If you follow the LCK, you are probably aware that Chovy won the MVP award. Ordinarily this is something that merits a pat on the back and a nod of respect, but this time it was tarnished. We’ll take a look at why exactly in a moment but first I want to lay out how the MVP voting works in the LCK.
Unlike in the west, it is decided by the number of ‘player of the game’ or MVP votes each player is awarded for their games in the regular season. If EU did things the same thing with its player of the game voting, Selfmade would be awarded the MVP. We can debate the merits of lack thereof of this particular method in another article, but it does mean that ties in the standings are feasible.
Going into their final series against Jin Air, Griffin’s Chovy was tied with King Zone’s Deft in the MVP standings. Both players had fantastic seasons overall, but Griffin’s recent form had left a lot to be desired, dropping matches and having underwhelming individual performances. In the Jin air series, Chovy had a bad game two. He missed a lot of skillshots, his big outplay on the midlane gank was dependant on the rng of the Zoe W. (The escape was impressive but the redemption pick up wasn’t something he could control) He was consistently caught out of position.
Now let’s look at Sword, Griffin’s top lane. In that game, he almost killed the nexus alone with a back door, won multiple team fights for his team with fantastic shock blasts and positioning. Sword dismantled Jin Air with the help of Lehends.
And Chovy won the MVP for that game.
If you don’t believe me, go watch the VOD and check the highlight reel for Chovy, it consisted almost entirely of either luck, misplays or Sword carrying him. I firmly believed that Deft was robbed of a tied MVP and a share of the prize money. That aside, I want to speculate as to why Chovy got the MVP.
Narrative. I firmly believe it comes down to narrative. I’m not the first to say this, I am aware of this. But the idea of Narrative coming before integrity, is not a new idea, but until now, it hasn’t had such a high profile example I’m aware of to discuss.
Narrative is important to broadcasts, it allows you to get the audience invested in players and organisations as well as the league itself. It is something that LoL has done well as an Esport, taking the excitement of the league far beyond the game time exclusively. But it can mean that as with all story telling, sometimes you have to be selective about what you present to build a compelling story or argument.
Most recently in the Korean Leagues, the new kids Griffin, seizing control of the league for Summer 2018 and Spring 2019. A large part of that has been their up and coming star Chovy. As with most fantastic mid lanes in Korea, he has had to deal with the looming shadow of Faker. Probably the most storied Korean player, with Three world championships and Numerous splits under his belt. What could be more exciting than a new midlaner and a new team taking the spotlight from the Titan that is Faker and challenging the dominance of SKT. I understand that. It is fun to watch, as someone who has been waiting for SKT to return to form watching SKT come within a hair of beating Griffin only to lose was an amazing series, with what felt like more than just game score on the line.
But when there is money involved, when there is an award for the best player in the league, and they give it to Chovy, after one of his worst games all season? It cheapens the award, making it less about play and more about story lines. It’s a shame, it really is, because the tie would have recognised Chovy’s great split and Deft’s monstrous performances for King Zone. But in reality, Chovy’s MVP will always have that question mark next to it, through no fault of his own.