When I talk to people who have no background in gaming or eSports about League of Legends and the LCS, I (probably like many others) often rely on easy, sometimes reductive comparisons to traditional sports — comments like how the LCS is some chimeric hybrid between the NFL and any European football league, and how the El Clasico is Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming.

It’s a rivalry spawned out of exciting, irrational, and sometimes immature trash talk, as is par for the course when it comes to any good rivalry. To the fanboys of Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming, it’s a way to vent their misguided frustration about their rivals. To the fans of both teams, it was a way to have fun on Reddit, while also masking their insecurities about their team’s overall strength.

Over the years, the rivalry has grown, once from a place of probable jealousy and dislike to a presumed way to generate hype about their upcoming matches. It was and is everything that is expected and great about sports rivalries.

But this year it’s changed in a way that likely blindsided us all.

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