As the League of Legends World Championship reaches its most important games of the year, Saturday Night Live decided it was the perfect time to create a skit about esports aimed at an audience that may not know what esports is.
The skit starts with two cast members portraying news anchors Doug Miller and Mark Laramie showing a clip from a recent match where the fabricated team Shadow Gaming eliminates Team Echo in 32 minutes.
“Wow, did not see that coming,” Doug Miller exclaims, making the audience chuckle already.
The desk then shows a photo of a young teenage boy. They state that this is their regular esports reporter, but that he’s too busy taking the PSATs to analyze the match that just finished up.
Of course, the joke is that the people who watch esports are young teenage boys. While it did make the audience laugh, the stats would prove this to be false. According to GameScape, the median age of a US esport viewer is 28 years old, since about 40% of the audience is between 25 and 34 years old. Women also make up 30% of the esports audience.
Instead, the SNL skit decides to show female fans as raving fangirls who want to “hang out” with the winning team backstage. This was done in part to show how shocked the news desk was at women’s interest in esports, even after seeing a very awkward, anti-social, mouth-breathing League of Legends coach stare awkwardly into the camera when asked questions about his team’s success that match.
Entertainer and special guest Chance the Rapper takes over for the teenage boy reporter, and is shown being perplexed down at the scene. He immediately says that everything that just transpired “confused” him. He then says he thought “League of Legends” was a team of NBA all-stars, but when he arrived it was just a bunch of gamers who didn’t know what a basketball even was watching “10 nerdy dudes” on stage.
It’s a common misconception that esports players and fans are kids who never leave the basement and don’t have any other interests outside of gaming. While most people know this to be false by now, the absurdity of the competitors getting $7 million to “ready, set, sit down” still had the audience roaring.
Another funny moment came from the desk correspondents asking Chance the Rapper to explain the last match. The rapper says, “No thanks.”
He then says he had no idea esports was a thing, commenting that this is what “white and Asian kids were doing while black kids were inventing hip hop.”
While most likely used as shock value, the racial comparison rubbed some the wrong way. The competitive fighting game scene is full of successful African American competitors, including the seemingly unstoppable Dominique “SonicFox” McLean.
African American esports fans also often lend their talents to the production side of things, becoming successful shout casters and analysts. Broadcaster D’Ron “D1” Maingrette, who is black, took to Twiter to call out SNL for this particular joke.
Still, the esports industry could use a bit more diversity overall.
Chance the Rapper won over SNL’s audience for his overall performance, most notably the part where he said “That means nothing to me” after the desk reporters explained some key moments in the “League of LEGOs” match.
It’s true that even some esports fans have no clue what just went down sometimes.
So far, the skit has over 775,000 views on YouTube, and many of the comments under the video are from gamers appreciating the words. Some even said they were impressed when the reporters at the desk were able to explain what happened in the clip using actual League of Legends jargon.
But those within the industry will shudder at the use of the hyphenated “e-sports” in the title of the video itself.
Check out the clip for yourself: