You would think that after being burned by the scores of Season 1s that never churned out Season 2s (I’m looking at you with despair in my eyes, Gamer Girl), an emotional geek like myself would up and call it quits on these gaming webshows. But I can’t stop myself. So up this time around on the geek webshow deck is Rivals.
Synopsis: Pro Gamer Jason just met the girl of his dreams, but he’s about to discover that she’s also his biggest competition. With the all-important Regionals coming up, what begins as a simple rivalry turns into an IRL war as both teams try to lie, cheat, and scheme their way to victory. RIVALS, presented by geek bar Battle & Brew, proves that there’s no such thing as love within the lanes.
First off “there’s no such thing as love within the lanes” is going to be a chapter title in my memoir. Secondly, that’s a pretty accurate description of the show. So let’s get into it…
Rivals developed well and had all the elements of a well-thought-out story. A chance encounter turned into a running rivalry / romance waiting to happen, a great supporting cast with their own lives and stories to delve into when the main story slowed down, a tangible end goal – and a truly dislikeable but occasionally funny antagonist.
Following Vic and Jason as they tried to keep their teams together appealed to both the realist and the escapist in me. The realist liked the everyday-ness of it all, the awkward encounters and the group dynamics. The escapist… well, how many of us are really ever going to get to the LoL regionals and still have lives to live in our spare time?
But seriously, Rivals packed a complex and coherent storyline into its 12 episode season, and that’s awesome. I accidentally skipped an episode at one point (read: damn you, sporadic free WiFi zone) and found myself actually going back to catch up on plot points – this doesn’t happen often with webshows.
Sometimes, not all the time – and not even very often, but sometimes – stereotypes work. Rivals did a great job of making room for plot development by cutting away character development time and introducing us to a cast of characters we largely already know: that douchebag gamer, that incongruously cute but vicious gamer, the silent and deadly strategiser, the guy who never loses etc, etc. Usually I’m not a fan of stereotypical characters because it tends to end there and we never get to know anything more about them, but Rivals did a good job of using them as a base and building from there.
Our protagonists were quirky, sometimes irritating and other times endearing, which is always a great mix. I suppose my only gripe was the over-done extras, and there were only two of them so it’s not a train smash.
You know how it is with indie productions. You can get anything from “is that static in the background?” to “this is like watching a Nigerian movie” levels of sound and video quality. I’m glad to say that Rivals was closer to the static in the background levels of noise than they were to the ear-bleed levels when it comes to sound. And the show definitely improved as it went on, adjusting well for the outdoor scenes (trust me, outdoor scenes are not a joke).
What really shone for me was the video quality. Whether chilling in the dark and damp of a basement bar, at the Battle & Brew (how awesome a name is that??) or in the unforgiving sunlight of an abandoned stretch of road, these guys had their camera work on point. It’s the kind of thing that makes you realise that not all webshows have to come with the “forgive the quality” addendum when you’re recommending them to friends.
If you were hoping to learn how to play LoL from this show, you’re out of luck. However, if you wanted some geeky entertainment and maybe a lesson on how to deal with douchebag gamers, you’re in all the lucks because Rivals is geeky and entertaining and (SPOILER) in the end the douchenozzle loses. (END SPOILER).
Mood Rating: Get comfy in your gaming chair and tune out everything but your love for Summoner’s Rift, because an enemy is about to be slain!