Yes, after almost 3 years League of Legends is finally getting a true-blue in-game spectator mode. Based on what the video below shows, it looks like they’ve used the time well. Players will be able to join games in progress, watch professional players, and of course skip through the match using “Timeshift” control, a fancy name for fast forward and rewind. It’s interesting that the most popular MOBA has taken this long to adopt such a function; even Dota had the benefit of an in-game replay and spectator system courtesy of the last-gen Warcraft III engine from 2003. I know what you’re thinking, “aren’t people going to use this function to cheat?” Well no, frankly, as Riot Games has implemented the system with a time delay.
Even without an official spectator mode, League of Legends has become one of the most watched games in all of e-sports. So far current success has been due to the fan made League Replays mod or the not-so-well-received Observer Mode, which aided in allowing those who wish to shoutcast games to do so. Riot’s new Spectator Mode however, is full of all sorts of key bindings and functions to allow viewers to dance around the action quickly and efficiently. For example, pressing the spacebar will automatically cycle through contested areas of the map, and there is also a Directed Camera function which follows the action for you without pressing any buttons. Mastery in this new system will be a must for those who make a living shoutcasting games.
There also may be some negative repercussions as well. Currently many casters stream their own games live through services like Own3D.TV and Twitch.tv. If players don’t mind missing out on the commentary and want more control over the action, some casters may see their audiences’ stream games through Riot’s new service in lieu of other sites. However it most likely won’t affect casters with a dedicated fanbase.
Regardless of what happens, a better streaming service supported by Riot Games will most likely be a benefit to the community at large. If you’re interested a summary of the features of the video can be found below, and the service itself goes live tomorrow.