Players Review: An Enjoyable Spoof For a Limited Audience
Players is the latest TV series from Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda, the creators of the Netflix mockumentary American Vandal. Much like that show, Players is presented in this same format but it instead shifts the focus to the professional gaming scene that surrounds the mega-popular video game League of Legends. And while the same style of humor that was present throughout American Vandal is on display to great effect here with Players, this new Paramount+ series is one that will likely resonate with a much smaller audience.
Players centers around a fictional League of Legends esports team known as Fugitive. The organization has existed for a long period of time and is most well-known for its Support player, Creamcheese, who boasts a big mouth and an even bigger ego. The majority of Players sees Creamcheese trying to learn to work with Organizm, who is a new 17-year-old League of Legends prodigy that Fugitive brings aboard to help establish the company as a more enticing brand. With his career winding down and no championships to speak for, this leads to Creamcheese clashing with Organizm, as the former begins to fear that he's losing control of the team that he helped build.
The best aspect of Players is how legitimately it depicts this world of North American LoL esports. The show is filled with analysts, content creators, and other esports organizations that exist in real life to add a great amount of legitimacy to this mockumentary. Some portions of the series are even filmed on location at the LCS Studios in Los Angeles and much of the music featured throughout stems from Riot Games. It's clear that one of the biggest goals with Players was to represent the pro circuit as it is in real life in every single way. To that end, the attention to detail is impressive. If you're someone who is quite familiar with the League of Legends pro scene, there's quite a bit to like in the series just because of how accurately it's depicted.
Conversely, this is also likely the biggest problem with Players. When compared to American Vandal, Players is a series that is much more tailored for a specific audience. That's not to say that Players is bad by any means, because it's not. The writing and overall presentation are the biggest highlights of Players and the show had me legitimately laughing out loud at some point with each episode.
That being said, the things that I found funniest about Players were largely due in part only to my previous knowledge of League of Legends esports. The comedy in this series is presented in a straightforward, dry manner, which means that many of the punchlines and jokes rely on your own knowledge of what's being talked about. While American Vandal was something that I think most people could sit down and watch to find enjoyment in due to its sheer absurdity, I don't believe that the same can be said for Players. If you're someone who has no history with how professional League of Legends operates, I'm hard-pressed to think that Players will be something that you'll find great hilarity in.
Outside of having a very specific audience, the throughline story in Players is also rather unremarkable. The show doesn't take many interesting steps past its initial plot thrust until the later episodes, which makes the middle portion of the season drag. In fact, I believe that a couple of episodes in the middle of Players could have been cut altogether and it wouldn't have made a huge difference in how the story plays out.
Despite this, it's clear from the jump that Players is a character-focused series that is meant to highlight a number of over-the-top personalities. The show does an excellent job of making fun of many of the real-world people that exist in proximity to League of Legends. Whether that involves loud-mouthed Twitch streamers or business magnates that are merely looking to invest in esports because they think money can be made, it's clear where Players drew much of its inspiration from to poke fun at these elements of the League of Legends scene. And while I think that the show tried to provide a bit too much commentary on too many topics, its satirization is commendable with everything that it explores.
Players is largely a very enjoyable spoof on the world of League of Legends esports. The story might be pretty straightforward and some of the characters are a bit uninteresting, but it's also a show that kept me laughing throughout. Even though Players might have been created for a very specific audience, those who are familiar with League of Legends in nearly any capacity should get a kick out of Perrault and Yacenda's latest project.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Players is set to debut with its first four episodes arriving on Paramount+ later this week on June 16, 2022. The show's first season is 10 episodes and new episodes will be released in a weekly manner following the premiere.