Intel Extreme Masters is returning to San Jose on November the 21st and 22nd - and it’s bringing the League of Legends competition with it. Six teams from around the world will be performing on the SAP Center stage, battling it out for the Intel Extreme Masters trophy while showing off their incredible skills.
The event will also see the return of Leigh “Deman” Smith as a League of Legends commentator, so we sat down and chatted with Deman about Worlds, Intel Extreme Masters San Jose, his career and more.
ESL: Hello, Leigh! Last time we chatted, you shared your Worlds semifinals predictions with us. With all the matches now behind us, what are your thoughts on how the Worlds finals went down?
Leigh “Deman” Smith: It pretty much went as expected, honestly. It was great to see KOO Tigers pick up the one game, though, and for a moment there was a glimmer of hope for them - but it was quickly extinguished in the next game. SK Telecom T1 proved they were very much worthy world champions once again - great to see.
ESL: After Worlds comes Intel Extreme Masters San Jose. Five out of the six participating teams have taken part in Worlds - Fnatic, Origen, Counter Logic Gaming, Team SoloMid and LGD - and we have Jin Air Wings from South Korea completing the lineup. What are your predictions for the tournament? Is it even possible to make predictions with some of the teams’ roster changes?
Deman: This will be a pretty wild event in terms of predictions, I think. Jin Air Wings, being Korean, will always be expected to do well, but I feel Fnatic have a great shot at winning this year. Also I expect LGD will show a much stronger performance than they did at Worlds. Sadly, I don’t expect a great deal from the NA teams with such huge changes between CLG and TSM - will be interested to see how it turns out.
ESL: What are your favorite memories from last year’s San Jose?
Deman: Last year was great for Cloud9. We also had the big shock from the Unicorns of Love, and let’s not forget that fun ARAM with six casters at once. I hope we get some more great moments this year.
ESL: What are you most looking forward to this year?
Deman: Casting League of Legends! As many know, I did the Worlds quarterfinals for the BBC at Wembley, and it reminded me just how much I love casting the game - the buildup to fights, the crazy back and forth turnarounds that can happen. I hope we have some great, action-packed games.
ESL: You were - and to many still are - one of THE faces of professional League of Legends casting. Was it difficult to end the Riot chapter in your life and begin a new one focused on CS:GO?
Deman: Yes, it was very difficult, and honestly something I regret doing. I made choices based off my personal life at the time and it turned out to be the wrong decision. However, casting CS:GO and the multitude of other games I do for ESL have their own challenges, which I am happy to face.
ESL: What is your favorite thing about casting League of Legends?
Deman: The storytelling for me is the best part. You get time to build up pre-game a story of the lanes and can transition it into the game as it plays out in front of you.
ESL: Aside from them being two very different games, what are the biggest differences between casting CS:GO and League of Legends?
Deman: It’s night and day to cast the two games. LoL is this slow buildup, big action moment and back to a slower pace, whereas CS:GO can chop and change at the flip of a switch - one player could suddenly pull off a crazy clutch play when you least expect it and shatter the economy and moment of their opponent.
ESL: What are a few your favorite League of Legends casting moments?
Deman: I guess the most recent for me would be the semifinals at Worlds in Korea with myself, Joe Miller and Kobe. It was an insane best of five between two Chinese teams with lots of action, perfect for two to cover play-by-play with Kobe’s analysis. Then, of course, you can look further back to the insane moments we’ve had at Intel Extreme Masters events: the xPeke backdoor, Gambit Gaming sweeping the Koreans aside and the classic Moscow 5 games.
ESL: What's next on the agenda for you esports-wise?
Deman: I’ve a very busy two months ahead of me traveling all around the globe, some of which is unannounced as of yet. However, rest assured I won’t be spending much time at home before Christmas!
ESL: Thanks for chatting with us and enjoy your time in San Jose! Do you have any shoutouts you’d like to make?
Deman: As always, I’d like to thank ESL and all my friends, family and fans who have supported me over the last decade in esports.
If you want to see Deman live in action commenting on the exciting matches to come, be sure to join us in person at Intel Extreme Masters San Jose - get yours ticket here!