The importance of quality hardware for eSports players cannot be understated. In fantasy MOBA League of Legends, your equipment acts as your only means by which to control your chosen hero’s direction, movements and use of abilities, as well as facilitating communication between you and the rest of your team. Subsequently, even just one mouse sensor that does not possess enough sensitivity, or a monitor with noticeable lag, can topple an entire team into defeat. Therefore, it is no wonder that LoL pros consider carefully which brands and models of equipment to invest in.
Travis Hezel of SteelSeries agrees that pros are “looking for the best possible performance out of their product, so that way nothing’s holding them back when they’re playing their game of choice”. However, it is not up to only professional LoL eSports players to select equipment for themselves; often, the entire team will use the same equipment. Here we consider the equipment used by a selection of LoL eSports teams, as well as the variations in hardware that do occur within them, and why.
The Fnatic franchise has its own brand of gaming hardware, comprising of mouse, mousepad, keyboard and headset. All LoL team members utilize the Rush Pro Gaming Keyboard, with MX backlit cherry switches, along with five preset profiles, detachable wrist rest and five-star reviews.
Priced at $95.55, the cherry switches allow players to gain high control and response.
An emphasis of this keyboard’s design is on texture, with a soft rubber coating.
All team members use the Duel Modular Gaming Headset developed in partnership with AIAIAI. Yet the mouses and mousepads used by Fnatic vary. While the majority of the team – Rasmus “Caps” Winther, Jesse “Jesiz” Le, Finlay “Quaye” Stewart, Paul “Soaz” Boyer, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen, and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson – use the Flick G1 Mouse, only Johan “Klaj” Olsson opts for the Clutch Optical Gaming Mouse.
Although sharing identical resolution (5,000 CPI), tracking speed (130 IPS), maximum acceleration (30G), memory (256kB), and Pixart 3310 optical sensor, the difference between these mice lies in their shape: the Flick G1 has a length of 126mm and height of 40mm, whereas the Clutch G1 is 130mm long and 43mm high. Furthermore, the latter weighs 26g more than the Flick G1, at 116g to the Flick’s 90g; the shape is also different, with the Flick favoring a more symmetrical design. Therefore, the primary difference is one of ergonomics.
Despite Fnatic having its own brand of gaming hardware, many eSports teams partner with technology corporations in order to devise new equipment suitable for eSports. A recent development from Immortals, a North American team initiated in 2015, is the announcement of their partnership with OMEN by HP on June 13th 2017. OMEN’s attributes including leading thermal technology and the plan is to combine “Immortals’ expertise in competitive gaming, and OMEN by HP’s unrivaled pedigree in technology”.
OMEN are now the supplier of hardware to the Immortals for use in training for eSports competitions, including the North American LoL regional qualifier on August 19th 2017, which Immortals will be attending after placing first against CLG in the NA LCS, with the aim of progressing to the third seed of the League of Legends World Championship taking place from September 23rd to November 4th, for which online bookmakers are already taking odds.
In fact, such is the reach of eSports nowadays, that even mainstream, traditional sports bookies are offering eSports markets, with competitions such as the LCS Summer Splits featuring alongside NBA, baseball and tennis markets on major bookmaker websites, and teams such as Immortals have contributed greatly to this.
Like Immortals, SK Telecom1 uses hardware not branded by their team (instead, it is the brand of the company that owns their team, Razer) and, like Fnatic, one player chose to wield a different piece of equipment than the rest of his team: star LoL player, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.
One important gadget in eSports teams’ arsenal are headsets. Although the entire team uses Razer headsets, Faker opted to employ the Razer Tiamat Over Ear 2.2, as opposed to the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma. Why? Since the Tiamat was released in 2012, two years prior to the Kraken’s release in 2014, it is likely that while the rest of the team arguably upgraded (the Kraken has higher sensitivity, at -40dB on microphone and 112dB on headphone, compared to the Tiamat’s -36dB microphone and 109dB headphone), Faker felt most comfortable with the model he was accustomed to. Faker claims that when he plays, “I’m not thinking, I’m just acting”; to do so it is important to have no distractions from unfamiliar hardware.
It is certain that the unceasing pursuit of gaming excellence will continue to be exhibited through not only the skill of the players but also of those creating the hardware for them.