Created By: Gasm Media
Authors: Tony & Adam
Cast: Benjamin Mitchell, Lexi Blevins
Rating: 4/5 Cans of Carlsberg
After a boozy first impression of Rivals, the hangover has settled and we’ve gathered our thought’s on the full series.
As you may know, Rivals follows two League of Legends teams, clashing head to head in what is ultimately a turf war which digresses into backstabbing, seduction, and lies; with a healthy helping of revenge. All of this condensed into 12 very digestible and easy to watch pieces. No episode is longer than 12 minutes, which is very conducive to the new binge watching generation of today.
We were very surprised to see a web series based on a game to pull some cards out of their sleeve in the form of tackling gender equality, serious relationships, war tactics, team building and a surprisingly professional production quality (previous experience with mini web series has helped us appreciate fine camera work and sound quality- for once we are actually looking at the actors, rather than the actor’s forehead and the god damn roof above them).
The story of Rivals introduces us to our first main Character Jason who is the leader of Team Wolf (a clever play on Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf) the best League of Legends team in Atlanta. What starts to be a seemingly unlikeable character is completely turned around when smart writing turns the co-protagonist, Jason’s ego around on him and running one of the best ‘honey pots’ I’ve ever seen acted out on screen. Team Wolf soon find themselves clashing with the next best thing in LoL, ‘The Other Castle’ (Genius name- when you learn what it means) who are ruthless, smart, and driven by a burning and surprisingly real world and social rights based revenge driven Vic. Vic and her team lead a coup against the champs to literally drive them out of their own land, corrupt their team and win the title at any cost… or so it seems. Team Wolf are up to the challenge, even if they don’t fully know it yet. Some excellent character development, mutiny and good old fashion conniving tactics threaten to tear both teams apart.
This is not a series about a game, it’s a series about people. We are not competitive gamers, not up to scratch, Adam still has his Gameboy colour and Tony’s still trying to figure out which video card he needs for his computer. But that said, we got completely sucked into this. We were anxious that this would be about the world in which we didn’t live and knew nothing about but by the end of the session we were invested in each character, blown away by the writing and the group dynamics and for the most part forgot what we were doing when we stumbled onto it.
That being said… The order is a little off. Some things happen slightly too late to have the impact that they could have had. I.E episode 4- which we have renamed: ‘The Plight of The Girl Gamer and the Ballad of the Dick’ which provides a much needed backstory and motivation that until this point makes The Other Castle just seem like a bunch of bent out of shape underdogs who want to drink in a nice bar; this also defrosts and justifies Vic’s icy demeanour. The climax of the series builds to an event that never really happens, but still seems to have significant impact on the outcome of the whole thing, while we completely respect this decision in terms of scripting and completely understand it in terms of filming and production constraints- we were hoping to see the climactic sunrise showdown, but it raises some interesting questions that season two may be able to answer.
In Rivals, you’re not shown a game you know nothing about, you’re shown an interesting journey that builds and breaks groups of people just trying to be good at something and introduced to some fun characters who hang out in what looks like a really cool looking bar. If Tony and I ever drink too much and end up waking up across the pond, we really hope to visit that spot.
The fact is, we spent a night drinking heavily and watching this series in its entirety and we really enjoyed it. It’s not often we find ourselves drunkenly screaming at character decisions. The writing must be praised for being very bold, very ambitious, very well paced and we raise a serious glass to Gasm Media for creating this- very excited for season two and what they may do in the future.
**DISCLAIMER** a moth flew into the room at one point when we were really wasted and we got a bit derailed and may have missed a small section of one episode, but the important thing is that we’re ok.