How Did This Happen is theScore esports' series about scores, stats and player performances that stand out from the pack. The outliers that distinguish a game and turn it into a story worth telling.
I want you to imagine the longest game of League of Legends you've ever watched. If you haven't watched professional League, then maybe imagine how long you think you could bear watching one game of LoL. Forty minutes? Fifty minutes? An hour?
Now I want you to look at these logos, and I want you to imagine staring at them for ninety-one minutes, because in September of 2013, Hong Kong Attitude and ahq e-Sports Club played a 91 minute and 21 second game of League of Legends at the 2014 LNL Winter Qualifiers.
That's an hour and a half. That is one game of League that is longer than The Lion King, My Neighbor Totoro and the Charlie Chaplin classic, Modern Times. It's longer than watching three episodes of the Big Bang Theory back-to-back-to-back. It's longer than most undergraduate college lectures I attended and didn't sleep through. Anyone watching this game probably spent more time thinking about Hong Kong Attitude's incredible logo than any other humans in existence, and that's honestly the only positive thing about watching this game.
For a game that lasted longer than most doctor's appointments, it didn't start all that crazy. It took almost eight minutes for HKA to draw First Blood, and the first tower didn't fall until 11 minute and 15 seconds.
All told, it was a pretty normal, if extraordinarily slow game of League. Thirty minutes into this game, ahq and HKA were pretty even. 1K apart in gold, and one kill away from each other; ahq only led with four towers to HKA's two.
But that's when things just stopped making sense. ahq decided to group up in the mid lane and just run into HKA's base. Maybe they felt 30 minutes was enough, maybe they had somewhere to be, no one can really say. HKA took the the fight and won, resetting everything back to zero.
There's a moment in every League of Legends game, really in any competitive activity, where you decide to close it out, and you either fail or succeed. I'm not the world's foremost League expert. I don't know the intimate details of how every patch shifted the meta, but this game stands apart because every single time one team had that chance, every time that thought could have crossed their minds, it just didn't. Ending the game apparently just stopped being a concern for these teams.
Instead, that breaking point broke them. The teams became so obsessed with positioning themselves to end the game through careful macro play that they almost stopped fighting entirely. There are a few explosive engages here and there throughout the last thirty minutes of the game, but for a 90 plus minute game of League, this game has a shockingly low kill count. The final kill score was 41-25, and 49 of the total kills were registered an hour in.
After much more than an hour of grinding this game out, Hong Kong Attitude eventually won with a painfully slow three-minute base assault. It was their fourth time in ahq’s base. One time involved HKA fighting behind one of ahq’s turrets, which forced them to back off even though they’d killed three members of ahq. Another time involved HKA throwing so thoroughly on Nexus turrets that it’s some sort of miracle ahq didn’t win the game immediately.
Miraculous is the only way to describe this game, because if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s longer than the entirety of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it would be completely forgettable. There are no catastrophic misplays, only dumb decisions. The drafts are fairly normal for the time, and none of the players were considered to be the best in the scene. None of the players set any kill records, and the closest anyone got was HKA’s mid laner, PaSa, who picked up the 37th highest CS of all time at 694. When you put aside all the numbers for a second, the longest game in professional League of Legends history is just unwatchably boring.
But that’s part of the beauty of it. At its best, League of Legends is a large-scale game of strategy, with moments of fast action and particle effects that can keep a viewer hanging on every play. At its worst, it’s a 91-minute slog that seemingly drives the players themselves insane.
There’s nothing good about this particular game, nothing even remotely commendable or worth watching, but you can’t have good League of Legends without bad League of Legends, and every SKT vs. the ROX Tigers at Worlds needs a Hong Kong Attitude vs. ahq e-Sports Club. Something needs to be the longest game of all time, and at least it involved the best logo in all of esports.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. He watches these games so you don't have to. You can follow him on Twitter.