The expanding world of League of Legends
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
This weekend saw 6,000 fans watch live sport in a stadium in Shanghai, those that attended were among the lucky ones who managed to snag a ticket for the League of Legends World Finals. Tickets sold out in minutes, with nearly 2m registering for the tickets in the first 12hrs. This was the 10th anniversary of League of Legends and over that period Riot Games, owner of the game, has seen its creation rise and rise, notably being named number 12 in SportsPro's 50 most marketable properties.
This year, like many sports, LoL was drastically altered by the pandemic, but Riot managed to get the 12 regional leagues it operates back playing by late March after moving to remote, online-only operations. Moves like this will have helped, with Riot claiming the 2020 season has seen a 30% increase in viewership vs its forecasted 20%.
In September, to drive hype around the World Finals, Riot dropped the Worlds 2020 anthem, which had over 100,000 fans tune in to watch the live premiere and to date, the video has amassed over 23m views on YouTube. As the World Finals approached, one of the main talking points is what will the opening ceremony be like. Well, Riot didn't disappoint. Known for its theatre, technology and choreography, this year's opening ceremony set another benchmark, bringing the world of LoL to life for those in the stadium and for the millions watching at home. You can rewatch the opening ceremony here.
This year saw more brands than ever involved, with major players Mastercard, Louis Vuitton, Bose, Spotify, Mercedes-Benz and Red Bull all containing to maximise their sponsorships and add value to the LoL community. Mastercard thanked the fans, Louis Vuitton created the next edition of their trophy case and Red Bull took the opportunity to try and widen the world of esports by creating a simplified live stream. While all brands will still be adding up the numbers, I'm sure many of them will be extremely happy about how their brands showed up and how fans interacted with them.
A relevantly new brand in the esports space is Ducati. The motorbike brand launched a collaboration with the League of Legends' music group K/DA. The newly designed Ducati appeared in the opening ceremony celebrations as one of the K/DA members rolled on to set riding the limited edition. Sounds like a straight forward execution right? But then you release that K/DA are a virtual K-pop group, who have taken the world by storm since their introduction in 2018, securing over 400m plays of their music. The group are due to release their first album on Nov 6th, with developer Riot releasing the group's new video for their single 'More' last Weds (which the Ducati bike featured in), which has already seen over 21m views.
Away from esports more and more brands and famous faces are turning to gaming and esports to connect with their audiences, this week alone has seen Gucci continue its association with gaming by launching its new Sneaker Garage for Gamers and US Presidential candidate Joe Biden used Fortnite to reach voters.
And let's not forget the winners, South Korea's DAMWON Gaming, favoured from the start took the final win with a convincing 3:1 victory over China's Suning.
Why it matters
As the uncertainty around live traditional sports continues, more and more are turning to esports and gaming to fill the void. It has taken League of Legends 10 years to get to this point, and it looks like they will only go from strength to strength. More fans, more brand partners, more teams, more amateur players hoping to make the cut. Now more than ever is the time to take esports and gaming seriously.