Friday, May 12, 2017

Salute to Leeroy Jenkins

Guess what gamers?

The legend of Leeroy Jenkins was born 12 years ago.

The World of Warcraft superstar is so infamous that he's been included in the Wracraft trading cards, miniatures, as in-game items and quests in WoW and other MMO's, and Hearthstone. Who would have known that in 2005, such an astounding video would take the internet by storm and turn this man into a demi-God. Ben Schulz, the man behind Leeroy, sure didn't.

On this special occasion, let's take a look back at the history of Leeroy and why his legacy is infamous.

It all started with a raid that went wrong. One evening, Leeroy and his guild PALS FOR LIFE, were setting up for an event. The team was gathering in the chat channels, checking gear, making sure they had enough in-game food, and casting buffs. Leeroy was getting tired of waiting. Seconds turned to minutes, which turned into several minutes. And then nearly an hour. It's enough to drive a person batty, even for the most hard-core of MMO players. He stepped away from his computer to breathe. Returned, and thought everyone was ready. So he charged in to start the fight! Lungs blazing with his battle cry "Leeeeeroooooyyy Jeeennnnkkkiiinnnns!" Sword swinging. Arms flailing. His team running behind to catch up. It was sure to be a glorious fight.

It ultimately led to a complete wipe of the raid party because no one was ready. But at least Leeroy had his chicken.

The guild thought the event and aftermath was funny. They weren't totally mad at Leeroy; just mildly annoyed. He was still chill throughout the experience, and it got a laugh out of the guild-mates. Why not recreate it and record it? So that's what they did, and the Leeroy video was born.

YouTube was still in it's infancy at that time. We knew about it. We knew it had funny cat videos. And it was the perfect place to start loading game content. But PALS FOR LIFE probably had no idea just how popular the video would be. It has everything one needs in less then 3 minutes of viewing time: action, drama, strategy, humor, sorrow, and ridiculousness. It capitalizes on the popularity of WoW, shows how insanely crazy we gamers can be with our battle plans, and just how funny it is when one person messes it up.

Leeroy became an internet session seemingly overnight, though it probably took several months for the video to become a household name among gamers. I remember it being shared in our Final Fantasy XI linkshell group before a Sky run (at the time it was the most difficult area for end-game content). We were all laughing and cringing, knowing that guild's pain all to well. Reaction to the video was nearly immediate. PC Gamer UK ran a special story on Leeroy later that year. Blizzard flew in Schulz to Blizzcon and he became a special guest. Fans love him. To this day, it is one of the most talked about and viewed gaming videos on the internet. Everyone knows Leeroy, and no one wants to be Leeroy in a raid.

And now the internet phenomenon is 12. We've been graced with over a decade of Leeroy, and his legacy will never end. Even after WoW long departs from this world and other MMO's take it's place, there will always be The Ballad of Leeroy Jenkins.

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