Interviewing a World Class LoL PlayerNov 12, 2014 | 2 Votes
Q: Today we’ll interview Sa’ar Zehavi, a world-class level League of Legends player, who has a very interesting insight on the game. Let’s start, Saar, when did you start playing League of Legends? How did you hear about it?
A:I have started playing league of legends since 2012 (end of season 1) up to present day, with a few short period breaks in between. At that time I was playing World of Warcraft together with my best friend. When he was convinced to install the game by a mutual friend of ours, the road to me installing the game and for us getting caught up in it was very short.
Q: How often do you play the game? How long do you play each time?
A: I play league of legends almost every day, between 2-3 hours on the weekdays and 2-6 hours on the weekends, depending on how busy I am. Although I personally enjoy competitive play more, I would say that half my time playing league of legends is social playing, with various gamer friends. Obviously, I have some days where I find myself going to sleep at 5AM after playing all night.
Q: What makes the game so attractive in your opinion?
A: The thing that makes the game so attractive to me is the fact that it has a lot of different aspects to it which you can enjoy depending on your level. The game is both mechanical and strategic, it is a team game and is a competitive game. I am a very competitive person and so I find it very enjoyable. The thing that I appreciate a lot about the game is how easy it is to explain it to someone and how easy it is for them to learn it. It makes it a lot of fun to play with friends which are less/more familiar in the game than you.
I really like the rating system in this game and it’s competitive aspects, I actually learned a lot about competitive playing just by casually playing the game. This game forces you to adapt to very rapidly changing situations, you need to be a very well rounded player in order to compete in the higher levels. You have to make good decisions that are not impulsive but are also very fast, you need to know how to capitalize on an advantage but also how to minimize a disadvantage. You have to size up your opponent and to figure out if he is better than you, in which case you would have to play more defensively or if you are better than him, in which case you would want to gain as much advantage as you can over him for the benefit of you and your team.
There are a lot of psychological aspects to the game, breaking the spirit of the opposing team to secure a victory, baiting an opponent into thinking that he is in an advantage over you when he is not in order to gain a tactical advantage are all (a few) advanced aspects of the game which I enjoy.
Q: That’s a very detailed and interesting answer, thanks! Is there any special game moment that you remember and like to share?
A: The thing that is most fun about this game is that there are a lot of very exciting games, a game that I do recall is actually a game I learned a lot from but was not at my best performance to say the least. I was playing Anivia which is my main champion vs a Yassuo when the latter just came out, it was really hard for me to counter my opponent’s plays as he was both a very seasoned player and at the same time I did not know what his champion’s skills were.
It was my promotion game from gold to platinum tier which made it a very important game and I was losing. I hate losing, my philosophy about losing up to that point was that it is pointless to play when you are losing, I would just succumb to defeat or get carried by team mates who were doing well yet since a greater goal was in line for winning the game I decided that I was going to win it, no matter what. And so, in this game, as I was losing I tried to not step on my leading teammates toes, I tried to play more conservatively, tried to minimize my opponents lead by farming and I also went to help other lanes while leaving them the kills even though I never did.
I was surprised at the end of the game when we had a teamfight 5vs4, one of our team members was not with us in that team fight and we lost.. I am not sure if their entire team survived that team fight or if it was just 2-3 but what I am sure was that I knew that they were going to take our nexus. I was already accepting defeat and looking at my enemies marching into our base when all of a sudden the in game camera focused on the other team’s nexus and the game ended with the message “Victory”.
Our deserting team member was actually ruining the opposing team’s nexus while we were fighting them, it was pretty cool and has shown me that the actual gap between gold level and the higher, platinum level was not even. Though on some amount a gap of mechanical skill yet was more of a decision making and strategical gap, the players in the higher levels cared less about their kills and more about the objective. This has actually made me reflect upon my own life a bit but this is a whole different topic. :)
Q: That’s a great story! It actually reminds me of some tactics I’ve read about in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game book. In your opinion, what are the most important skills to master in order to become a great League of Legends player?
A: The Two main attributes that consist of a great league of legends player are the ability to analyze a given status (being able to decide with high accuracy whether you are in favor or in deficit in a given situation) and the ability to predict the possible outcome of a given action.
A player who can successfully analyze and predict the flow of the game would already be a valuable asset to his team as he would avoid dying to his opponents when he is not in a favorable position and generate gold in the form of kills for his team.
An even better player is a player who is able to also communicate his smarter notions to his team members and to lead them towards an advantage when he figured out how to do so. It is even more important to be able to listen to other players and to follow up their smart moves as well. I usually give too much credit to my team members but I think it is better for team synergy to give more credit to your teammates than the other way around. Notice how I did not mention mechanical skill as an important skill to become a great LOL player as it would only carry you into being an OK LOL player, above a certain level it becomes more of a decision making game than a skill based game as the players mechanical skill is rather similar.
Q: Sounds like you’re on the right way to the top! Is there anything in the game that you’d like to see improved?
A: I think that the obvious would be to ask for more champions/more items which I am pretty sure RIOT is working on constantly. The thing that I would like to see improve the most though, for my own personal satisfaction from the game, is an improvement in the sportsmanship of the League of Legends community. It is so upsetting to try to win a game when you have players on your own team who constantly harass other team members of your team, and this happens quite more often than not.
Q: Do you watch games by other top players to get better?
A: I do, and I enjoy it quite a lot. I hardly watch streams but rather more youtube videos of legendary players such as Froggen which is an epic Anivia player (My main champion) and others. I really enjoy watching championship games and have used to watch those in live streams with friends. I think one of the coolest things about League of Legends is the fact that it is also very fun to watch.
Q: Did you try other games, both similar and not similar to League of Legends? how do they compare?
A: On the MOBA class of games you can say that I have tried Heroes of Newerth and DOTA2, it was very evident to me that Heroes of Newerth was not as invested on as League of Legends and did not enjoy it rather much. DOTA2 was actually a very nice game although at the moment when I installed the game on my computer I could not really play it with my friends as their laptops could not handle the game’s graphics too well and so have decided to ditch the game for good old League of Legends that works smoothly on all of our laptops.
I am a fan of multiplayer games and do not really consider not multiplayer games as games worth playing for more than 5 minutes, some other games that I have had the pleasure of playing are World of Warcraft, Enemy Territory and Unreal Tournament.
Q: Thank you for your time Sa’ar, it’s been a pleasure to listen to your input on the gaming industry in general and League of Legends specifically. Lastly, you’re a software developer, do you see your self take part in the game development industry? Is that something that’s interesting for you?
A: As long as the job involves extensive “testing” of the product - you can sign me in!
On a more serious note, while I do not reject the possibility of working as an intern for a company like Riot or Blizzard for a few months, I would probably be much happier beginning my masters degree in Computer Science while playing their fantastic games.
Thank you for the nice questions! I hope I’ve brought an interesting perspective to your readers.