Professional gamer explains why League of Legends has nothing to fear from DOTA

We sat down with professional gamer Carlos Rodriguez, aka Ocelote, to discuss the differences between the upcoming Dota 2, Blizzard DOTA, and League of Legends, his current MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) and profession of choice.

League of Legends, developed by Riot Games and inspired by the Warcraft III Defense of the Ancients (DotA) game mod, has rocketed to success since its release in late 2009. Running mostly unopposed up until now, League of Legends is set to face steep competition from Blizzard Entertainment’s Blizzard DOTA, and Valve’s Dota 2, by the creator of the original mod.

The 21-year-old Rodriguez hails from Madrid, Spain, where he acts as the captain of the professional gaming team, SK Gaming. Pro-gaming and e-sports have become a viable profession for many young gamers lately, and it’s practically the national pastime in Korea, where StarCraft players are on par with famous US athletes.

GamesBeat: So you’re the captain of SK Gaming — what does that mean to the layman?

Carlos Rodriguez: Okay, so… I didn’t say, one day, okay, I’m the captain, this is how it is. The people on the team choose that. When you like someone, how he’s the leader of something, how he manages the staff, how he talks to people… Then you automatically make him the leader, you know? It’s not like he said, “I want to be the leader.”

GamesBeat: What are your responsibilities as captain?

Rodriguez: Mainly, in-game calls and stuff are being done between some people on the team, so it’s not like me. In-game, inside and stuff, it’s not me. It’s all about, like when we go to a tournament, like before the games, we talk and stuff, and I tell them this or that. Or talking about organizations, they know I’ve got contacts, they know how I deal with them. Outside the game stuff. I’m the captain for that, basically.

GamesBeat: Do you focus on more than one game, or just one right now?

Rodriguez: Right now I’m focusing only on League of Legends, because… We’ve got so many tournaments going on pretty soon. We’re going to have, I think, 13 tournaments in less than eight months. It’s crazy, around the world. I definitely want to be at the very top level, so right now I’m just investing my time in League of Legends.

GamesBeat: Don’t want to spread yourself too thin?

Rodriguez: Yeah, exactly.

GamesBeat: What is it about League of Legends? Why is that your one game?

Rodriguez: I was playing Warcraft like four years ago, I was actually competing for SK as well. I ended up… I went to BlizzCon, I went to so many important tournaments. And I ended up thinking the game wasn’t good enough to become an e-sport. I disappeared, basically. So then I was just waiting for a new game to appear, a new e-sports game to appear, and League of Legends just appeared. I saw potential in the game, I started playing it, and it actually became just about the biggest game in the world right now. There’s nothing bigger in terms of PC or whatever. The most-played game out there. I feel like it has so much potential still. I think that for at least five, six more years, League of Legends will remain as the most-played game in the world.

GamesBeat: So you don’t expect any serious competition from Dota 2, or Blizzard DOTA?

Rodriguez: I don’t think so. When Diablo III comes, when Dota 2 comes or whatever, it’s like… People will keep playing this game, because… It’s funny. It’s like, going into a casual game, then going into a really serious game. What happens, there’s been so much money invested into the e-sports part of this game, the money’s everything, so the game is going to be an e-sport no matter what. So many companies are investing money into it, that’s the thing. League of Legends is going to remain.

GamesBeat: What is it about the gameplay of League of Legends that you think is the secret ingredient?

Rodriguez: I think it’s the team spirit, the team play. But there are so many factors together. I feel like, if you are good enough, if your game is good enough… If you get matched up against a good team, okay, if you play good enough, play the perfect game, the perfect score, you can carry the game alone. But at the same time, if the opening team is losing in terms of kills, they can still come back and win the game with good team play, with teamwork. It’s a bunch of things together that make the game very enjoyable for a pro player.

GamesBeat: But aren’t those all things that Heroes of Newerth or Blizzard DOTA would also have?

Rodriguez: I don’t know… The thing is, I played all off them. Well, I didn’t play the Blizzard game, I didn’t play that, but… I think all of them are kind of the same, okay? They are probably more skilled, probably, I’m not going to lie to you. But for the viewer, it’s not as entertaining.

GamesBeat: You think League of Legends is a little more accessible, a little more casual?

Rodriguez: Yeah, basically. If you go out to a convention, to a tournament, you can see how people watching CS matches… There’s a crowd gathered, it’s fine. Then you see StarCraft II, people are hyped as well. Then you see a Dota 2 tournament, and people don’t even realize what’s going on. But then you see a League of Legends matchup, and you actually enjoy the game, even though you don’t know anything about it. You see something is happening, both teams are fighting, there are towers around, so much stuff going on. You enjoy it.

GamesBeat: How long is the average match?

Rodriguez: Between 25 and 35 minutes, I would say. Sometimes 20, sometimes it’s 45 or 50 even.

GamesBeat: Do you feel like 30 and beyond gets a little too long for the average…?

Rodriguez: It depends, because those kinds of games that go on too much, are the kinds of games that everyone wants to watch, because they’re so funny. The shoutcasters end up without any voice, because they’re doing all that yelling. Those kinds of matches are so even, a match that goes on for 50 minutes is going to be pretty even stuff. That’s why it’s so enjoyable.

Carlos attended this week’s CES 2012 in Las Vegas, representing Super Micro Computers and their lineup of gaming-enabled workstations. You can read more in our exclusive interview.