Dec 1 2014 - 8:00 pm

27 million people watched the League of Legends World Championships

The Riot World Championships is officially the most watched esports event of 2014
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

The Riot World Championships is officially the most watched esports event of 2014. More than 27 million people tuned in to the League of Legends tournament, which ran from Sept. 18  to Oct. 19 earlier this year.

That number is actually smaller than the 32 million who tuned in to last year’s version of the annual final. But that’s hardly cause for Riot Games, or esports fans, to panic.

For one, this year set a new record in peak viewership—at one point, 11.2 million fans were watching Samsung Galaxy White obliterate Star Horn Royal Club. That destroys the 8.7 million mark set last year, and represents a new esports record.

“I think we’ll see it go up and down, with probably the trend line going up over time,” said Dustin Beck, Riot Games' vice president of esports. “So many factors play into that, just like with any other primetime sport, where you see up and down fluctuations there.”

The World Series averaged 13.2 million viewers each day over the past three years. The Super Bowl, the most watched television program in the US, easily tops 100 million watchers.

But as Beck says, the viewership often fluctuates based off a number of factors. The most viewed recent World Series this decade came in 2011, between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. A crazy comeback in game six saw the final two games of that series top 25 million viewers, pulling it ahead of other less competitive years. Riot hasn’t managed to have that close of a final just yet.

The Riot World Championships brings together the best League of Legends teams from around the globe in a final that, this year, was worth $2.1 million. That pales in comparison to the lofty $11 million plus awarded at Dota 2’s The International 4, but League’s viewer numbers blew Dota out of the water—The International reportedly hit “well over 2 million” concurrent viewers.

Fans watched over 179 million hours of esports during the World Championships. That’s one of those largely meaningless—but still somehow impressive—numbers that seems tailor-made for infographics. But there is one consumption statistic that’s both important and “jaw dropping,” as Beck describes it—average online viewtime during the final match between Samsung Galaxy White and Star Horn Royal Club was 67 minutes, up from 42 minutes in 2013. Neither match was particularly competitive, with the Korean team obliterating their Chinese rivals in both cases, so it’s impressive to see viewer engagement increasing on such a level—especially since the games were broadcast before most people in North and South America were out of bed—broadcasts started just before 3am ET and lasted for more than six hours.

That’s one of the key reasons esports will continue its meteoric rise, even if events like the finals saw less overall viewers this year compared to last. That kind of engagement is increasingly rare in our always online, fast-paced culture. It’s the kind of number that advertisers dream about.

Riot Games would not share the geographic breakdown of the viewership, though it’s safe to say China played prominently considering the final’s proximity to the nation and the Chinese club battling in the final. But Riot Games did say that the average viewer was a male in the coveted 18-24 age range.

This year was also the first time the League of Legends final hit ESPN on the company's ESPN3 streaming platform. Beck says the sports giant was “really happy” with the numbers, and “pleasantly surprised” by the response they received from Western audiences, both in live numbers and through video on demand.

It was a big year for esports, and the Riot World Championships really was the culmination of it for esports as a whole, not just for League of Legends. These kind of numbers show esports has come a long way. Just last year, 4.5 million concurrent viewers on Twitch was a new record for the streaming platform—which Amazon purchased for $1 billion earlier this year. Riot Games drew more than twice that number for its finals, and likely hit that total on most of the 15 days of the World Championships tournament.

Eports is big, and Riot Games is leading the way. When I congratulated Beck on a successful finals, he laughed. “Now we just have to make it even better next year,” he said. That will be quite a challenge.

Photo via Riot Games/Flickr

Today - 1:25 am

Get your Red Envelopes ready—the Lunar Revel event in League starts today

Riot is kicking off the 2017 Lunar Revel with some slick new skins.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

The Lunar New Year is a sacred, historic holiday that is celebrated by nations in the far east. It marks the beginning of the year based on the cycles of the moon. There’s dancing, festivals, parades, but much more importantly: A special League of Legends event. Why is that so important? Because you can get sweet new skins, of course!

The Lunar Revel Event is a yearly occurrence in League that features shiny new goodies to buy in-game. The event was announced and started today, so after you update the client, you’ll be able to take part in the festivities.

1) Free Icon

That’s right, for the small cost of going to the official Lunar Revel web page, you can claim a free Summoner Icon! The interactive home page acts as the hub for the Lunar Revel event, and you can click through the menu to see all the features. There’s even some lore tying each of this year’s Lunar Revel skins to their respective champions.

2) Champion Skins

There are three skins coming out for the Lunar Revel event this year: Garen, Azir, and Vi. Each has a matching Summoner Icon available in the store.

Garen’s sword and rad man-bun make this skin what it is: Awesome. When he spins to win, a green dragon swirls around him. When he ults, the giant sword that falls from the heavens... well, it’s green.

Azir seems to be more of a themed skin specific to this year, as it’s the Year of the Rooster—and Azir is as rooster-like as any League champion gets. His soldiers are also made to match his skin, sporting golden armor.

Vi’s theme is “the green demon” and when she ults, a big green dragon swirls up into the air and slams back into the ground as she does. This one’s our favorite, but mostly because it’s the only time we’re ever going to see Vi in a ponytail.

Not only are those three new skins available now, but past Lunar Revel skins and bundles are in the shop as well.

3) Crafting

A brand new Lunar Revel crafting system will also be in the client until the end of the event. It uses the same crafting page as usual, where you open chests with keys you earn from playing games and combine shards to form skins and champions. You can buy a Revel Red Envelope for 250 RP and visit the crafting page in your client to turn it into a skin shard and one random relic.

The relics come in three types: the Pauldron Relic, the Golden Relic, and the Gauntlet Relic. Once you have all three, you can combine them into Epic Skin Shards (1350 RP skins), random skin permanents, Gemstones, or Hextech Chests and Keys.

4) Merch

Finally, you can visit the Lunar Revel merch store to check out some IRL event goodies. Want a shirt featuring each Chinese Zodiac with League champions instead of the usual animals? Well it’s in the merch store, as well as a collectible figurine of Lunar Revel Azir.

The event is running from now until Feb. 2, so be sure to log into the game and check it out!

Jan 19 2017 - 9:07 pm

After pre-season updates made the Jungle worse, Riot says ‘oops’ and promises to fix it

Riot’s dev team explains why the state of the jungle is so broken and how they plan on dealing with it.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

During the League of Legends pre-season, Riot made big changes to address some glaring issues within the Jungle. But it only made the situation worse.

In somewhat of a “My bad!” moment, Lead Champion Designer Andrei 'Meddler' van Roon explained what backfired with the jungler role. In his post, he comprehensively lists all of the reasons that the jungler might just be the most broken role in the game (sorry ADCs!).

The community has been complaining about the state of the jungler for a while now, but this is the first official answer we’ve seen from Riot on the matter. Riot said it very simply, and very directly in the Nexus post.

“We believe jungler influence over game outcome is too high.”

So what exactly is wrong with the jungler?

Impact

Perhaps the most significant issue with junglers before the pre-season was that farm-obsessed junglers became much too powerful. Monsters were too easy to kill relative to how great the rewards of gold and experience were. The dominant tactic for junglers became out-farming the enemy jungler, and whoever fell behind ended up hindering their team dramatically.

Back then, the rest of the team would attempt to help their jungler get ahead by getting an early kill on the enemy jungler, setting back their progress considerably. The team began to revolve around the jungler. This was a contradiction to how the jungler had been perceived in earlier seasons—as a supporting role designed to gank and help their teammates in lanes do well.

Riot wanted to fix that, so it lengthened spawn times on monster camps and made them harder to kill (but increased the rewards the camps give to compensate). The idea to push junglers to gank more than they farmed worked a little too well.

Not only are junglers ganking too much, but they also survive way too long. With new tools like the Honeyfruit plant and gaining health back with every smite, junglers just won’t die. They are able to farm more camps for more rewards and gank more lanes without losing enough health to warrant going back to base. This led to junglers gaining too much experience—with level advantages on lanes that they’ve never had before.

Game agency

The term “game agency” has been tossed around a lot lately. First, with the current feelings that ADCs are going through, and now, with junglers.

In a basic sense, the term “game agency” in this case is just another term for a role’s identity within the game. What purpose do they serve, and is it unique enough to feel important? The issue with ADCs right now is that they don’t feel important enough to the state of the game to have a unique identity (aside from being Lee Sin’s punching bag).

Junglers, however, have the opposite issue. Junglers and jungle champions have an identity, but it’s such a strong, outstanding identity that it overshadows the unique strengths and weaknesses of the other roles. They have too much raw power. It’s to the point that laners have become afraid of making moves on their lane opponents unless their jungler is preparing to gank, when normally they would only hold back if they knew they were outmatched.

This has something to do with the extreme rate at which junglers gank now, but combining that with the high sustainability, high damage items, and high level scaling makes for a frightening amount of power for one role to have.

Plans to reduce the overall power of the jungle have yet to be announced, but Riot did confirm that the plan is to knock the role down a few pegs.


So what can be done?

Well, Riot is taking responsibility for all the power it’s given the jungle role.

It is administering some short-term solutions, including lowering jungle experience rewards, cutting sustain across the board, and increasing the damage that jungle monsters deal.

Junglers won’t be able to live in the jungle for the first 10 minutes of the game without heading back to base, they won’t hit a huge power spike by leveling harder than laners can on jungle camps alone, and they won’t be able to gank quite as much.

These solutions likely aren’t the long-term solution. There will still be junglers that can clear the jungle faster, and we may just end up where we were before the pre-season—Farming Simulator: Jungle Edition. Farm-frenzy junglers could rise to the top, but luckily, it likely wouldn’t be quite as bad this time.

A long-term plan is in the works, and hopefully Riot maintains its clear and open communication as the situation progresses.