ZAM talks to Tom "Optimus Tom" Searfoss about the December MLG League Of Legends programming
With the Pre-Season well underway and Season 3 within sight, teams are looking toward qualifying for the Season Three Championship Series.
Major League Gaming is hosting online qualifiers that will give three teams the opportunity to win an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the Season 3 qualifiers.
On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm ET, Tom “Optimus Tom” Searfoss will host a match between two up and coming teams in the North American scene. They will face each other in a single elimination best of three match up, to advance closer to the top three spots and the highly coveted all-expense paid trips.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8pm, ET Optimus Tom also hosts the MLG Prizefights, that see the worlds biggest and best teams fight for a winner-take-all $1,000 top prize.
To give us a preview for the upcoming League of Legends action, we were fortunate to get Tom to take time from his busy schedule for a brief Q&A.
ZAM: The changes of Season 3 have finally hit us; we have new items, a reworked jungle and much more.
Optimus Tom: The changes to Season 3 are absolutely massive! Riot hasn't done an overhaul to their game like this ever, even the pre-Season 2 changes were not this large scale. Every role you can play has gotten tons of reworks through items and costs being changed around, new runes and masteries to play with, and even increases in gold gain as the game marches on. It's an overwhelming change as long term League of Legends player - heck even myself as a caster doesn't know everything we've been given now! But that's what makes it all the more exciting! Trying out unorthodox strategies in the game is one of my favorite things to do, and this patch encourages experimentation! Actually, that might just be my excuse to play Viktor a lot more.
ZAM: How will the Season 3 changes affect this tournament? Will we be seeing new rising stars who have adapted faster or will the predictable names grace the top spots?
Optimus Tom: It's going to make a huge impact on not only who we see in this tournament, but also how the games get played out. These lesser known teams haven't had to play on the Shadow Isles or Kha'Zix patch for multiple LAN events like a lot of the pro level teams have had to do in the past month, so they have potentially had a chance to play around with and solidify what they think are the "best builds" for their qualifier runs. We've already seen huge AD carry champions carrying games on their shoulders into the late off the back of new items such as Black Cleaver and Mercurial Scimitar. Support champions are coming into lane full of active and consumable items and coming out in these end game fights with a plethora of click-to-use items to use in harmony with team engages and disengages. Wards are so much easier for any role who has extra money and a need for HP to buy, and jockeying for position and map control is becoming increasingly more important even at this high level of play thanks to nerfs to items like Oracle's Elixir which no longer lasts the entire length of a game. Not only are all these changes in place, but the winds of change are blowing across the game, especially in the North American server. We came out of the Season 2 Finals with the weakest performance, and from our North American Regionals only 6 teams still exist. 3 of them are already solidified for a Season 3 run, but that leaves 5 spots for these up and coming teams to really make a name for themselves. With this kind of tournament, we're watching League of Legends mature and evolve right in front of our eyes, and giving us a spectacular preview of what Season 3 has in store for eager Summoners.
ZAM: How important are these qualifiers for lesser known teams that perhaps didn’t prove themselves in other tournaments but have the ability?
Optimus Tom: This kind of tournament is extremely valuable for the lesser known teams. 3 of the top teams get the qualifier spot out of the 32 that entered, so it's a very rewarding system. Winning 3 matches has you in the semi-finals just 1 win away from a trip to LA to prove your worth against the names like Curse, Fear, and Dynamic. Teams of former pro team players and solo queue warriors alike get a shot to take not only each other down, but established names that also have to fight for their hopes and dreams such as ex-Quantic on the road to glory. It makes for some of the most exciting games we've seen on this patch to date.
ZAM: With some big names like Absolute Legends falling early in this tournament (and some lesser known names performing well), is this a sign that the North American scene's competition is tightening?
Optimus Tom: Every tournament has their few "favorites" to win, but who doesn't love an underdog story? This entire tournament has the potential to be one giant underdog story! Absolute Legends ran into a tough draw playing against another heavy favorite in ex-Quantic before the round of 8 even started, which speaks volumes of not only the level of competition, but how many teams are still fighting for their Season 3 lives in North America. Teams with household names thanks to TSM online tournaments such as Pulse eSports ended up falling to teams led by former pro team players such as Lautemortis' "She Said She Was Level 18" whom no one may have known until last night. As we narrow down to the top 4 prospects, we skim over the brackets and see less and less familiar names moving across them, and that's the most exciting thing to see as a caster. Fresh teams, new players, and a whole slew of questions to be answered to see if they have what it takes to be one of the best North America has to offer.
ZAM: With MLG hosting a high end Season 3 competition, from some very talented teams, is this a great place for players to come to watch how the pros are adapting to the changes we are all facing?
Optimus Tom: Absolutely! Season 3 isn't just a huge change for professional League of Legends, it's a massive reboot that everyone gets the pleasure of playing with. At MLG, not only do you get the chance to see the up and coming teams duke it out with the well thought out builds and play style, but the MLG Prizefights between tournament matches let you take a look at what the already established names are doing with the new patch changes. Who better to learn the changes from than your favorite players, or up and coming super stars? Is the new Jungle really that difficult, or can we farm it like Saintvicious used to do? Are snowball top laners like Akali going to come back, and if so how many Voyboy montages will I see in highlight reels? Will Scarra keep playing Ryze, and how do I build the way he is? Myself and Chobra are there to help you guys dissect these builds and pick the player's minds to not only give you an idea of what is going on in the game, but to help you conquer your own foes on the Fields of Justice. If there was ever a time to get hyped as a League of Legends fan and player, that time is now.
Tune in for all your League Of Legends action at www.majorleaguegaming.com - This week includes:
League of Legends: MLG Prizefights – Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8pm ET
Each broadcast features two top teams facing off in a Best of 3 series with the 1st place team receiving $1000. Commentary provided by Tom “Optimus Tom” Searfoss and special guests.
League of Legends: Championship Series Season 3 Online Qualifying Tournament – Regularly at 8pm ET
32 teams (North American teams that did not attend 2012 NA regionals) compete for three all expenses paid trips to compete LIVE at Riot’s Season 3 Qualifier in Los Angeles from January 9-13 where they will battle for five spots in Season 3.