Two of my son’s centerpiece Christmas gifts this year were a detailed Thresh statue and a Pentakill t-shirt. One of my daughter’s favorites was Tibbers the teddy bear. Both kids received $25 American Express cards from their grandfather and immediately spent them on RP. Both have also now started creating their own Champions and writing fan fiction. Yes, League of Legends is taking over my household.
So, thanks to lots of family time over the holidays, I’ve been playing a ton of League and am now level 28. Over this time, I mostly focused on Vi top lane to have her unseat Darius as my main Champion. Truth be told, I still think I’m better at Darius. But I like playing Vi more. With the Riot Rumble on the horizon in January, I was gearing up (ha! pun!) for a whole lot of Vi and her big fists. I even set my laptop’s background to a cool fan-art Vi wallpaper.
Then an interesting thing happened.
See, when my wife plays with me and the kids, we don’t play against other human beings. She’s level 10 and is still learning some of the basic skills of the game. She doesn’t yet have an instinct for when to stay behind minions and when to charge ahead, how to properly amass gold and build items, how to win a team fight, or just generally when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. She’s also pretty uninterested in other game modes, which she finds overwhelming. So we play the standard Summoner’s Rift against “bots,” or the computer AI. To my wife’s credit, we’ve stopped playing against Beginner Bots and now mostly play Intermediate Bots.
Against bots, I don’t find playing Darius or Vi all that fun. My learning curve is flatter. So when my wife is with us, I try out new Champions and new lanes. Over the course of this holiday break, I busted out Sion several times, plus games with Nautilus, Evelyn, Gnar, Amumu, and Nidalee.
And then, as I said, an interesting thing happened. The day after Christmas I tried Fizz, the Tidal Trickster. I’m not sure why I chose him except that he was an Assassin/Fighter combo like Nidalee, but seemingly simpler to play. Against Intermediate Bots, I went 10-1-4, meaning I killed ten enemy Champions, died once, and had four assists. I couldn’t figure out why I had done so well, so I tried him again. 10-4-3. Then again, in an epically long game: 17-7-24. I was baffled. These were better results than any other new Champion I’d tried, by a lot. Either I had just taken a quantum leap in my learning of the game or there was some weird synergy with Fizz that I couldn’t understand.
Curious, I tried a game against Intermediate Bots with Vi. Admittedly we had a tough game and I found myself solo lane against two opposing Champions while my daughter and newbie teammates struggled, so my final stats were muted. Still, I ended at 8-8-10, arguably worse results than I’d been having with Fizz (and yes, yes… I know that these stats aren’t the only—or even the best—measure of how you’ve done in a game. Roll with me here).
It just didn’t make sense to me. I had been playing dozens and dozens of games with Vi, watching online videos of professional players with her, and mimicking pro builds of her Runes, Masteries, and Items (thank you, holiday vacation, for giving me the time for all of this). I should have dominated bots with Vi, even in a game with inexperienced teammates. And yet with Fizz, I’d somehow done crazily well despite few games, no videos, and no pro builds. Huh.
I went online and found a pro build for Fizz, making my own Rune, Mastery, and Item set for him. Then I asked my family to play another game of Intermediate Bots so I could try Fizz again.
The result? 23-2-4.
Whoah. It’s literally all that I could talk about that evening. Fizz? Fizz! What the heck?
The next morning my son actually chose to not play a game of League—which is a first—so that he could sit and watch me. After another amazing game with the Fizzster, we were both amazed. At one point, Jonah asked me, “Why are you going that way? Go back to base! You’re almost dead.” To which I replied, “Nah. I want to pick on Fiddlesticks some more.” And then I proceeded to take down a full-health Fiddlesticks and a tower. After the game, he looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I really want to be as good at a Champion as you are with Fizz. Seriously.”
Let me be clear: Fizz isn’t a member of the X-Men. He’s not cool or intimidating or superheroic. He’s cute, and cartoony, and, you know… fishy. He’s also usually a mid-lane Champion, whereas I’ve almost exclusively played top lane. And yet, wonder of wonders, I think I’m better at him already than I ever was with Darius or Vi. I won my first two 5v5 games trying him, my first ever games against humans mid lane.
My son’s current theory is that, because I’m a Pisces, Fizz sought me out in a karmic-like way and chose me as his Summoner, rather than the other way around. Honestly, it’s better than any theory I currently have as to what happened the day after Christmas.
What’s really great about this turn of events is that I now have three Champions to play competently and without embarrassing myself. Three feels like the right number heading into the Riot Rumble in January, where my favorite Champions might get banned by the opposing team (Despite many Team Builder games, I have not yet played a game of League that involves banning Champions, so yes… still a noob).
Speaking of January, it’s New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year! 2014 was the year I joined Riot Games and integrated my passions with my career. 2015 will almost assuredly be the time when this integration starts bearing fruit. Every week, I’ll keep chiming in here to let you know what’s happening, both with my League journey and the Talent team at Riot Games.
Until next year, then, I leave you with one final thought…