League Of Legends esports boss on China 2020 and industry growing pains: ‘We are validated as a sport’

December 30, 2019

GameCentral reports back from the League Of Legends World Championships and speaks to Riot Games about Hong Kong and the future of esports.

While the total viewership is unclear for this year’s Worlds final at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, going by increased viewership during the groups stages it’s expected to dwarf previous records, with last year’s final in South Korea achieving nearly 100 million viewers.

It’s a number too enormous to comprehend when reeled off as a statistic, but the magnitude of the appeal of League Of Legends esports is clearer when you attend an event yourself. At the Worlds 2019 final, the 20,000-capacity venue was packed out with passionate fans stomping the floor and throwing up Mexican waves — all while people in cosplay as League Of Legends characters conducted the masses in national anthem singalongs and chants.

It’s a sight you’d only normally find at a huge sports final like the FIFA World Cup, but rarely with such a predominantly young audience. In targeting younger generations, but with opening and closing ceremonies emulating the spectacle of traditional sports events, the Worlds feels years ahead of its competitors. The Super Bowl half-time show might attract pop superstars like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, but Riot Games are forming their own international supergroups and debuting new tracks, while releasing new in-game character skins and staging futuristic performances using ‘holo projection’ technology to blend real-life with the game’s universe.

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