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After a year away from esports, it felt really good to sit down and watch the LCS this week. It was a good reminder that League of Legends Worlds really is a different beast altogether from the regular season, and not necessarily in a bad way. While Worlds 2022 was a high water mark for professional League of Legends, there's something to be said for the weekly presentation of the North American LCS. And while normally watching it would be accompanied by the impending sense of dread that we'll flounder on any international stage, instead, I found myself experiencing something else last night: fun. 

New League of Legends Arena, New Us

Okay, so technically, it's the same arena. But the newly branded Riot Games Arena has gotten a major upgrade. Most notably, the new stage looks sleek, modern, and really adds to the production. It's an upgrade that's long overdue, as the LCS arena had begun to really show its age in recent seasons.

On top of that, having the casters actually inside the arena was a welcome change, but it's also a double-edged sword. If that arena isn't filled to capacity, the quiet can be really noticeable behind the casters. In addition, some enterprising individuals may take the opportunity to make themselves part of the broadcast, so to speak, as happened a couple of times on opening day. 

The LoL Content Shift

I'm not going to say that every joke landed or that every segment was a winner. But the League of Legends 2023 LCS shifting to running a content segment in between every match actually went over pretty well. QTCinderella's cooking show with Spica stood out to me as being pretty funny and it highlighted her abilities as an entertainer. 

It was the first day, so naturally, they'll be feeling out what works and what doesn't. As the season goes on, these should become more refined as fan-favorite segments return and the ones that flop are sent to the void. What I like most about these segments, however, leads me to my last point.

When Did The LoL Players Get So Entertaining?

Maybe it was just that Riot has tried to keep the players on a short leash as they project an air of professionalism, or maybe it was just us waiting for the right crop of players to come along, but I cannot recall a year where the LCS has had so much personality. It's refreshing to see the players come out with some trash talk, some ribbing, and just generally hyping up themselves and the league.

As someone who has worked in the esports space since 2015, I'll be the first to tell you that esports athletes (outside of the FGC) aren't often known for their camera presence. But the rise of players like Fudge and Jojopyun have really begun to challenge that narrative. 

Like so many things, there are two sides to it, however. In week one, it's funny and refreshing and entertaining. But if we get destroyed at MSI, it'll be accompanied by an air of "just win something" come summertime. 

Overall, Opening Day for LCS 2023 was a huge success, and Riot should be pleased. There were a lot of questions surrounding the change in start times and moving to the weekdays, but viewership appeared strong, hovering between 65-85k live viewers on Twitch. That may trail off as the season wears off and the excitement of opening day fades, but it's a good start.