LCS Summer broadcast issues still unresolved

The 2020 League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Summer Season began on June 12. Its opening day broadcast featured its new Friday Night League (FNL) format: a rework of the Monday Night League initiative introduced in the Spring season.

The LCS described its intentions with Friday Night League as such:

“Similar to Monday Night League, Friday Night League will have a distinct tone and style and will be broadcast in both 2020 Summer and 2021 Spring. Friday Night League will continue to be hosted by LeTigress and will serve as the test kitchen for new segments and content.”

The public reaction to the Summer Split’s opening weekend was largely negative from fans and pundits. Much of the criticism focused on the opening FNL day.

friday night league lcs

© LCS / LoL Esports

Pundits backfire

Numerous pundits weighed in detailing their criticisms of the broadcast production. Many threads on Reddit were created criticizing the LCS broadcast and filled with negative comments from fans.

Common points were:

  • The stream overlay
  • The technical bugs and glitches during desk segments and matches
  • The “relaxed” tone of the FNL broadcast clashing with the suit-and-tie reserved tone of the rest of the LCS
  • The inclusion of segments such as a “freestyle rap” by Gabriella “LeTigress” Devia-Allen and Stefan “TheSushiDragon” Li

Doublelift Criticizes LCS Broadcast

Yiliang Peter “Doublelift” Peng publicly lambasted the LCS on Twitter. Given that he is a legend in North American LoL, and has won the most LCS titles of any player, his opinion does have alot of weight around the community.

Doublelift said in a tweet:

“It’s actually impressive how it was possible for someone to make every wrong decision and make LCS worse to watch.”

He followed up in a Twitter thread:

If the broadcast is consistently making mistakes with the overlay, showing the wrong Fiddle build, wrong replay, cringe “freestyle” rap, and then it ends with SushiDragon, it feels like a clown show. In another context showing niche content at the end of the show would be great Ovilee has 10x better understanding of what’s funny/entertaining than the boomer running LCS which is prob why she’s not on broadcast this split.

Doublelift is referencing the departure of Ovilee May from the LCS broadcast prior to the start of the Summer season. Ovilee was a popular figure in the North American League of Legends (LoL) scene. She was most known for her pre and post-match interviews on the LCS broadcast and third-party content creation. In particular, she specialized in memes and internet humor.

Her announcement on social media had many notable industry figures leaving replies of support. The LCS has provided no official explanation or reasoning for her departure. Other players echoed Doublelift’s sentiment on social media.

Riot Admits to Broadcast Mistakes

Riot Games released a blog article addressing criticisms. They stated that “they recognize that [they] missed the mark on what [fans] expect from the LCS broadcast, from both a creative cohesion and technical POV.”

Additionally, they pledge to improve on technical problems such as audio issues and screen flickering. They also promised to improve the overlay in matches, both in visual design and in proper updating of information. Finally, they would work to improve the tonal integration of FNL with the rest of the broadcast. This would be done through technical improvements, visual design changes, and better coordination with the on-screen talent. Riot also admitted that they had not properly integrated TheSushiDragon into the broadcast and instead would rework his segment into a post-FNL aftershow to end the broadcast.

Previously, many criticized TheSushiDragon’s abrupt segment during the LCS broadcast as awkward and out-of-place.

Progress Made and Progress Left to Go

The LCS has improved since its troubled opening week. The overlay has been reworked to be more visually pleasing and better update information. The skits and disruptive segments have been reworked, reorganized, or removed. FNL has a more muted presence in line with the rest of the LCS broadcast compared to its kaleidoscopic debut.

There remains much room left to go. The LCS has only delayed its issues, not fixed them. The general tonal shift of FNL seems to mimic the loose, fun atmosphere of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) broadcast. The LEC far exceeded the viewership numbers of its North American counterpart in the previous Spring split.

The third-week decision to remove TheSushiDragon from the broadcast altogether is very telling. The LCS seems to have no set strategy or long-term plan for its creative direction. Removing TheSushiDragon entirely was only a response to public criticism it seems. The LCS had no ideas how to integrate him into their broadcast beyond just giving him a time slot. When that failed to garner the public reaction the LCS wanted, the LCS had no other ideas on how to rework their approach.

The LCS mimics or borrows elements from other popular productions (such as TheSushiDragon or the LEC) while simultaneously losing the people best suited to integrate those elements into its own broadcast (such as Ovilee May).

A creative director who has a secure position from which they can commit to a broadcast personality is definitely needed. Its current reactionary “grab-bag of ideas” approach has no long-term direction or goal to work towards. It is only alienating its own audience and turning away potential newcomer viewers.

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