League of Legends has been in competitive scene for a couple of years now , and is being commonly described as the preeminent global eSport and a major factor towards the industry’s legitimization. In North America and Europe, Riot Games organizes the LCS (League Championship Series), located in Los Angeles and the LEC (League of Legends European Championship), located in Berlin, respectively, which consist of 10 professional teams each.
Similar competitions exist also in South Korea (LCK), China (LPL), and some other regions. These regional competitions culminate with the annual World Championship. The 2019 League of Legends World Championship had over 100 million unique viewers, peaking at a concurrent viewership of 44 million, with a minimum prize pool of 2.5 million US dollars, that featured a collaboration between Riot Games and Louis Vuitton. As is typical for Worlds, the event was sold out. It was preceded by a Friday ceremony at the Eiffel Tower featuring the work of Louis Vuitton and a pre-match performance Sunday featuring world famous musicians.
The 2018 Mid-Season Invitational peaked at 19.8 million simultaneous viewers, while the finals had an average concurrent viewership of 11 million. League of Legends has been the most watched eSport, with total and peak viewer count that not only outdistance direct competitors such as Dota 2 and Fortnite, but other traditional sports events such as the Super Bowl.
There is no faster growing sport than esports, and there is no bigger esports tournament than the League of Legends World Championship.The run-up to 2019 finals in Paris has already garnered just under 4 million concurrent viewers for the league’s second semifinal match, making it the most watched esports event in history, per Esports Charts.
“Most people were very skeptical about esports, including a lot of people inside the company,” Riot Games Co-Founder Marc Merrill said in an interview with The Washington Post, recalling that he was met with “chuckles” when he would bring up the idea of competitive play. “That was something I remember very acutely.”
Now an international cultural touchstone for hundreds of millions of people, the idea of hosting a tournament was a matter of debate within the Riot Games less than a decade ago, when it was a little company in Los Angeles founded by a couple of college buddies.
For the last few years, Riot has tried to push the envelope for its live experience, rivaling events such as the Olympics — and arguably exceeding the World Cup and Super Bowl, with its technological innovation and production value. In 2017, the World Championship in China saw an augmented reality dragon flying through the stadium and last year’s event in Korea featured an entire augmented reality K-Pop vocal group called K/DA perform alongside its real-world vocalists.
Esports have reached the point where there are going to be similar operations to nurture and develop players who will bring prestige to their home country. Esports are considered to be part of the Olympics too in the future. It just makes sense, and because it’s relatively inexpensive, national teams will probably happen no matter in which direction esports goes economically.