It’s super easy to get on the hype train that wraps around item L – The elusive Riot Games 2v2 fighting game – despite the lack of information. At the time of writing, the only piece of information we had to dig into was a very brief video released in late 2021 that just gave us a taste of a game so early in development that it didn’t even have a name. Even so, at just six minutes, Much of the global fighting game community has already piqued their taste buds and piqued their curiosity.
This all begs the question – does Project L have what it takes to go big in a genre filled with rivals with decades of experience? Is there any substance behind the excitement, or is the fad around the game unearned? For those curious about Project L, let’s get started.
Big Name Hiring – Who Are Tom and Tony Cannon?
If you’re kicking off the above video (embed above if you haven’t seen it), you’ll be greeted by the Cannon brothers’ beautiful shiny dome. These two have a long and impressive history in fighting games.
Let’s start with Tom.For those with a vague understanding of the competitive scene of fighting games, Tom is the founder of a small tournament called Battle of the Gulf Back in 1996, it would grow into EVO – the world’s largest and most prestigious fighting game event (recently acquired by Sony).
More than 20 years later, Tom has handed over the general manager position of EVO to Rick Thiher, another well-known event organizer, who will continue to pass the torch. With 20 years of behind-the-scenes experience at events like this, few believe they know how to make a fighting game shine not only for the genre’s diehards, but for a broad audience.
Tony Cannon, who developed GGPO in 2009. In short, it’s a network code solution for peer-to-peer games that goes a long way in solving the biggest problems of the genre. In many ways, the GGPO set the stage for the massive push to great online gaming we see today.
So when Riot unites the two of them as the face of its fighting game project, you start to see why those who know the brothers’ history look at Project L with itchy fingers and eyes full of excitement.
I’m reading some of the comments in these Project L threads and people really don’t know who Tom and Tony Cannon are and why we’re in such good hands?they are actually the godfather of the fgc and @pond3r Rollback was invented.No one convinces me more than them
— Ari Weintraub (@Floejisan) November 21, 2021
Riot’s history of solving big problems
If you remember when Valorant was announced, Anna Donlon immediately addressed some of the biggest issues people were getting tired of in competitive FPS shooters – namely the peeker’s dominance and the connectivity issues that caused it.
Project L does a lot of the exact same thing. Tired of a bad online experience? “Bang,” Tony said, “we’re using the rollback network code and the server network we use with League of Legends and Brave.” Are you tired of the high threshold of fighting games? Well Riot is addressing this too, noting that it makes character rosters easy to learn with simplified typing, while still having the depth you’d expect.
So Riot has outlined all the issues it realized it needed to overcome if it wanted to go big in a space dominated by longtime franchises (Street Fighter, Tekken, Guilty Gear, and even Smash). Riot’s willingness to put money and time into these problems and put its best-in-class technology to work on them means there’s a lot of “they would, they would” guessing game missing, at least when it comes down to what’s important at launch. Now all that’s left is to speculate on the fun stuff – like which heroes they’ll add and what kind of esports infrastructure we can expect.
pre-existing competitive audience
If there’s one obstacle to getting into any genre for the first time, it’s building an audience. Just look at the graveyard of Battle Royale, MMORPGs, and MOBAs, games that failed to pull players out of their favorites and died for it. What many other games that Project L has lacked is an audience that was there before the game was over: millions of people would have at least a brief interest in the game simply because the worlds and characters they had were in one Grow into love throughout the universe of games, TV, and God knows what else exists.
Layer on top of this the nature of this audience; there is a deep and enduring competitiveness to every Riot game – whether it’s the intimidating lanes of League of Legends, or the littering bomb sites, the crowds surrounding Riot’s games Already frustrated with getting stuck and focusing on PvP stuff. If you could assign two descriptors to a fighting game, “difficulty” and “PvP focus” would be a good fit, right?
Enter your average fighting game fan – they’re not used to jumping from one game to another as long as the network code is good and the match is hyped – and you have a strong starting player base that probably has the right mindset. Whether the game retains the majority of its audience is something we’ll have to figure out for ourselves, but if it can even reach a portion of the popularity of League of Legends or Valiant, it will be one of the most successful games of its kind.
So, does Project L have a chance to get bigger?
Absolutely. Based on everything we’ve seen (barring any unusual issues that could derail the game, such as Riot’s ongoing issues), Project L will likely be a hit when it launches. It’s all very exciting, really. While there are thousands of questions surrounding the title, we’re sure to keep an eye out for any tidbits that come out in the coming months.
Let us know what you think of Project L below! Do you think it’s going to have as much impact as some people expect, or is it going to prove that it can keep up with established giants like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter?