League of Legends’ unsung heroes: The magician of MSI 2023

On October 23, on the Hulu Theatre in New York, DRX have been one recreation away from being eradicated from the 2022 League of Legends World Championship. They began giving out presents to the occasion’s stage supervisor, Sebastian, to thank him for taking good care of the workforce since their first look in Mexico Metropolis. Solely after the MOBA‘s now-premier squad reverse sweeped EDG and eradicated them from the largest League of Legends match of the yr did he notice why they selected that second to thank him.

It might have been the final time Sebastian noticed DRX on-stage, however as a substitute the Korean workforce gained and saved on successful till they lifted the trophy. However Sebastian was not there with them, accompanying the gamers on-stage as he normally does.

Sebastian Leathlean has been the stage supervisor for all of League’s worldwide occasions since 2017, however throughout the Worlds 2022 Finals he couldn’t be there for DRX, a workforce he noticed rising from the play-in stage of the competitors. “I watched DRX lift the trophy from my hotel room with a fever of 103. I cried my eyes out. I did not stop crying the whole time.”

Sebastian had examined optimistic for COVID-19 the day earlier than the Finals, and felt like all of the work he had executed from the beginning of the competitors had been immediately taken away from him – however he got here again to League of Legends’ worldwide stage just a few months later for MSI 2023, and has by no means felt extra happy with his work.

He grew to become a fan-favorite on the Copper Field Enviornment in London because the official hype-man for the viewers, encouraging them to cheer and have enjoyable earlier than matches had even began. “It’s an immense privilege and an honor to serve this community,” Sebastian mentioned, itemizing the explanation why working with Riot as a freelancer nonetheless excites him after seven years. However the journey to turning into Riot’s “energetic little bald guy” put Sebastian by way of hardships and epiphany moments.

There was a time when he slept on the sofas and flooring of mates and labored a number of bar jobs on prime of his manufacturing hours as a way to survive. Years of “acting decline” and “lots of temporary bar jobs” made Sebastian throw within the towel on his performing profession, and noticed him return behind the digicam. However one surprising encounter with Charlie Anderson, who now additionally freelances for Riot as Broadcast Director, modified the trajectory of Sebastian’s profession. “Before that point I didn’t know the existence of a person or job of floor manager, but from that moment, I knew I was born to be one,” Sebastian tells me.

All through his time as Riot’s stage supervisor, Sebastian made the corporate’s values his personal, at all times placing the followers and gamers first and contemplating how he, in his “small part,” could make their expertise the perfect it may be.

However this yr’s MSI was particular to him.

A bald man in front of a crowd wearing headphones forms a heart with his hands as they cheer and hold up signs

Most of Riot’s occasions crew is fashioned of contractors and freelancers from the placement of the competitors, however at its core there may be at all times a global workforce that has the “joy” of going around the globe to carry Riot’s occasions to life. Generally, as in Sebastian’s case, they will achieve this on their “home turf.”

“To be here at home and showing London what this is all about, when League of Legends’ profile isn’t very high in this country as it is in others, is such a privilege,” Sebastian tells me. “So to bring this beautiful show here on our home territory and show this to English fans is just a massive treat for many of us on the crew.”

On the finish of all of it, although, it at all times comes right down to the followers, their expectations, and the way Riot’s crew can defy it. To “defy all haters,” Sebastian and his colleagues meticulously plan the staging and broadcast and have a inflexible schedule to uphold for day by day of the occasion.

A photo of a red wall with MSI 23 written on it with white graffiti

Placing all of his twenty years of broadcast expertise at work into observe, Sebastian has to function on a number of ranges each day. From assembly and acclimatizing the gamers to the surroundings, working alongside the printed and manufacturing workforce to verify the expertise is able to stroll out on the stage, and even cooperating with the artists Riot companions with to make them really feel comfy.

“There can be up to fourteen people holding cameras on that stage, plus ten players, two translators, two coaches, team handlers, managers, and owners before a match – and that’s not counting the broadcast cameras,” Sebastian tells me. Having to stability the wants of each workforce concerned within the occasion whereas realizing the surroundings you’re working in just like the palm of your hand is like conducting a “big beautiful orchestra” for Sebastian.

However that’s simply one of many many delicate duties Sebastian and his workforce wanted to maintain of their “twelve hours minimum” shift, which made him run over twenty-four kilometers every day at this MSI.

Throughout our soul-stirring dialog, Sebastian made positive to focus on how a lot “blood, sweat, and effort” goes into Riot’s occasions and exhibits. The MSI Opening Ceremony is especially bold “considering the budget and people available to make that ambition come to life,” Sebastian commented, earlier than happening to reward the followers for the appreciation they present for the hassle he and his workforce put into the occasion.

“They are awesome fans and I want them all to walk away feeling appreciated by myself and my colleagues, for without them I wouldn’t be getting to work on the world’s greatest stages,” he continued. “But I just think maybe they don’t realize just how much of a grind, just how much we put our hearts and our souls into this.”

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Regardless of sharing his want for League followers to higher perceive the work behind the scenes of their favourite occasions, Sebastian admitted he doesn’t need them to know the whole lot. “There’s things that go wrong that the audience hopefully don’t notice,” Sebastian mentioned, whereas laughing and doubtless considering of the entire issues that haven’t gone to plan behind the brilliant lights and levels that he’s labored on. He doesn’t share which specific occasion popped into his thoughts as a result of “a good magician never reveals their secrets.”

League followers will more than likely be seeing Sebastian this Fall, when Riot will construct a grandiose stage for the 2023 World Championship and the stage supervisor shall be there as soon as once more to verify everybody has the perfect time of their life – together with himself. “You cannot do this work unless you love it. And that’s what it all boils down to. Loving it. Every single moment.”

Photographs courtesy of Bruce (Yicun-Liu86), Colin Younger-Wolff, and Riot Video games.

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