rAge 2012: Inside League of Legends and the NGL

It’s Sunday at rAge 2012 which means the competitive gaming tournaments are drawing to a close. As you’re probably aware, the NAG Gaming League is running just a single tournament this year: the culmination of this season’s League of Legends league where a single team will take the glory of being the top LOL team in the country. But why League of Legends? We chatted with one of the NGL’s admins, Marnewicke “Switch19″ Loubser to dig into the brief history of the league and his drive to make it the largest gaming community in SA.

Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2 tend to be fast paced and if you get ahead you tend to win the game,” said Switch19 when we asked him about his choice of game. “League of Legends is all about the turnaround, all about the team fights and team play. In Dota and HON one player can destroy the game. League of Legends is about the five man effort; if you’re not playing as a team you will not win the game. And I think that’s what a lot of people enjoy; you can be a mediocre player and have some good guys around you and still enjoy the game.”

Switch19 started the local LOL community with the inception of the LOLinSA website in March 2011. What began as a way to get his LOL-playing friends to come together in a single place has since turned into a community with almost 1,200 members including 50 registered clans and a number of singles. They even have the game’s developers Riot Games interested and sponsoring the occasional tournament, but as Switch19 says, it’s challenging for even their top-level clans to gain the recognition needed to compete in the international eSports scene.

That doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of good competition, however. Switch19 estimates that LOL is the fastest growing game at the moment and feels that the local community could be the biggest in the country if they can just manage to bring the splinter groups together and continue their current rate of growth. Thankfully, the community is friendly and supportive enough to allow that growth; new players don’t have to deal with the abuse that often comes with playing online.

“The nice thing about the South African community is that everybody knows you,” said Switch19. “We have a dedicated server sponsored by Wage. Most of the clans are on there; you speak to them on a day-to-day basis. That’s what makes it nice. Nobody rages. Online [in random games] you still get it, but within the clans there’s no bad blood and everyone is quite friendly.”

And the growth we’ve already seen from last year’s NGL at rAge proves that more competitive clans are interested in this game. 15 clans are competing this year, up from the five from last year. From here, Switch19 told us that he and the other NGL admins making an active effort to get the top teams into an international tournament, perhaps the ESL, but that will have to wait for the future.

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