Perhaps one of the most popular growing activities that we see people of all ages dive themselves in, is the e-sport game called League of legends. Whether you choose to watch this game like a sport or decide to play the game casually or competitively, League of Legends has a home for your interest. League of legends is an online MOBA game created by the company called Riot. The objective of the game is quite simple. Two teams consisting of five players battle it out to destroy the opposing team’s base. Just like in real sport, different strategies will invoke players to play different positions to be successful. Unlike other online e-sport games, the professional scene of league of legends has definitely been a hot topic in the US government, news channels across the globe, and especially family. Within the span of 3 seasons, which is the equivalence of 3 years, League of legends has exploded in popularity and branched out their franchise to different continents all over the world. But what makes league of legends so successful and different from other e-sport games like starcraft, that it would influence the community to expanded exponentially since it first began?
One of the most significant factors that attributes to League of Legends success is definitely family. One thing that should be noted is that Riot invest a minimum total of one million dollar, in US, each year, for tournaments that professional players play in. Many parents would never support their kids when it comes to playing videogames. Most parents believe that it is not financially beneficial and would send their kid to do a post-secondary education study. This would be the safest life choice to make considering that a profession in gaming is so scarce. But, family members are slowly realizing the opportunities presented by Riot is reliable. For Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng the support from his family came immensely slow. Although the most recognized and popular pro player in League of Legends, his struggles and difficulties are considered legendary. When he took his first step to becoming a pro player, his parents said ” you will die out there if you go.”1 Eventually, he got kicked out of his house for pursuing this career.
He was 17 years old at that time, with no job. He made his resolve, was determined to become a pro player, and became a pro player. Now two years later after facing many adversities, his minimum salary is approximately $100,000.00. In August 2013, Doublelift finally saw his parents for the first time since he got kicked out. In this reunion, his parents stated that they failed to recognized the opportunity Riot provides and is happy that he is happy and financially stable. Because of Doublelift’s story, many of NA’s current rising stars were able to take off the league of legends professional scene explosively. Parents are now more open-minded and supportive with their child’s decision to become pro, which also has a direct correlation with league of legends popularity. Obviously if the child becomes pro, his friends and family are more inclined to watch their games and support them like they would for their favourite hockey team.
However, family and friends are not the only support these players are getting. The US government has also recognized the increasing growth within this community and issued VISA’s to League of legends pro players on August 8th 2013. Danny ‘Shiphtur’ Le was recognized as the first pro gamer to receive a visa acknowledging him as an ‘internationally recognized’ athlete.2 This is the first e-sport game to have ever establish this. Other games such as Starcraft and Dota, that have been around longer than league, has never set such a precedent for online gaming as a sport or a profession.
Shortly after the releases of these visas, Riot President, Ryze, remarked that “we had to make a case that this is just like Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League. Weekly online broadcasts draw about 1.7 million unique viewers, that is almost four times an average NHL game gets. “3 These viewers also come from all over the globe, from NA to EU to China to Korea and a lot more. Riot’s effort to simulate League of Legends like a real life sport is commendable. There is easy access to player statistics and schedules on their main website, just like the NHL website. Four days out of each week there is always something happening in the league of legends professional scene. Games are always proactively on and VODs can be easily accessible through many free and HD streaming websites. These games have great commentators who analyze the game in real-time, just like hockey. They also provide in-depth analysis on major team fights. Those who are new to league of legends can quickly pick up what is going on, because of these explanations and great commentaries. But simply put it, when combining great commentary with a passionate and excited individual, it is evident that outsider who just happened to walk by would also be interested too. This is also one of the key influences that has impacted on the popularity of League of Legends.
But the key to the league of legends popularity is the Riot Companies dedication for success. Not only have they establish this gaming platform in North America, this franchise is also internationally executed. The president of Riot said this, “We’re going to start doing more global experiences with fans. We have five distinct leagues in China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe, North America and we just launched in countries like Brazil, Russia and Turkey. It’s a unique situation where we have a global sport that is tough to benchmark outside of any sport except maybe FIFA or the Olympics.”4 Their dedication to establish League of legends as an actual e-sport is commendable. Their efforts have allowed league of legends to be a part of the 2016 Olympics.5 Not just any event can be a part of the Olympics. If there is a lack of interest in an event, that activity that was previously apart of the Olympics can be discontinued, as seen with polo and tug of war. This definitely highlights the popularity of League of Legends.
To summarize, League of legends is growing in popularity because of the dedication for success made by the company and professional players. Without the efforts and willingness to purse this career by the pioneers of the professional players, League of legends would not have gain its popularity that it has today. Extensive efforts were made and is quite commendable. Thus, these efforts have been acknowledged by a greater amount of outsiders who initially thought League of legends was a joke.