The crowd goes wild, more than 20,000 voices mixing together to deafen the excitement of the commentators. Every person in the stadium faces forward, attentive to the game being played before them. While this might sound like the typical scene at a sports game, it also describes the season two League of Legends world championships that took place last Saturday at the Galen Centre in Los Angeles.
So what exactly is League of Legends (LoL)? It is a “multiplayer online battle arena” (MOBA) meaning that players face off against each other, generally in teams of three or five. The objective of one team is to destroy the other team’s Nexus. In order to do this, a team must go through multiple turrets that block the path to the Nexus, possibly engaging in combat with other players and minions along the way. As players defeat enemies they gain levels, strengthening their characters.
In addition to the around 20,000 live spectators at the championships, millions watched a stream of the finals, waiting to see the results in the match between Taiwanese team Taipei Assassins and South Korean team Azubu Frost. These teams persevered to get to this point, rising to the top in their regions and then beating teams from other areas of Asia, Europe and North America throughout the tournament.
In the end, only one team could prevail, gaining not only prestige for their team and country, but also $1 million and the Summoner’s Cup, a massive intricate trophy. In the end, the Taipei Assassins, seen as the underdogs in the competition, were the ultimate victors. They lost the first game in the best out of five final, but came back to win the next three games, clinching their victory.
While LoL has been around since 2009, it seems to be currently soaring into popularity. Riot Games, the company behind LoL, recently released some statistics saying that there are 70 million registered players, 12 million of which are active daily. This popularity could be attributed to the fact that the game is free to play, with money only necessary if players want to purchase points they could otherwise gain more slowly. It is also clear that Riot puts lots of support into their game, constantly releasing updates and new characters (there are currently 105 to choose from).
The amount of variety and constant changes in gameplay seem to keep players coming back for more. The enthusiasm of its player base is also helping League of Legends grow, as can be seen from the popularity of the recent world championships.