The last twelve months haven’t been kind to the organization of major events, and Riot Games suffered through several unexpected challenges, but it’s finally been announced: get ready for League of Legends Worlds 2021.
The incredibly popular championship for the huge game is bound to be one of the most popular eSporting events of the year, especially considering the rise in viewership in the last year. Let’s just say that eSports have arrived and are taking over.
The Growth of eSports
League of Legends Worlds reflects the undeniable fact that eSports are no longer a fringe or niche interest, a small market thing for geeky gamers. These stereotypes never worked, and now the numbers back up its potential.
According to Business Insider, the eSports market is going to surpass $1.5 billion by 2023. It’s a full industry that’s now bigger than some professional sports. It’s reached mainstream, and there’s no going back. Big names like Michael Jordan and Drake are championing eSports, while traditional media channels like ESPN are now providing coverage as standard.
The major factor? The social component of eSports. Live-streaming on platforms like YouTube Gaming and Twitch means that fans have a real-time connection to their favorite players and teams. Imagine being able to interact with LeBron James, Ronaldo or Lionel Messi during one of their games; it’s that kind of scenario.
Not only that, but teams have also become a little savvy about creating the tribal element that creates fervent fan culture. For example, outfits like FaZe Clan now have popular merchandising options for fans, creating a stronger brand and giving fans an opportunity to build that connection.
eSports are becoming so popular that they are ‘bleeding’ into other sectors. For example, eSports betting in India has surpassed some of the so-called traditional sports. It covers games like LoL, Fortnite, Dota 2, Call of Duty, and many, many more where players approach data analysis, form guides, handicap odds, and the moneyline just as they would baseball, football, or soccer.
It’s absolutely no surprise that League of Legends Worlds has reached the status of a proper flagship sporting event. Sure, it may not be the FIFA World Cup just yet, but let’s keep the emphasis on the word ‘yet’!
When/Where Is LoL Worlds Happening?
The short answer on dates: it hasn’t been 100% confirmed yet. But based on past events, it’s likely that we can circle the month of September on our calendars. Riot hasn’t been forthcoming with details, but the next month or two should clarify the situation.
However, we do know the final venue for the tournament: Shenzhen, China, as RiotGames unveils. This marks the second straight year that the League of Legends season will reach its apex in China.
Shanghai was the host last year, albeit with a very limited audience due to the coronavirus pandemic. The early rounds were even conducted in bubbles, with absolutely no spectators in attendance.
Considering the successful vaccine drives in the last few months, it’s expected that this year’s event will be able to manage a ‘normal’ crowd, even if not at 100% full capacity due to social distancing measures.
What Can We Expect?
The format for the 2020 edition is expected to be used this September, which means that for the Play-In we’re going to see a Group Stage with 12 teams participating. Using a seeding system, teams will be drawn into four groups. Using a Double Round Robin, matches are best of one, with the best two teams per group going through to the next round.
In the knockout stages, we have 8 teams left. Similar to what you see in the World Cup, the 1st placed teams from the Group Stage are randomly assigned a 2nd placed team. Teams from the same group won’t face each other, however. Once we’re in the knockout stages, matches are upped to the best of five series. The winners of these rounds progress to the Main Event.
The Main Event will have 16 teams participating, where once again we see four groups formed based on seeding. Similar to the Play-In, there’s a Double Round Robin, matches best of one, with the top two teams going through.
The Knockout Stage is composed of a single-elimination bracket, with the teams in 1st place once again going against those placing 2nd in the Group Stage. Best of five, you know the drill.
Finally, the Prize Pool. This is where it gets juicy. The total amount will likely be over $2 million USD, considering that the League of Legends World prize pool 2020 was $2,225,000 to spread out amongst the winners. Last year, the top team walked away with a staggering half a million bucks.
Now let me ask you this: does that sound like a fringe sports amount to you? No? Exactly. Time to work on those video game skills.