League of Legends

Meteos explains why League will "never" be like 'real-life' sports

by Andrew Amos
Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

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100 Thieves’ star jungler William ‘Meteos’ Hartman might be considered one of esports’ longest-standing pros, but he won’t be drawing comparisons to his own career with traditional sporting stars, suggesting League of Legends will “never” be like football or other sports.

Meteos is a household name in League, with the 100T jungler making it to Worlds numerous times, and hoisting plenty of LCS titles with Cloud9 in the process.

However, his craft in League draws very little comparison to the rise of other sporting stars, or so the player believes.

Meteos on stage with Ryoma and Stunt in LCS 2020
Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games
Meteos rejoined 100 Thieves in 2020, helping lead in a new era for the organization.

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In an interview with James ‘Dash’ Patterson, Meteos said that while League has some similarities, the game’s constantly evolving nature means that it’ll never be akin to other sports.

“Something that’s always so interesting to me about League is that the game is completely un-figured out,” he said.

“A lot of people in the esports scene like to make parallels to traditional sports and esports and I think to some degree there are parallels, but there’s a lot where it’s not as well.”

The two drew comparisons to American football, a sporting institution in the backyard of the LCS for decades. While the game has evolved slightly over its lifespan, core mechanics have remained the same.

For mobile readers, the related segment starts at 24:19

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3juNeGKkeI

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League of Legends has changed wildly in the last ten years, and everyone is still trying to figure out the optimal way of playing. From double top lane metas of years gone by, to utilising the jungle and bringing new champions to new roles, League is a constantly evolving puzzle.

With “decades of film” to analyze and play off, football is a ‘solved’ game according to Meteos, and that’s only helped by the fact that rule changes don’t change core mechanics like game patches do.

“Football isn’t patched every two weeks, where there’s different positions getting thrown in,” said Meteos. “If you’re a running back, [it’s easy to figure out what] you need to do. The running back has a similar job [every game] but compared to League, it’s a lot harder.”

The coaching philosophy behind League of Legends isn’t helping young ⁠— or experienced ⁠— players break into the top-flight.

Meteos playing LCS for Cloud9
Riot Games
League has evolved since Meteos started his pro career with Cloud9, and is one of the biggest differences between LoL and traditional sports.

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Many coaches in the past, according to Meteos, have had a very closed mindset on how to coach League, choosing to focus on individual things rather than broad tropes that apply to every game.

“I think a big fallacy is that people think what happened is the only thing that could have happened in that situation,” he said. “You figure out what you can do to prevent that thing from happening, but it’s not a complete understanding of the game.”

Watching years of footage won’t solve that in League either. There’s no amount of learning a player can make to solve the game entirely and write out a manual. However, in the same vein, with League being an unsolved puzzle, it draws Meteos into improving himself year on year.

“A big part for me is trying to figure out all the options ⁠— like going, in this game state, these are the options each team has,” he said.

Meteos playing for 100 Thieves in the LCS in 2018
Riot Games
Meteos' "curiosity" has made him stick with League for years.

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On top of that, just watching League isn’t enough. You can watch the same football plays over and over to convert it to muscle memory, but there’s some things you can only learn in League by playing it.

“If I’m someone who’s watched every single competitive League game, I still think there’s a plethora of content we’d not be able to understand because when you are watching from the outside,” he added.

He praised his own coach, Anthony ‘Zikz’ Gray, for being one of the coaches to break the mold, alongside former Cloud9 coach Bok ‘Reapered’ Han-gyu.

Zikz coaching TSM in 2019
Riot Games
Zikz was praised by Meteos as one of NA's best League coaches.

While Zikz was never a former pro player, he understands the game from the same level as his players, says Meteos, and realises that watching and playing are two separate crafts.

100 Thieves and Meteos will be looking to improve on their 3-5 start to the LCS season in week five with games against Team SoloMid and Golden Guardians.