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Looking back on The Simpsons’ Riot-aided esports episode

Is Bart the Doublelift of Springfield?!

Fox

On March 17, 2019, Riot Games and The Simpsons collaborated to create a new landmark in esports history: the creation of an episode centered around the MOBA esports scene. In “E My Sports,” Bart Simpson becomes the biggest star of Conflict of Enemies, travels to South Korea, and competes for big cash prizes. Sure, it’s not a 1:1 equivilence to League of Legends, but The Simpsons staff did collaborate with Riot Games to make it as authentic as possible.

Throughout the course of the episode, we see Homer get involved in coaching esports, Bart meet a pro player, and carry his team to victory. “The Simpsons originally came to us with this collaboration opportunity and we were excited to work together. Many of us grew up on The Simpsons,” said Whalen Rozelle, co-head of esports at Riot Games. The episode was designed for the esports uninitiated just as much as the biggest League fan around, with Rozelle noting that, “working working with an amazing show like The Simpsons it’s just a really cool milestone for us.”

“E My Sports” follows in the proud tradition of an episode like South Park’s MMO love letter in “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” Rozelle says that Riot would love to collaborate with other shows, but Riot had a good relationship with The Simpsons staff. Rozelle says, “We really enjoyed collaborating with The Simpsons producers and found working with them was pretty easy. We reviewed the script and shared feedback on specific questions they had while ideating for the episode.”

Fox

Riot Games consulted on characters’ dialogue, the visual design of characters, language and terminology, and League of Legends’ culture and community. The Simpsons staff also attended a LCS match and toured the Team Liquid training facility, but the thundersticks they brought back to their work room were “quickly banned”.

Rob LaZebnik, co-executive producer at The Simpsons, had been keeping an eye on the growth of esports. “I remember reading that something like eighty million people viewed the 2017 Season League of Legends World Championship, which is more than the NBA finals. I also watched the Free to Play documentary, and it all felt ripe for Simpsonification.”

Bart was a “natural fit” to become an esports star, and LaZebnik was impressed by the LCS match and Team Liquid’s facility. “I was struck by how awesome the fan engagement was at a live match,” he says. “I also visited the Team Liquid training facility, which was just so professional and beautiful, but also really serious when they were training. I had imagined it more like the Simpsons’ writers room, with people sitting around eating SkinnyPop and talking about politics. But it was much more professional.”

LaZebnik drives past Riot Games’ headquarters every morning, and the episode’s director Rob Oliver has an episode at Riot. That made League of Legends an easy choice to profile. As for LaZebnik’s favorite jokes, he says, “I liked all the team names we came up with, and we got some pretty miffed reactions from people in Calgary for calling a team the ‘Calgary Lames.’ We have two writers on the show who are from Calgary, who maintain the ‘Lames’ was just meant to fire up the Calgary Flames to beat the Edmonton Oilers.

I also loved having David ‘Phreak’ Turley’s voice in the show, even though he’s not seen on-screen.”

Fox

Now that Riot Games and The Simpsons have successfully collaborated, there’s potential to continue to bring esports into Springfield. There are a few episodes that are just begging to be made:

Shelbyville get their own esports team, but they’re sponsored with powerful gaming peripherals. Springfield needs to figure out a cheese composition to trump their foes.

Comic Book Guy, Otto, Snake, Moe, and Kirk Van Houten start a Clash team to try to bond and get out of their respective ruts. When they repeatedly lose to Martin Prince’s team of genius, tryhard children, Springfield enters a new age of chaos.

Skinner tries to impress Superintendent Chalmers with his incredible jungle Kayn strats. His mother demands that Skinner camp her lane, and Chalmers gets camped, spoiling the entire plan.

Lisa is a strong proponent of the Overwatch League-equivilent and campaigns for her family to switch over from the LCS broadcast for the day. Special guest Jeff Kaplan helps Lisa comes to term with the fact that she’s different from the rest of her family.

The Springfield Terrors are in a bad spot when Bart breaks his gaming arm. Luckily, a gamer emerges from the shadows. It’s ... Doublelift? “Looks like you need a carry,” he chuckles. “Doublelift?!” Bart exclams. “That’s right, Bart.” Doublelift says ... but what happens when Springfield Elementary loves Doublelift more than Bart?!

Ninja is travelling through Springfield to a Fortnite tournament when his bus breaks down outside the Springfield Conflict of Enemies tournament. Can the citizens of Springfield reconcile their love of Ninja with his hatred of their favorite game? At some point in the episode, Homer flosses.