League Needs a Late Night Show But Not the One I’ve Seen Yesterday
Critiques, thoughts, and the quest to make eSports consumable by older generations.
It’s only fair that with the growing of eSports’ reach more and more content is produced using tools and media of the canonical broadcasts. ELeague by Turner is exactly what I’m looking at when I say so. Though as I sat through the first episode of Late Night League, and Tilted subsequently, I noticed several issues that prevented me from enjoying it as much as I was hoping for. I’m no one to say whether it was successful or not. That is something Yahoo! eSports’ division will have to decide. However if there’s anything I’ve learned by passively watching streams on Twitch is that when the chat reaches the point of highlighting how cringeworthy several moments are, well, there’s really something wrong going on.
It’s hard to expect anything more than this from the pilot espisode. As I imagine people behind the scenes being much more concerned about hiccups of technological nature rather than script-related. It’s still a very new format (and environment) for the personalities involved. Which is why, as someone who has literally no entitlement to judgement, I feel like writing what I’d like to see done differently or just better. I know I’ll end up by sounding too rude at times. But please keep in mind that it’s likely just a feeling you’ll get due to the lack of expressiveness I have.
Hosting is hard
I’m no stranger to Mark Zimmerman’s work. In fact, I was aware of his existence much earlier than many people due to his ties with Team Liquid (it was Curse at the time). He’s knowledgeable and gets his point straight to the spectator when it comes to analyze team fights and compositions. He does it with inhuman clarity, too. And on the revamped analyst desk of the NA LCS he’s great. However, when you look at his supposedly weekly The Blame Game, you can already see why he would not be good for hosting such a show.
I’m Italian and we don’t have anything close to what used to be the Late Show with David Letterman. There’s no Jimmy Fallon here, so my perception of these broadcasts might be somewhat distorted. My point is another though. And it’s that if that is what a late night show’s supposed to be I can single out at least a few flaws that make Mark a nowhere near suitable candidate to be sitting at that desk. Too harsh, I know, but I can’t help myself.
He isn’t enough charismatic for instance. Moreover, he simply can’t delve into moments of stupidity without making it feel forced and artificial. He’s simply too intelligent for this and I suspect he knows it. Other problems I managed to catch are easily fixable and I’m sure they’ll eventually fade away. They revolve around being natural in front of cameras while being the main focus. A position which most of the people won’t be able to handle as well as he already did in not even a million years.
Why isn’t he sitting where Travis Gafford has been put though? Mark is clearly the voice of the reason in the duo while Travis’ goofy nature would’ve been best spent asking the questions. Hell, isn’t this what he does for a living?
But really, how bad was it?
Not bad at all if I have to be honest. But it could’ve been much better.
I came to the conclusion that you can literally measure the enjoyment of a broadcast on Twitch by the number of Kappas and PogChamps that get typed. This means that there’s a problem when the most of them are spammed almost uncontrollably during the advertisement break. To be fair the ads were hilarious. But when you’re supposedly following a show and at the same time actively looking forward to the ads you can definitely question the quality of entertainment you’re receiving.
Late Night League felt way too much scripted. Perhaps this is due to Mark’s inexperience. Though even Travis struggled with keeping the discussion authentic while sticking to a clearly rehearsed structure.
What I found to be even worse (yep, I’m being rude again) is that on the other hand there was Kobe who seemed legitimately confused at times. The two hosts knew exactly how everything would’ve gone down from the beginning to the end. Whereas their guest seemed completely unprepared in regards to the topics that were about to be discussed.
Then there’s been the game. The moment when the show reached its lowest point in my opinion. Blind Pick was supposed to be a fun intermission where both Kobe and Mark had to guess the champion they had been assigned by asking each other five questions that could’ve received only yes or no as an answer.
Spoiler alert: it went horribly wrong. None of them managed to stick to the rules and when even the main host can’t seem to follow a few simple directions things are inevitably going to crumble. You could feel that they needed it to be short because of self-imposed time constraints. Which is the issue that ultimately brings me to the last point I’m willing to make.
You do not end a show that way. It was abrupt and I feel like this is mainly a production’s fault. Rushing things isn’t good for anyone and it’s obviously detrimental to the show’s quality. Running late has always been a part of live traditional television. So if you want to create something that’s willing to replicate a format used in traditional media you need to keep everything intact. Including both the good and the bad aspects.
All is well, but please I need it to be better
Was an average of a little less than 2,500 viewers expected? How come haven’t I seen it more advertised around the main news sources for League of Legends? I understand that Twitter is a powerful tool but if you exclude contacting main competitors I’m sure it wouldn’t have hurt to ask a few influential personalities to spread the word. This isn’t a podcast. And as a fully fledged traditional show, I feel like it requires more exposure.
It’s the first of its kind if you don’t consider Prime Time League. Which means that turning it into a success is likely going to attract even more eyes and hears towards LoL and eSports in general. The industry is still in the process of being recognized as legitimate by outsiders. So I feel like an underwhelming result achieved by a well established company such as Yahoo! may end up by hindering its growth.