Recently, Riot has announced that they will be moving their League of Legends NA game servers from Portland, OR to Chicago, IL. Riot states that this is the third phase in their efforts to provide a better connection service for their players.
Riot made the decision to move servers to the center of the US, because players in the East Coast have been suffering under significantly increased lag compared to their West Coast brethren. Centralizing the servers will provide a much more evenly distributed connection throughout North America.
Obviously, this change will make some people a little upset and many people very happy. More interestingly, I think this development may give rise to some possibly significant changes to the demographics that make up LoL’s player base.
For those who aren’t aware, LoL’s competitive player base can be broken up into two categories: the basic ranked ladder, and the professional and semi-professional scene that has become one of the forerunners for the rise of e-sports. I think that both categories could see some interesting changes coming off the back of a more evenly connected continent.
With East Coast players suddenly experiencing less lag and far smoother gameplay, it shouldn’t be too farfetched to say that some of them will find themselves climbing up the ranked ladder much more easily than they had previously. The same can be said for those living in the middle of the continent, since they will also get a significant ping decrease. Conversely, some West Coast players may start having a slightly harder time making the kind of plays that they’ve grown used to. Overall, this balancing should generate much fairer, and therefore more competitive, ranked games.
With more players overall being able to perform at better conditions, we should be able to expect a gradual skill increase throughout nearly the entire NA player base. The history of League of Legends has demonstrated that as more people come into the game, the general standard for how skilled the average player should be gets higher.
If more people start getting better in the general ranked ladder, it should come to no one’s surprise that more people start to edge closer and closer to that much-coveted pro status. Basically, I think it shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine that the server move may result in the rise of new and exciting up-and-comers for League of Legend’s pro and semi-pro scene, possibly expanding things like the NA CS and LCS more rapidly than ever.
All of this is, of course, mostly speculation. It may just as likely be that no real significant changes other than an overall quality of life buff for the majority of the continent occur. Still, I like to hope that within the next couple years, we’ll start seeing a ton of new faces and team logos on the LCS.
I also really hope that this means we might get a World Finals in Chicago. As a resident of the Midwest, I will be hard-pressed to find something more exciting than that.