HBO's Ballers is getting a League of Legends storyline for its fifth and final season.
Here’s a crossover that nobody saw coming. Ballers is a show on HBO about retired NFL football player-turned money manager Spencer Strasmore (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and how he manages his retirement. He also manages the retirement of several other players, who have to find something to do with themselves after their time in the league.
One such player is Vernon, a former defensive lineman (played by Donovan W. Carter, a former UCLA Bruins defensive lineman) who decides he wanted to get into esports after throwing balls and slamming his body into other large, sweaty men.
That's what happens in the NFL, right? Nobody at TheGamer's office is all too clear on the details - not even the guy who plays Madden. Actually, we're not even too clear on who this Madden character even is.
Anyway, in the first episode of Ballers' fifth and final season (which aired last Sunday), Vernon expressed interest in getting into professional gaming. This sets the stage for a League of Legends story arc that will follow Vernon for the rest of the season.
Normally this wouldn't even gain our attention, but it looks like HBO teamed up with Riot Games to give this story arc some realism. Parts of the season are actually filmed on location at Riot Games Headquarters in Santa Monica, California, while others are filmed at the League Championship Series (LCS) Arena.
There are even cameos from LCS shoutcasters, players, and cosplayers. In the promo spot, you can see footage of real LoL teams like Splyce and Team Liquid, including player Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Echo Fox co-founder Rick Fox is even there in one shot.
That said, it’s a bit incredible to see a former defensive lineman just wander into professional esports. We’re not saying that jocks can’t also be good at video games, but the pros have typically played on a daily basis since their teenage years. Starting a pro LoL career in your early 30s is basically unheard of.
Follow Vernon on his bizarre LoL adventure every Sunday at 10:30 PM EST wherever you get your HBO fix.