Back in the early days of League of Legends, the landscape was extremely different. While esports existed in Korea with Starcraft 2, nothing like this really existed in the West. Major League Gaming was the first shot at competitive gaming in the West, as, at the time, console gaming was at its peak. MLG’s original idea was to make a competitive league for console-specific games, such as the Halo and Gears of War franchises. Competitive gaming existed outside of MLG, but MLG was important because it was the first time the idea of esports was brought to a broader audience, due to its target audience being console gamers.
To put this into perspective, popularity of PC gaming increased more than 5,000 percent from 2005 to 2012. Gaming in general has increased dramatically in the past decade, and console gaming is still extremely popular, but PC gaming has increased six times as much as consoles have.
While Korea had famous players such as Lim “BoxeR” Yo-Hwan, who created gaming teams such as SK Telecom T1, which has giant sponsors, nothing like that existed in the West. Popular teams in Western esports were usually created by the players, not having any sponsors.This is due to the fact that esports was in its infancy when League was first released. League was really the game that propelled esports into the mainstream in the West.
With that, here’s a look the seven of the most influential players in League of Legends from Season 2 and earlier. Who made your list? Let us know in the comments section.
7. TheOddOne-solidifying jungling and standardizing jungle rune/mastery setups
In the earliest days of League, the idea of having a dedicated jungler was debatable. In Season 1, the jungle monsters were difficult to kill, and the viability of which champions could actually kill the monsters was small. Eventually, the jungle would change, but the strategy of having a dedicated jungler would be set in stone thanks to early innovators, most notablyBrian “TheOddOne” Wyllie. While TheOddOne wasn’t the first to create the idea of jungling, a lot of players that would become famous as junglers later on would say that his plethora of guides on SoloMid.net helped them understand the basics of the role. While rune and mastery setups are trivial nowadays, they were actually very important when solidifying “jungling” as a specific role, which can be attributed to TheOddOne.
6. Scarra-forerunner of the informative stream
T-5. LiQuiD112 and Saintvicious
Team Curse, now Team Liquid, was an early team created by Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet under the Curse branding. Originally, LiQuiD112 was a high-rating support player who eventually became more interested in the management side of gaming rather than playing. He was friends with other top players, and created a team of famous players such as Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco and Cody “Elementz” Sigfusson. Saint and Liquid are paired together because as Liquid was the guy in the background, Saint was the face of the team. Curse was the the prime example of how Seasons 1 and 2 went. Teams were extremely transparent and filled with players that were famous in the community on their own right.
Players’ lives were much more transparent, where Curse even had a 24/7 video live stream (made famous when Saint argued with his teammates). These players made the early days super enjoyable, and a lot of nostalgia comes from these vlogs and streams that were vital to making League so great.
T3. Reginald and Dan Dihn-creation of community guides, and TSM
A lot of players were new to the genre when League was first becoming popular, and they wanted a place to look where they can learn how to play a specific champion. The first popular website dedicated to champion guides was SoloMid.net, created by brothers Andy “Reginald” Dinh and Dan “Dan Dinh” Dinh. At the time, there were two major champion guide site, Solomid.net and Mobafire. SoloMid’s claim to fame came when it started to get guides written by top players.
Like Hotshot, Reginald became one of the most famous players in the game. While not as popular of a streamer as Hotshot, Reginald’s success was mostly due to his website and his team, Team SoloMid, named after his website. While CLG was the most successful team in the earliest days, TSM was the most successful North American team after Season 1 (and has, for the most part, continued that success through present day). With Reginald in the mid lane and Dan as the coach, TSM would dominate Season 2 locally and become the highest seed for North America going into the that year’s World Championship.
Reginald defined what it meant to be an aggressive mid laner, though he would eventually step away from the game after Season 3 World Championship, to work on building the TSM brand. While Dan didn’t have the impact in game as Reginald did, both would work behind the scenes to create the most successful team in North America’s history.
1. Hotshotgg-streaming and creation of CLG
One of the first competitive teams created in League of Legends was CLG, created by none other than George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis. Hotshot started in Dota, then went to Heroes of Newerth, where he was a high MMR player. He later joined League and started streaming. He created CLG as a team to compete in tournaments with its top players (while also playing on it himself). CLG was dynamic in the beginning days of the game, winning World Cyber Games 2010, League of Legends’ first premier tournament. CLG would continue to be a top contender even to this day.
CLG was a major player in the early days of League’s competitive scene, and it was one of the first to become a major Western esports team, spanning out into multiple games. On top of the creation of CLG, Hotshot was the first major streamer for the game. Before the days of Twitch, streamers were on Justin.tv. Hotshot was known as one of the very best players, famous for his top lane Nidalee. A lot of the early success of Justin.tv and now Twitch can be contributed to the early League streamers. League eventually took over as the most popular game in the world, and Hotshot was at the very top. Hotshot took a risk like many other early people dedicated to League: He dropped out of college to compete and create CLG.
We now live in an era where it is normal to see players sponsored by teams such as CLG, Cloud 9, and TSM that span multiple games, like Halo, Counter Strike, and Super Smash Bros. Thanks to the hard work of people like Hotshot, esports has taken a large leap forward.