Ahead of Team Dignitas’ second series of NA LCS Week 8 against Team EnVy, AD Carry Benjamin “LOD” deMunck’s pre-roll interview was broadcast to the thousands of viewers tuned in for the prospective Dignitas victory. Typically the Riot-conducted interviews are notably family friendly, but as LOD shared his thoughts on the NV lineup, he didn’t hold back as he buried Top laner Shin “Seraph” Wu-Yeong.
The North American League of Legends Championship Series is no stranger to strong opinions and players exchanging harsh opinions. With players like Yilliang “DoubleLift” Peng now infamous for their trash talk, the argument can certainly be made that the additional spice adds flavour to the match ups on the rift. Certainly from a traditional sporting perspective, the concept of trash talking is commonplace throughout most major sports, deemed acceptable within certain boundaries.
The predicament of League of Legends eSports is that trash talk directly contradicts many of the morals outlined by Riot Games’ ‘Summoners Code’. With many NA LCS fans following the eSports scene in a vacuum from traditional sports, trash talking is often branded as ‘disrespectful’; sensitive to seeing their favourite personalities embarrassed, certain fan groups are known to respond negatively towards the outspoken player.
This predicament makes drawing a distinction between fun trash talk that improves a match, and disrespectful ‘hate speech’, extremely difficult. In most circumstances, winning after trash talking is a sure fire means of validating any comments; if you can’t back up your harsh words with your actions on the rift, you will inevitably end up with egg on your face:
“So their bot lane and their Jungle are their biggest strengths, it seems like their top lane is pretty bad.
“I think Seraph is trash.
“And then Ninja – he can be good but he throws games a lot – it almost feels like, vs EnVy, you can give them a lead and you’ll probably still win because they’ll mess it up.”
Benjamin “LOD” deMunck
After roasting Seraph prior to their clash on stage, Team Dignitas cleanly disposed of Team EnVy, as the roster continued their end of split resurgence. LOD’s spicy comments come just a month after the teams’ previous meeting, ahead of which Seraph recorded his own trash talking video. It’s important to note than Seraph and LOD both used to represent the NV organisation, so there may well be some bad blood between the pair:
“I’m 100% sure our bot lane is gonna crush theirs.
“I know theirs sucks, so I’m not worried about that.”
Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong
Putting the question of whether the trash talker wins or not aside, the concept needs to be accepted into the professional League of Legends scene. Provided it is kept under control and doesn’t become a frenzy of unfounded insults, it would certainly add some additional excitement to the competition heading into playoffs.
South Korea’s old OGN format created a segment dedicated to trash talk before games, providing fantastic narrative backdrops to the exciting action on the rift. Perhaps sensitive western fans aren’t ready to have their beloved players belittled just yet?
Whilst the NA LCS plays host to a number of divisive personalities, too many professional players fade into the background without the opportunity to let their character come through. It is only when these figures are allowed to express themselves honestly that they build an authentic rapport with the audience.