‘League of Legends’ World Championships Elevates eSports Scene to the Masses

by Alek Sanchez

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In front of a sold out Staples Center crowd, 13,000 fans watched live as Korea’s SK Telecom T1 took home the $1 million prize for the third season of “The League of Legends Championship Series.” SKT T1 managed to overcome teams from China, Europe and North America, earning them a spot in the finals where they faced even stiffer competition. In a polarizing display of mechanical skill and precision, SKT T1 was able to sweep China’s Royal Club, going 3-0 in a best of five series.

After this wonderful spectacle put on by “League of Legends” developer Riot Studios, eSports gained more national attention. Viewership has been steadily increasing over the years, and live events have been selling out faster. This season, audiences were blessed with an even stronger analyst and commentator crew to enhance the experience. From in-depth play-by-plays to instant replays, the level of production for the World Championships has been top-notch. A full-blown analyst desk was also introduced to give a new level of insight to the audience. Riot Studios is all about building an experience. From the fan interaction to the atmosphere of a live venue, the overall energy and excitement from watching the World Championship live was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Though the scene in the U.S. is not as on par as some of the Asian countries, where competitive video games are televised and recognized as a national sport, the competitive gaming scene has gained traction in the U.S. throughout the past couple of years. An eSports feature will also be shown on a future episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” We are at a high point in eSports right now, and “League of Legends” stands as one of the most played and watched games today. Ask around and you’ll be surprised at the amount of people who play or know someone who plays the game.

Professional gaming is not free from its stereotypical stigma, but it’s grown and become more acceptable and commonplace in today’s culture. Grab a game, a webcam and a winning personality and join the thousands of others in the “streaming” community. Streaming allows viewers at home to watch the “streamer” play the game from his or her point of view, adding a unique personality to the gaming experience. Those who are able to bring in a significant amount of viewers can earn a steady amount of revenue, simply for playing a game they love. And yes, it can be a job, career or whatever can be made of it. There are hours, schedules and practices and at the end of the day we are watching the best of the best do what they do.

The future of professional gamers can become bleak fast, however, as the game of today might not be the game of tomorrow. “League” is just about to wrap up its third competitive season at the end of the month, and fans are hoping for many more successful seasons to come. We are lucky enough that Riot Studios has put in the man-hours and effort to keep “League of Legends” refreshing and engaging to players new and old. And it’s a big treat to experience a presentation like the World Championships.

Without “League of Legends,” I don’t know what my friends and I would be playing these days’ aside from the recently amazing “Grand Theft Auto V.” As much flak as the “League of Legends” community gets for its toxic and abusive nature, it really is a team game. Imagine you and four friends matched up against five others, seeing who can out-play the other. It doesn’t get any better than that. I’m proud to say that, not only as an avid “League of Legends” player, but also as someone who has seen the competitive video game scene grow from LAN tournaments where you had to bring your own desktop, to the console-dominated rise of Major League Gaming, “League of Legends” has united a world community. No matter what language is spoken, we can all sit down and cheer on as the two best teams in the world duke it out for a million dollars.

Information about “League of Legends” can be found at leagueoflegends.com.

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