«The Simpsons»: Bart goes to Korea to become a competitive gamer
In the 30th season of America’s longest-running television series, Bart discovers e-sports. The 17th episode of the season, titled «E my sports» – a parody of Bart’s «eat my shorts» – premiered on Fox on the 17th of March. The reason for Bart’s swift ascendance towards e-sports dominance is the consequence of one of Homer’s idiotic punishments: his plan involves inundating Bart’s brain with video games until the family is legally no longer responsible for him.
Bart, however, becomes so good at his game that he gets invited to participate in an e-sports tournament in South Korea. Victory at the tournament would bring one million dollars in prize money with it. Homer realises how much money can be made from e-sports and subsequently becomes Bart’s passionate and overenthusiastic coach. Lisa, feeling neglected, tries to bring her father and brother back to reality. This only makes everything worse.
An official German release date hasn’t been announced by ProSieben yet.
Riot Games at their side
Bart Simpson’s adventures are numerous. Take in season six, in which he discovers a deadly comet and names it after himself. Or season twelve, where he gets cast as a boy band member and becomes a rival of «NSync» thanks to autotune. Now the notorious rascals dives head first into the e-sports industry, which according to Forbes is slated to be worth over a billion dollars soon.
«The episode is meant to embody a cultural tipping point,» Simpsons co-producer Rob LaZebnik told CNBC. «Video games have been around for a very long time now. Combine that with the fact that everyone is online and the expansion of e-sports feels so inevitable to me.»
«League of Legends» is one of the industry’s most popular games, reaching 27 million daily players. To preserve a measure of authenticity, the producers of «The Simpsons» worked with the studio behind the phenomenon: Riot Games. Developers Whalen Rozelle and Jarred Kennedy advised, while commentator David «Phreak» Turley contributed some voice acting – e-sports events are usually casted like football matches. Turley is well-known enough to deserve his own entry on the League of Legends wiki page, including a trivia section.
Fox recently commented in a press release: «They all lent their expertise to the production to ensure the experience depicted in the episode was authentic to the players, fans and coaches who compete professionally»
Bart does shout things like «get rekt, noob» or «gg» (good game), both expressions typically used by gamers. This is followed by team member and notorious bully Nelson turning their fallen enemies into exploding chickens. Homer then praises the boys for the «civilised destruction» of their foes. They end the scene by performing a ridiculous victory dance typical for online games. However, the League of Legends name is nowhere to be seen. Instead it’s replaced by a typical Simpsons parody called «Conflict of Enemies». ## Great for the e-sports scene
This episode could turn out to be a massive ad for e-sports and prove to be beneficial to the whole industry. Especially to Riot Games. At least this was implied in the statement a Riot Games representative made on CNBC: «We hope that this episode, on top of all the work we’re doing around the world, [...], will make a real impact on how people view ‘League of Legends’ e-sports in the long term.»
The industry has been booming for years. Especially in Asian countries. This was proven without a doubt when the 2017 League of Legends world cup finals attracted over 100 million live viewers worldwide for the first time in e-sports history. A record that was again shattered the next year, when the same event reached 200 million live viewers.
To put this into perspective: according to Sport Insider (in German), around 30 million people watch the Wimbledon finals, while the Monaco Grand Prix is followed by 50–70 million viewers worldwide. Only the UEFA Champions League football final beats «League of Legends» with an international viewer count of 400 million.
So what is The Simpsons episode actually doing for e-sports? For Riot Games, it’s mainly raising awareness in the west. This is vital for developers and the e-sports industry alike if they want to achieve worldwide relevance: without the Asian market, the League of Legends finals would have barely reached 2 million viewers.
By the way, «League of Legends» belongs to the genre Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA for short. Two teams of five players compete against each other on an arena-like map. Their goal is to storm the enemy base and destroy its main power source. Every player controls a special hero with a unique skill set. Usually, the only routes of attack consist of three large paths or «lanes». These lanes are protected by two guard towers per side, which need to be destroyed before proceeding.
And yes, Homer: people really do get paid to play video games. In dollars.