I’m a big Esports fan. I like video games in general. Not only because they are fun, but also because they can get quite competitive. Because of this, watching professional competitive video games has really become one of my favorite activities. My favorite game (and also probably the most successful Esport to date) is League of Legends. The game is going strong for its eleventh year, and hype is building up for the international World Championship in winter of 2021. After two years of Chinese dominance, in 2020 a Korean team finally sat upon the throne and claimed the title of the world’s best League of Legends team. Now I am really excited to see if Damwon, the champion of 2020, can form a new Korean dynasty, or if the Chinese will rise again from the ashes to retake what was theirs. All this got me thinking. Europe and America sure haven’t won a title in a while, have they?
Sure, the first ever „Worlds“ trophy was won by a European team. But back then the game wasn’t really developed much outside Europe and the USA. Since then, not a single Western team has won the title. And that was eleven years ago. We have come close though. A European team made it to the finals in both 2018 and 2019, but they were quickly beaten three-to-zero by their Asian superiors. This Eastern dominance can be observed throughout all other Esports, too. Though, for League of Legends it appears to be the worst.
As far back as the days of Starcraft – one of the first really big hits in the Esports scene – the dominant players almost always appeared to be from Asia. Joona Sotala being the only non-Korean player to ever win the Starcraft world championship. He is a European. A very similar situation can be observed in League of Legends. There, we had a six year long cycle of Korean teams winning the world championship. Only for that cycle to be broken by another Eastern team, but this time from China. The narrative for all Esports remains largely the same. Asian teams claim the titles, with the occasional European upset. But we still have to ask ourselves, what makes our neighbors to the East so dominant, what makes North American teams the worst and what makes European teams play second fiddle?
We don’t have to look very deep. We just have to take a look at our cultures. I think it’s undeniable that people in the West have grown a bit too comfortable and lazy. We have everything we need and more. Some might say we have too much freedom. But that can’t be all. At the end of the day, South Korea is also a democracy, where people enjoy freedom. So that can’t be it. Maybe I lied, the problem does go deeper – into history. Respect for one’s elders and obedience, selflessness and sacrifice have always been Asian virtues. In the USA, authorities have become more and more distrusted, old people are being disrespected, greed and selfishness are a symptom of hyper-capitalism. To believe that prominent figures and teachers of poor character don’t influence a nation’s culture would be naïve. And sadly, that’s exactly what is happening in the US. People are so into the idea of individual liberty, that they can’t give up anything. They don’t even give up their leisure time for anything. Even now, during the Corona pandemic, people don’t want to put a mask on for, like, 10 minutes while they shop. This also reflects on their performances in Esports. If players aren’t willing to take the responsibility and give up time in order to chase a dream, they won’t succeed. Because of this, it’s no wonder that League of Legends pros from the US aren’t as motivated, or that they don’t expect to win internationally. And yet, they don’t change anything in their habits. Because of their culture. Asian pros, on the other hand, dedicate everything to their passion and they start young. While we could say that children have to be left free, we cannot deny that leaving your children with no responsibilities hurts their development. That’s why Asian pros are the best.
Europe is a different case. We’re an in between-type-deal. Cultures here have grown much more accepting to change and freedom, yet we don’t get too reckless with it. We dedicate ourselves to what we love, but we don’t become zealous, because we have learned our lesson from our history. However, governments and public figures are starting to be more willing to turn a blind eye to stupidity. More and more, people are becoming arrogant and obsessed with themselves. People don’t want to wear masks because it goes against their individual freedoms. But they forget – sometimes it’s not about „me“, but „us“. This is reflected in our gameplay at Esports tournaments as well. Players get obsessed with themselves, forgetting the bigger picture. Unlike the North Americans however, our pros sacrifice their leisure for success. Because of this, we are second best.
We have to start looking at all sectors of life. The culture war with China’s dictatorship is neither imaginary, nor faraway. It’s right at our doorstep. And our biggest Western allies aren’t in the process of losing. They’ve already lost. The USA has „lost“ in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, they „lost“ in construction, they „lost“ in government, they „lost“ in culture and they lost in LoL. When I say Western culture is deteriorating, I stand wrong. It has been deteriorating for longer than my lifetime. The US has become so obsessed with correctness and individual freedoms, that it has dismantled and split its culture apart. Europe is very much on it’s own right now and we are also in danger. These ideologies are sailing across the ocean and finding safe harbor on our shores. And very few people are taking action. We have to harden and learn from our Eastern competitors. We have to integrate parts of Eastern cultures into our own. That is the only way for us to not fall behind. The only way for us to not „lose“. For us to stop playing second fiddle. For us to win a World Championship.
Momchil Tzekov, 11a