Last Weekend the playoffs of the EU LCS took place in the barclaycard Arena in Hamburg. I was invited by Lagardere Sports and watched the whole event from the Box. Lagardere, a new player to the eSports scene, sponsors, among other teams, the Unicorns of Love. Coming from the traditional sports sector, they are now exploring the new possibilities the eSports scene holds.
On saturday I arrived in Hamburg to watch the games for the 3rd place. I got off at the subway stop to the arena and joined the many people headed there. A football game took place in the arena next door, so the crowd heading towards the two arenas were an interesting mix of people.
Splitting at a fork in the road, the mass seperated into football fans and young gaming enthusiasts. I kept on following the gamers and the nearer we got to the arena, the faster the pace seemed to become.
When we finally arrived, the mass spilled into the courtyard of the massive building. We went to the back to another entrance, where I was led into the box. From up there, I had an amazing view over the arena.
The match for the 3rd place began. Misfits showed up strong. At the start of the first game they were evenly matched with Fnatic, even invading the jungle of Fnatic and robbing them of precious experience, gold and the red buff. But as the game progressed, Fnatic took over and dominated, shutting down Misfits and winning the game in the end. What followed was a 3:0 wipe.
The next day the mood was very different. The Unicorns of Love as the underdogs definitely had the upper hand in the popular vote. Romain the manager, dressed as a dark unicorn, was rallying the crowd, having invented a dance, miming out the letters “U O L”.
The mascot from G2 shortly faced off against Romain, then the game began. It was more one-sided than people wanted it to be and the victories of G2 were politely acknowledged. Random chants for the unicorns started again and again and when the unicorns were able to strike back, the crowd went wild. Still, the unicorns lost the first two games.
The third game started similar to the previous games. Fighting on the same level for most of the game, the unicorns finally hit back in the end-game and bringing G2 to the ground. In 39 minutes they were able to will down G2, fighting hard and clawing their way to victory. The arena was raging with joy. The whole arena joined the chant “U O L” and Romain was dancing the letters many times over.
The fourth game started the same way that all three previous games started. G2 dominated but the hopes were high for a turnaround, just like in the 3rd game. Unfortunately there wasn’t.
The end of the spring split finals was quite sobering. A lot of people wished for a closer series of games but in the end, the series was dominated by G2. They fought well and showed us interesting picks. They outmaneuvered their opponents with skill and finesse. This victory was well deserved.
Leaving the arena, I met a fan. He was 15 and told me a bit about himself. Saving all of his pocket money to afford a one night stay at a hotel, the bus ticket from Berlin to Hamburg and the entrance tickets. He traveled to another city all by himself to meet friends he made while playing League but has never seen before in real life. I asked him why he did it and his answer was: ”This is what gamers do, right? Commiting to the experience.”