League of Legends and The Simpsons converged last weekend when the hit animated TV show crossed over into the world of esports in a new episode fittingly called "E My Sports." Bart played a game called “Conflict of Enemies” that looked a whole lot like League of Legends, and for many viewers, this was probably their first taste of esports. Other characters filled roles commonly found in esports such as the remaining players that round out a team, the coaches that guide them, and the announcers that tell everyone what’s going on in hectic fights.
When creating the episode, The Simpsons’ team actually worked with Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, to accurately portray esports while meshing it with The Simpsons’ style. We spoke to The Simpsons co-executive producer Rob LaZebnik and Whalen Rozelle, the co-head of esports at Riot Games, to learn more about how the episode came to be. Rozelle said it was the team behind The Simpsons who approached the developer and asked them to assist with the episode, something Riot was happy to do after many people from the developer grew up with The Simpsons.
“The Simpsons originally came to us with this collaboration opportunity and we were excited to work together,” Rozelle told ComicBook. “Many of us grew up on The Simpsons and were really happy to see League of Legends esports integrated into such an iconic show.”
Those involved with The Simpsons were similarly aware of League of Legends and other games like it. The Simpsons director Rob Oliver and others on the show’s staff “know a ton about League of Legends” and other massive online battle arenas (MOBAs), according to LaZebnik, and used that prior knowledge to bridge the gap between the two mediums.
“There was a lot of thought about how to show esports in our show’s style,” LaZebnik said. “It had to bridge the gap between what looks like a League of Legends-style game, while also fitting The Simpsons universe.”
To give The Simpsons’ team better insight into League of Legends and the esports scene, Rozelle said Riot Gams reviewed the episode’s script and helped ensure the proper language was being used. Anyone who plays or watches games like League of Legends will know that there’s essentially a whole new language to learn when following along with the games. Rozelle said Riot invited The Simpsons’ team to a professional match and into a North American team’s training facility, and LaZebnik even brought back some of the esports world with him.
“We also invited them to an LCS match at our esports arena so they could experience competitive play and arranged for them to tour the Team Liquid training facility to really see what life is like for our esports athletes,” Rozelle said. “Rob tells us that he brought back thundersticks to The Simpsons work room but ‘they were quickly banned.’”
When asked what Riot hoped viewers would take away from the episode about esports, Rozelle said the goal was to make the episode accessible to those who were unfamiliar with the scene.
“We hope that people who watch this episode of The Simpsons are interested in learning more about League of Legends Esports and gaming culture as a whole,” Rozelle said. “Our esports athletes train, practice and study in similar ways to traditional athletes, and I think people are starting to realize just how challenging it is to compete at the professional level. More importantly, fans of our esport care about the competition, teams and pros just as much as any fan from a traditional sport. The community is so vibrant, from esports fans and cosplayers to streamers and even League inspired cooking enthusiasts, our esport, just like traditional sports, is so much more than just a game.”
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