Last year, Riot Games’ League of Legends world championships was the most-watched esports event ever. For 2014, however, the developer wants to blow that record out of the water. In an announcement yesterday, Riot outlined their plans for the biggest League of Legends event of the year.
The League World Championship is the culmination of a year’s worth of the best play across the globe. With every major region getting multiple invites, and with every other region getting a shot at attendance through wildcard slots, the World Championship features the best players, the best strategies, and the most exciting games in the world.
Last October, the event took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Over 12.000 fans attended in person, and over 32 million people tuned in online.
Photo via Riot Games
But despite the massive success of the tournament, there were still some major gripes from fans.
The format, for example, saw the top four teams in the world sit out of the group stage with byes. Of those teams, Taiwan’s Gamania Bears and North America’s Cloud9 lost in their first round of the bracket stage, which means fans of those teams only saw a small handful of games from their favorite teams, rather than the more than eight game set that the group stage teams were allowed.
It was a relief to many, then, to hear the format of this year’s World Championship. Now, all sixteen teams that make it to Worlds (up from fourteen last year) will take part in the group stage—and nobody has a bye.
But that’s not the only change coming to this final leg in the League of Legends tournament. Last year, all the matches prior to the grand finals were held in smaller venues, either at Riot’s in-house studio or at the University of Southern California’s Galen Center.
This time around, Riot is aiming at spreading the show around. Not only will the event be held half-way across the globe in Seoul Korea, but the tournament will actually travel to Taiwan and Singapore as it leads up to the grand finals.
“We’re taking Worlds on the road and hosting group stages in Taipei and Singapore in September. The action will then move on to a quarter final showdown in Busan, Korea in October before the victorious teams emerge to battle it out in Seoul (home of defending champions SKT T1 K) in the semifinals and final.”
The actual grand final event will be taking place in Sangam Stadium, home of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Boasting a capacity of over 65,000 seats, not only does that easily triple the size of the Staples Center from last year, but it also nearly doubles the capacity of the ESL One Dota 2 competition at CommerzbankArena in Frankfurt. ESL One, announced earlier this year, promised to be one of the biggest esports events of the last decade.
As Riot Games has now proven, some records are meant to be broken.
We’ll have to wait and see if it intends to also break Dota 2’s prizemoney title (which now sits just shy of $10 million). But one thing is for certain—as the event nears, excitement can only grow for the largest esport on earth.
Photo by Republic of Korea (Koreanet)/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)