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Technology US

After years of following pro sports, League of Legends esports leagues are ‘finally free to be ourselves’

For years, competitive gaming has done its best to mimic professional sports, whether it’s players wearing Nike jerseys, big-name celebrity investors, or ambitious plans for home-and-away games. But Chris Greeley, commissioner of the League of Legends Championship Series — the game’s top professional league in North America — believes that esports has moved beyond mimicking existing sports.

“We had this idea in the beginning that, because esports is a sport, and we wanted to be taken seriously, we should look like a sport,” he tells The Verge. “The LCS looked like the NBA on TNT. It was great for validation and for investors and sponsors to look and say ‘Hey, this looks just like a sport, therefore this is an easy translation.’ But we’ve outlived that.”

So starting in 2021, the league is making some big changes, both in terms of how it looks and how it’s structured. “We feel like we’re finally free to be ourselves,” Greeley says.

The most obvious change is visual. The league has a new logo — it’s a crystal made of the letters LCS — and a refreshed graphic design for broadcasts. Whereas the previous logo was a shield that wouldn’t have looked out of place in college football, the new one clearly represents a video game. It follows similar redesigns for the other top League competitions around the world, including Europe, China, and Korea.

(Greeley says the logo has received a mixed reaction from fans so far — which was expected. “People hate change. We’ve seen it from pretty much every esports rebrand,” he says, adding “You don’t want [a logo that] looks like it came off of a can of soup. It has to be resonant.”)

The idea behind the refresh, he says, is to give the LCS its own distinct voice in an increasingly crowded field. “It’s not just about a new color or a new logo, but it really is about how we’re going to follow with our broadcast and our content,” he says. “You’re not going to tune in this week and see a finished product. We’ll be iterating over the next year or two, but I think this is a really great start.”

To go along with this, the LCS is also introducing some major format changes, with a bigger focus on tournaments, including one to kick off the year that starts on January 15th. Previously, the competition closely resembled something like the NFL, with a slate of regular season matches culminating in the playoffs; the best teams then moved on to international competitions. The goal is to find a balance between the thrill of knockout tournaments and the familiarity of regular season play. “Tournaments are exciting,” Greeley explains. “The problem is, if everything is a tournament, if everything is meant to feel exciting, then nothing feels exciting.”

Despite problems caused by the pandemic, the LCS — along with many other esports leagues — experienced tremendous growth in terms of viewership last year. But the league struggled on a competitive level. At the annual League of Legends World Championship, North American teams were far behind the competition and didn’t pose much of a threat to the big clubs from Europe, China, and Korea. Much of the blame was put on the region’s developmental scene. Instead of encouraging up-and-coming local players, many LCS teams relied on aging or imported stars.

The league is hoping to change that with a revamped amateur system, with the goal of opening things up, so that the developmental squads for each LCS team — known as academy teams — are able to play in different tournaments against other amateur and college teams. This will culminate in an end-of-year tournament called LCS Proving Grounds.

According to Greeley, these changes were in the works prior to Worlds — but the feedback was still welcome. “The criticism around the need for NA to make changes to develop players, that actually was satisfying to hear, because I knew this was coming,” he says of the amateur changes. “We hadn’t announced it, it was nearly final at that point, but we were just figuring out how we were going to roll it out. When you’re developing a solution, and then everyone stands up and says ‘We need a solution,’ and it’s done and ready to show, that’s actually a pretty good feeling.”

2021 will also see the league continue to operate remotely. Typically, LCS matches take place in a Los Angeles studio with fans in attendance. That obviously hasn’t been possible during the pandemic, but Greeley says that this could slowly change throughout the year. The first step is to get the broadcast team in the building, and the hope is that by the time playoffs come around, players can be present as well. Viewers, meanwhile, will likely have to stick to watching on Twitch and YouTube.

“We’re not rushing getting fans back into the arena,” Greeley says.

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Technology US

League of Legends: Wild Rift’s open beta comes to North America in March

Fans in North America will be able to play League of Legends on their phones very soon. Today, at a big event detailing what 2021 will look like for League, developer Riot revealed that Wild Rift — the mobile and console version of the game — will launch in open beta in the Americas starting in March. It’s not clear what platforms the beta will be available on, but previous open betas were primarily on Android and iOS.

Additionally, Riot outlined its plans to support Wild Rift throughout the year. That includes regular events like a Lunar New Year festival in February, a ranked season that kicks off in some regions this week, and the addition of around two new characters each month.

The other big reveal from the event relates to Riot’s esports ambitions. League of Legends is arguably the biggest competitive game in the world right now, and Riot is trying to do something similar for its tactical shooter Valorant. So it should come as no surprise that the developer now says it’s looking to build out esports scenes for its trio of League spinoffs: Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and Wild Rift.

Competitive mobile games like Honor of Kings, PUBG Mobile, and Brawl Stars are some of the most popular in the world, so it makes a lot of sense that Riot would try something similar with its smartphone titles, however there aren’t a lot of details on what the scenes will look like just yet.

Meanwhile, the developer also announced that this year’s League of Legends World Championship will be held in Shenzhen, China. Last year’s event took place in Shanghai.

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Sports UK

Sir Alex Ferguson’s most inspirational speeches as told by Man Utd legends

The person who many regard as the greatest football manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, has turned 79 today.

Over a 27-year spell with Manchester United, the legendary Scot won a remarkable 38 trophies, including a record 13 Premier League titles.

Add five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues and Sir Alex’s impact on not only United, but on British football as a whole, is clear to see.

After arriving in 1986, Ferguson built a dynasty that has rarely been seen or replicated in any major sport.

Sir Alex Ferguson won a record 13 Premier League titles at Old Trafford

As well as a trophy cabinet to rival any manager in history, he also played a major part in the development of some of the biggest stars in the modern game, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Paul Scholes all growing under his leadership.

United have failed to win a domestic title since his retirement in 2013, with his legacy still crystal clear at the club.

But not only was he a master tactician and transfer expert, he developed a reputation as one of the best man-managers in the history of the game.

Here’s a list of some of his most memorable and inspiring speeches, as recalled by a select few of his most trusted players.

The emotional Ronaldo chat that made him’the best’

Ferguson has maintained a close personal relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo

Before going on to become one of the greatest players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo was a developing winger under Sir Alex.

In 2005, aged just 20, Ronaldo was informed his father was very ill and he recalled a discussion with Ferguson which cemented his reputation as “the best coach” the Portuguese superstar has ever had.

Speaking to the Jonathan Ross Show in 2015, he said: “In terms of personal stuff I just have to say, ‘Thank you for what you did for me.’

“Especially, I remember, the thing that is in my memory, the time my father was sick in hospital and we were in a tough moment in the season.

“We had important games in the Champions League and league, and I said ‘Coach, I need to go and see my daddy’.

“And I was a key player, a very important player. And he said ‘Listen your family is the most important thing you have in your life.

“If you want to go three days, four days, five days, you can go.’

“This moment is what I keep with me, because it was the most important moment of my life. He shared it with me and this is why I respect him.

“And for me he is the best coach I ever had.”

2008 Champions League Final

Ferguson’s rousing speech inspired Man Utd to their third Champions League title in 2008

One of Ferguson’s biggest regrets is that he only managed to take United to Europe’s pinnacle on two occasions.

The second of those came in 2008, when the Red Devils beat Chelsea on penalties in Moscow.

And Patrice Evra detailed the emotional speech that fired up his players to make history in rainy Russia.

“(He) gave the greatest speech ever,” Evra said. “He didn’t talk football. He said: ‘Imagine Patrice with his 24 brothers and sisters. His parents have to feed them all on a bad street.’

“He talked about Rooney growing up in a tough part of Liverpool. Carlos Tevez coming from Argentina. He talked about difficulties for other players.

“He then said: ‘This is my victory. We have already won the Champions League. Enjoy the game.’ Even now I’m having goosebumps.”

Quietening the ‘Noisy Neighbours’

Ferguson’s final challenge as United boss came when Manchester City, backed by their wealthy owners, rose to the top of English football.

After labelling them the ‘Noisy Neighbours’, under the guidance of Roberto Mancini, City pipped United to the title in 2012, with the most memorable finish of all time.

United’s most recent Premier League crown came in 2013, after he toppled Manchester City

But following that heart-wrenching moment, Rafael recalled the rousing speech that helped them refocus, before ultimately winning the final title of his career in 2013.

“He was so inspiring. When we lost the title to City at Sunderland in 2012, I was 100 per cent convinced we would win it back the next season after everything he said in the dressing,” Rafael said of Ferguson in an interview with The Athletic. “It was just an amazing speech.

“‘You see this, you see what’s happened here today, you remember this feeling, you remember that in every moment of every game next season.’

“It worked.”

And his go-to team talk…

To win the amount of trophies and league titles under Sir Alex, it wasn’t all last minute winners and memorable moments.

On the whole, United dominated their opposition week in and week out, developing a fear factor that beat many teams before the game even kicked off.

Rooney outlined the kind of team talks that Ferguson gave before every match

And United’s record scorer, Wayne Rooney, who won five league titles with Ferguson, detailed the kind of speeches that happened in the corridors of Old Trafford on a weekly basis.

“He was incredible. It wasn’t complicated,” he wrote in his Sunday Times column, earlier this year.

“The big thing was he had trust in people. He trusted his coaches to put sessions on, he trusted his players.

“People always ask how were his team talks – a lot of his team talks were just, ‘You 11 are better than them. Go win the game’.”

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Sports UK

Arsenal legends have given Arteta most damning indication of Gunners’ decline

When Arsenal stormed to the 2003/04 Premier League title without losing a single game, they were English football’s glamour club.

They had already won the double twice under Arsene Wenger, and the only thing that eluded them was Champions League glory.

Even in Europe, they reached the final in 2006, losing out to Barcelona but signalling their ongoing status amongst the best teams in world football.

But, gradually, the Gunners have slipped away to the point where they have now hit rock bottom under Mikel Arteta.

Many consider their current predicament – sitting five points off the relegation zone – as a low point for the famous north London club.

Arsenal are experiencing a dismal spell and are just five points off the relegation zone

And the recent comments of several club legends show anger has turned to apath which sums up how far removed the current side are from the great Arsenal teams of the past.

Speaking on Sky Sports after Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley, Patrice Evra let slip record goalscorer Thierry Henry’s feelings as he claimed he once turned off the TV rather than watch Granit Xhaka lead the side.

“We’re talking about Xhaka, I will tell you a quick story. Thierry Henry one day invited me to his house, he said ‘come Patrice, we’re going to watch the Arsenal game’,” Evra explained.

Patrice Evra let slip what Thierry Henry thinks of his former club, who have declined alarmingly since Arsene Wenger’s departure

“He turned on the TV. The first image we saw on the screen it was Xhaka leading Arsenal, being the captain – Thierry Henry turned off the TV.

“I said ‘What’s happened?’. He said ‘I can’t watch my team and Xhaka being the captain of my team’, and we didn’t watch the game.

“We started talking about many things and he turned off the screen. It tells you everything of what the legends of this club think about him. He again let down his team.”

Henry is far from alone in his feelings of disbelief and frustration at the club.

Emmanuel Petit says “anger has given way to indifference” towards the Gunners in recent months

Emmanuel Petit, who was a key part of the 1997/98 double-winning team, has also moved on to “indifference” to his former club.

“The anger I had has given way to indifference,” he told RMC Sport after their draw with Southampton.

“I try to detach myself from everything as much as possible to avoid losing my head over it… It is a logical response to what has been happening for years now.”

Another former captain, William Gallas, has recently spoken out on the current situation, suggesting the blame lies with manager Mikel Arteta.

William Gallas does not believe Mikel Arteta is the right man to turn things around for the Gunners

Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes , Gallas said last week: “What’s going on at Arsenal? It’s a question I think everybody has asked this season. I don’t know the answer.

“I think maybe the issue at the moment is that Mikel Arteta is not the right manager. For me he doesn’t have that experience to manage a big club.

“I was surprised when he came in, to be honest – even as Pep Guardiola’s assistant – you need experience as a manager to come in to a club like Arsenal.

“You need to know how to manage 24 players. All the pressure is on your shoulders and you make all the decisions.

“Some players will be upset that they aren’t playing and it’s something you need experience in dealing with.”

It is a damning sign of how times have changed at Arsenal that some key members of their greatest sides have lost patience and come detached from the club.

Their comments offer perhaps the biggest reality check yet for Mikel Arteta regarding the huge task on his hands.

Whilst he is well aware of the history of the club from his time as a player, he has a long way to go to restore the Gunners to former glories.

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Sports UK

Man Utd icon Roy Keane names two “brilliant” Leeds legends as toughest he faced

Roy Keane has labelled for Leeds pair David Batty and Gary Speed as two of the toughest opponents he faced.

The former Manchester United captain led the club in an era of dominance and he was not one to turn down a physical battle in the middle of the pitch.

Throughout his Old Trafford career Keane came up against a host of tough opponents.

His rivalry with Patrick Vieira is well documented, but in his earlier days he was up against the likes of Speed and Batty.

Leeds had won the title in 1992, the year before the Premier League was introduced, and remained a top flight side for a further 12 years.

Roy Keane was a dominant presence in midfield

And Keane always knew he was up for a tough afternoon when they took on the Yorkshire side.

“The Premiership years ago, David Batty and these players, Rob Lee would always give you a hard game.” he said.

“Gary Speed god rest his soul. These were brilliant players. Honestly, they’d give you a tough game.

“Gary Speed was a tough player to go up against, and, Gary was pretty nasty, y’know. Batty was nasty.

“I always felt these boys, people always remember me kicking people, a lot of these lads were kicking me – I was just retaliating over the years!”

Gary Speed won a league title at Leeds

Keane scored the winner the last time United beat Leeds in the Premier League back in 2003.

The two teams will renew rivalries this afternoon when Leeds travel to Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw his side beat Yorkshire opposition on Thursday while the Whites put five past Newcastle.

United’s home form is of stark contrast to their excellent away form and Marcelo Bielsa has fond memories of his last trip to Manchester.

The Leeds boss, then in charge of Athletic Bilbao, saw his side upset the odds and win 3-2.

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Technology US

Riot confirms it’s making a League of Legends MMO

League of Legends developer Riot Games is working on a massively multiplayer online (MMO) roleplaying game in the League universe, Riot’s VP of IP and entertainment, Greg Street, tweeted on Thursday.

“My recent job at Riot has been to help develop the League universe, which we’re going to need!” Street said. “My new job is to kick off a big (some might say massive) game that many of you, and many Rioters, have been asking us to create.” If the deliberate use of the word “massive” in that quote wasn’t enough of a hint, in a reply to another Twitter user, Street confirmed the game is an MMO.

The new MMO isn’t entirely surprising, as Riot has been working to expand the League universe into other games and mediums as of late. Riot has released a League-themed card game and an auto-battler. In 2021, the company plans to launch a mobile and console version of the main game, League of Legends: Wild Rift, and a spinoff single-player, turn-based RPG for consoles and PC. An animated series, Arcane, is also scheduled for 2021, and there are two League of Legends board games that further flesh out the lore. Riot appears to be following the same formula as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, the studio even partnered with Marvel for League comic books.

Street worked on World of Warcraft for nearly six years, according to his LinkedIn, so hopefully he can bring some of what has made that game such a hit to this new League MMO.

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Sports UK

Balogun compared to two Premier League legends after impressive Arsenal cameo

Folarin Balogun has been tipped for big things at Arsenal – and club legend Martin Keown is on the bandwagon.

The teenage striker, who was linked with an exit last summer, has made his breakthrough in Mikel Arteta’s side in the Europa League.

He scored his first senior goal just seconds after coming off the bench against Molde a fortnight ago and again impressed on a longer cameo against Dundalk.

Balogun, 19, provided an assist and found the net himself late on with a smart finish as the Gunners ran out 4-2 winners in their final group stage game.

After his latest display, Keown urged fans to “remember the name” and even went as far as to compare him to Gunners legend Ian Wright and former Manchester United icon Andy Cole.

Folarin Balogun was compared to two Premier League legends after impressing Martin Keown

Speaking on BT Sport, Keown said: “I’m looking at him thinking, ‘remember the name’ tonight, really, because of the way he linked up, some great turns.

“You try and compare – is it Andy Cole or is it Ian Wright? There’s that sort of movement about him.

“I know they’re big name players and if he can live up to that he’s going to have some career.

“But I just like the way he’s always looking on the shoulder, his movement, creating space.

Balogun scored his second senior goal in the closing stages

“I was really impressed. The way he scores the goal, the way he comes onto it, he’s pointing, give me it.

“He steps onto it, this is me, this is my moment, I belong here. I like that. He’s had to wait for his opportunity, he’s 19 years of age and already showing good signs.”

After making his debut against Dundalk last month, Balogun said: “Yeah it feels great. It’s a moment I have been waiting for for a little while so to finally get it feels great.

“I can only thanks Mikel and the staff for this opportunity and I look forward to doing it more often.

“It’s been tough, I’ve been at a few other clubs doing trials and stuff like that but I’ve been working my way through the academy and I think as time has gone on I’ve become a better player.

“I think that’s shown in my performances and I think it’s good now to get the recognition that my performances deserve.”

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Headline USA Los Angeles

Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr RESULT: Boxing legends go the distance with fight ending in a draw



Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr show rare flashes of their old brilliance as they go the full eight rounds in a competitive exhibition bout before 54-year-old ‘Iron Mike’ insists: ‘I would absolutely do it again’

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Boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr battled out an entertaining draw in their comeback fight in Los Angeles before the former undisputed heavyweight champion ‘Iron Mike’ said he would ‘absolutely fight again’.

The former superstars both showed flashes of their old brilliance in a competitive exhibition fight with the remote judges failing to split them after the full eight rounds.

Tyson insisted he would be open to fighting again at the age of 54 but Jones Jr appeared more reluctant when asked if he would step back in the ring.

Former heavyweight champion Tyson said: ‘I’m just happy I got this under my belt and I’m going to continue to do more. Absolutely I would do this again. I’m just happy I could go eight rounds. Knockouts mean nothing, you have to be able to go the distance.

‘I wouldn’t fight professionally. I’m about this now, about being a humanitarian and helping people. I’m happy with the draw, I felt I won but I’m happy with the draw and that we entertained people.’

Jones Jr added: ‘It’s hard to say if I would do it again. I took some hard punches from Mike. I was tiring towards the end because of the body shots. We know as boxers that’s what slows someone down.

‘I need to talk to my family, see what they think. Thank you to everybody who sent us out the right way. If everything goes the right way and my family say it’s alright, who knows.’ 

Tyson came firing out of  the blocks in the first round, throwing hooks to the body and head with the intention of doing damage.

The slicker Jones Jr utilised his superior footspeed to evade much of Tyson’s attacks though did take a solid right hand which momentarily unbalanced him.

Jones Jr stuck to boxing and moving, pawing with a jab and then ducking out of range as Tyson continued to march forward and throw wild hooks. 

The fight began to get sloppy in the middle rounds as both men visibly started to tire. Jones landed a few decent shots of his own as he started to let his hands go a bit more in the latter rounds but it was his defensive work which at times was reminiscent of the old Jones.

Tyson showed huge will as he ploughed forward, throwing combinations to the head and body but struggled with the range and speed of Jones. He landed the punch of the fight in the sixth round though when he slipped a jab and countered with a lovely-timed left.

Jones took it well and done a good job of tying Tyson up for the last couple of rounds. When the final bell sounded it was relief from both men who showed great respect to each other by embracing at the end. 

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Sports UK

Mike Tyson draws with Roy Jones Jr as heavyweight legends makes ring return


Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr fought to a draw as the ring legends returned for an exhibition bout.

Tyson dominated for long periods of the bout but three former world champions decided the spoils should be shared.

Tyson took the fight to Jones in the first of eight two-minute rounds.

The small ring was playing into his hands as he switched from head to body while Jones looked to hold.

Both men were breathing heavily after the opening salvo but Tyson continued to look the fresher in the second session as he landed his jab to the head and then followed up with a right hand.

Jones continued to hold on in the third round as he smothered Tyson and prevented him getting his shots off.

The fight resembled a hugging match at times

The fight resembled a hugging contest at times with Tyson the only one looking to land his shots in the fourth session.

Tyson was the sharper in the fifth round as he landed a lovely counter left hook as Jones was left breathless as he headed back to his corner.

The sixth round was instantly forgettable as Jones struggled with his fitness but Tyson was able to land to the body in the penultimate session.

Tyson landed to the body in the final round but Jones clung on to hear the bell.

On the undercard, YouTube star Jake Paul delivered a sickening KO against former NBA star Nate Robinson.

Paul was fighting for the second time as a professional and dropped Robinson with his right hand.

And when he did so for a third time, the former basketball player was left face down on the canvas and in need of lengthy treatment.

Earlier, former two-weight world champion Badou Jack won every round against the tough but outclassed Blake McKernan.

There were also victories for the impressive Jamaine Ortiz who stopped Sulaiman Segawa and for Edward Vasquez who earned a split-decision win over Irvin Gonzalez.





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UAE

Revealed: All the football legends who have been granted UAE gold card visa




Revealed: All the football legends who have been granted UAE gold card visa



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