Introduction to League of Legends Esports
League of Legends is one of the leading esports game in the world, also known by the abbreviation LoL. With LoL Worlds 2020 Group Stage starting on Oct 3rd, we reflect on the history of LoL Esports and let you know how it evolved into a global phenomenon from humble beginnings.
Riot Games has created the League of Legends and releases it on 27 October 2009. League of Legends is a MOBA game,the battle arena games which played in multiplayer online mode. League has taken inspiration from a popular game Warcraft III:The Frozen Throne mod.
The game is based on a fictional battlefield called ‘Summoners Rift’, game played between two teams with 5 players each. Each player has his unique characters which is called ‘Champions’, the goal of the game is to destroy the enemy’s Nexus which is base structure of enemy. LoL matches typically lasts between 30 to 60 minutes where Champions are known with the role in the game . Let’s take a closer look into the history of LoL Esports.
History of League of Legends Esports
Esports journey of League of Legends begins with its release on 2009 with the competition played online with LAN events which was hosted by Electronic Sports League (ESL), MLG and IGN . In starting the main competitors were come from Europe and North America regions,some of them become the most iconic eSports teams as we known. Teams like Counter Logic Gaming(CLG) and Team SoloMid (TSM) was Founded with the vision to compete in the emerging LoL Esports tournaments.
The very first LoL World Championship took place in 2011 with the Prizepool of $100,000 at Dreamhack Summer in Jönköping, Sweden. The first season of League of Legends World Championship had 8 participant teams in total where top three teams from Europe and North America, one team from Philippines and a team from Singapore who represented country at Worlds2011. Season 1 of World Championship was pretty impressive at that time where they have a total 1.69 million unique viewers to watch the final match between Fnatic and Against All Authority and the tournament venue was famously dubbed as Phreak’s Basement. The first LoL World Championship title won by Fnatic who beat Against All Authority (2-1) in grand finals.
Growth of League of Legends Esports Around The world
After the success of League of Legends World Championship Season 1 Riot Games decided to move into season 2 with the vision of player growth outside its domestic markets of Europe and North America. In late 2011 Riot Games launched two new game servers in China and Korea,both have the biggest gaming market in world. By introducing Korea in competition this reshaped the competitive scene of League of Legends beacuse at that time Korea has the most advanced eSports ecosystem in the world, StarCraft a real time strategy game was the massive hit in Korea market at that time .
As Riot Games were creating a competitive ecosystem for the League of Legends, season two was breakthrough of that vision. Season 2 of League of Legends World Championship established the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) which was based on Europe and North America, made up of 8 teams each. The LCS had featured as a promotion and relegation system untill 2018,when Riot games rebranded the European LCS to the League of Legends European Championship (LEC).
On the other hand China set as the world’s second- largest economy which brought billions of dollars investment in non-endemic ownership. League of Legends Quickly rises as the most popular eSports title in China where at the time of FunPlus PhoeniX lift the Summoners Cup in 2019 the domestic viewers watching hit 100 million. There are 12 professional leagues around the world, let’s take a look at them.
List of League of Legends Esports Leagues:
League name Region
- League of Legends European Championship (LEC) Europe
- League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) North America
- League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) South Korea
- Pacific Championship Series (PCS) Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and South East Asia
- League of Legends Pro League (LPL) China
- Turkish Championship League (TCL) Turkey
- League of Legends Continental League (LCL) Russia
- Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) Vietnam
- Oceanic Pro League (OPL) Oceania
- Campeonato Brasileiro de League of Legends (CBLOL) Brazil
- League of Legends Japan League (LJL) Japan
- Liga LatinoAmerica (LLA) Latin America
With establishment of professional leagues for regions, South Korea rise as the most competitive league with South Korea’s League of Legends Champions Korea(LCK) as compared to other regions. League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) sent NaJin Sword and Azubu Frost to the season 2 of League Of Legends World Championship(Worlds) with the Taipei Assassin’s which are the former reaching Grand finals but fall to become the champion. NaJin Sword and Azubu Frost disappointed the region, they showed that region has the potential to produce championship contenders.
In 2013, South Korean League of Legends begins the new era with the creation of two of the most successful teams in League of Legends World Championship history,Samsung Galaxy Pro-Game Team(SG) and SK Telecom T1(SKT). Lee”Faker”Sang-Hyeok, a young rookie make their debut as a Mid Laner during this time. Faker scouted directly from the solo queue,Solo Queue is a competitive mode in League of Legends which played by the public pool of players. With his debut,Faker dominated the competition throughout the regular season, he created one of the most iconic moments in eSports history of League of Legends,like during League of Legends Champions Summer 2013 finals Faker vs. Ryu Zed outplay in the Hot6ix.
SK Telecom T1(SKT) and Faker carry the momentum of gameplay into the Season 3 League of Legends World Championship where they has won the title of Worlds2013 by defeating Royal Club (3-0) in finals.SKT has won Worlds title two more times in 2015 and 2016 while they fell short in 2014 and 2017 and the title has won by Samsung Galaxy in 2014 & 2017. Let’s take a look into the past winners of Worlds.
List of All The Winners of League of Legends World Championship
- Riot Season 1 Championship 2011 – Fnatic
- Season 2 World Championship Winner (Worlds2012) – Taipei Assassins
- Season 3 World Championship Winner (Worlds2013) – SK Telecom T1 K
- Season 4 World Championship Winner (Worlds2014) – Samsung White
- Season 5 World Championship Winner (Worlds2015) – SK Telecom T1
- Season 6 World Championship Winner (Worlds2016) – SK Telecom T1
- Season 7 World Championship Winner (Worlds2017) – Samsung Galaxy
- Season 8 World Championship Winner (Worlds2018) – Invictus Gaming
- Season 9 World Championship Winner (Worlds2019) – FunPlus Phoenix
Invictus Gaming ended the era of dominance of South Korean teams by winning the League of Legends World Championship 2018.
Riot Games published official statement about the player base statistics in 2014 this is the last time when they published official numbers. In 2011 League of Legends have 5 million monthly players which increases to 32 million in 2012 and 67 million in 2014. If we go with the growth rate then estimated monthly players increases between 80 million and 115 million in 2019.
As we told earlier that 2011 World Championship have the 1.69 million unique viewers with the 210,000 peak concurrent viewers. After 8 years, in 2019 League of Legends World Championship has attracted the 100 million unique viewers with the 44 million peak concurrent viewership. 2011 World Championship featured a $100,000 prizepool which increased year by year, in 2019 Worlds the Prizepool was $2,250,000.
Let’s talk about the salary of the players, in 2013 Riot Games has released a statement where they introduced a minimum salary for LCS professional players was $75,000 which has risen to $320,000 by 2018 according to Forbes. During the LCS 2019 off-season, ESPN reported that Team Dignitas had signed LoL Top laner Heo”Huni”Seung-hoon worty $2.3 milion dollars for two years. This makes Heo”Huni”Seung-hoon one of the highest paid players in the League of Legends. It is alleged that many times Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok received multiple 7 figure offers from various regions like the LPL and LCS. Tencent apparently offered 10 million USD and someone from North America even went as far as to offer a blank cheque!
Certainly League of Legends is the worlds’ biggest esports game and will continue to do so along with Riot Games’ immaculate decisions regarding LoL Esports and LoL Worlds. Catch this year’s Worlds 2020 group stage that starts on 3rd October 1:30 PM IST with Top Esports vs Flyquest being the opening game.