordination for 5v5 settings.

All my love,

Feeder Ponnox

Of Brackets, and Mistakes

When we started SKL, we knew that we would have players and teams who had time constraints. As such, we stipulated among ourselves that we would be understanding of this to some extent. During the course of qualifiers, we became more and more lenient on changes to game times. After the fourth change to week two’s brackets, we realized that our lenient policy was affecting the competitive integrity of the league. This is the last thing we want to do. Our seeds and brackets were carefully thought out weeks in advance. By changing them around, we not only confused the players and the fans, but we also affected the competition.

To that end, all brackets have been reset to the original formula. This means that ANY changes that may have occurred have been reverted.

The flip side to this is that we still want to have room for leniency. We understand that since we didn’t have the schedule defined ahead of time, it is hard to commit to games. As such, we want to be able to reschedule games if needed. So, instead of moving around brackets, we have now rescheduled the games within those brackets. Going forward there will be no adjustment to brackets, round robins, or any other games.

That all being said, as of 14:00 SKT, August 27th, 2015, the brackets are now LIVE and FINAL. The only thing that has changed from the original formula has been some rescheduling of games. Please double check BRACKETS and select Week 2 for your complete schedule.

Thank you for your understanding.

Apologies,

Kadins
(Matthew Rousseaux)

 

Farewell to Friends

We would like to announce the departure of two SKL Admins. Dylan “DXI Edge” Edgar and Brook “V Moppy” Wagner.

DXI Edge has been helping out with SKL since the beginning. His numerous contributions include securing major sponsors, helping with advertising, and assisting a great deal in the day-to-day behind the scenes workings of SKL. DXI Edge will continue to contribute by writing articles for our website, but unfortunately will have to stop with the administrative side of things for the sake of competitive integrity. He has left us in the hopes of qualifying for the regular season with his team, Indecision. We wish to thank DXI Edge for all of his help and we wish him the best of luck in the qualifying tournament.

V Moppy has also been helping out with SKL since the beginning, with his major contribution being designing all of the posters that you hopefully have been seeing all over Saskatchewan. He has left to focus more on work, as well as climbing that solo que ladder. SKL thanks V Moppy for all of his talents and efforts. They are greatly appreciated.

Once again, we would like to thank both of these gentleman for their hard work, talents, and contributions to SKLeague. We wish you both the best of luck in the future.

See you on the rift,

Zaramali 😉 (JK) and the SKL Team!

In The News: DaZaninator, Ponnox and Kadins talk SKL

WATCH

Gamers launch provincial e-sports league

REGINA – Saskatchewan is behind the times when it comes to competitive video gaming, but League of Legends enthusiasts are hoping to change that with a new e-sports league.

“In Korea the scene is huge and in China too. In North America it’s getting pretty big,” said Blake Zanidean, one of the people behind SK League.

Organizers have set up a League of Legends tournament, which will feature amateur players, but professional players can make a good living off the sport.

“Some of these players are bringing in more than most hockey players do. It’s very large in most other places except for Canada,” said founder Matthew Rousseaux.

Two years ago, he tried to launch a local league, but it didn’t stick.

“It got about a week into it and then it fell apart,” explained Zanidean. “It just didn’t have the manpower behind it.”

Now, a larger group of volunteers is trying to get the project off the ground once again, hoping sheer numbers change its fate.

“It is an incredibly popular game because it’s technically free to play. Anybody can jump in there and play it with minimal requirements,” said Rousseaux.

Originally, organizers wanted to see eight teams of seven compete in the tournament. To their great surprise, 33 teams and more than 230 players signed up.

“We’ve had quite a bigger turnout than we were expecting. It’s definitely good,” said Zanidean.

Both Zanidean and his friend Bailey Dietrich live in Saskatoon, while Rousseaux lives in Swift Current. Other players are spread out across the province. They are all united by their love of e-games, especially League of Legends.

“The game always remains fresh. They always update it. They always add new things to the game,” said Dietrich.

The players have been honing their League of Legends skills for years, spending countless hours experimenting with different heroes.

“At least an hour a night. But then if I have a lot of free time, it can easily turn into three or four,” said Dietrich. “There’s so much you can do, so much strategy around it. It’s really just a fun game to grab with your friends and play.”

Each game runs between 20 minutes and an hour, depending on the efficiency of the team.

“As a team, you really have to rely on each other. Every person fills a role and you want to destroy the enemy’s base,” Zanidean explained.

Participants are entering the tournament with various levels of experience, all hoping to take home the top prize.

A few teams have even signed up from Alberta, willing to drive to Regina’s Matrix Gaming Centre for playoffs in the fall.

The qualifying tournament starts online Monday. Registration is closed, but playoff games will be streamed online.

Via Global Regina

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