Many western fans of the league of legends esports scene often don’t realize how small the talent pool is small for both North America and Europe. I won’t sugarcoat it, we barely can try to compare the possibilities of a player like, let’s say a Faker, breaking out on the Western scene (and that’s without starting to talk about infrastructure among other factors).
Let’s just put thing into perspective. The website op.gg gathers statistics about the number of games played per champions, among many other tools available for anyone. I chose to compare the number of champions played over a million time in the region for the last month. It’s not the most foolproof way to calculate the difference in players, but the numbers i found were big enough for me to stop at that.
In total, it’s 24 champions that were played over a million time in the Korean region, compared to the 8 of the Western region (It includes the EUW and NA servers, since the other western servers had too little of games played to be relevant). I’ll let that sink in for a bit.
Oh, did i forget to add that this humongous number, 6 of those champions were played over 2 million times each. Just for a small comparison between the regions, the european union and the USA together amounts to around 824 million people. South Korea contains 50.22 millions.
The Korean server require a Korean social security number to create an account, therefore foreign players are rare enough to be a non-factor in the number of players on the server. The impact of their culture where video games are the equal of regular sports on many levels is showing in the impressive numbers.
The amount of games played, and the number of players linked to them, shows that the chances to get better players straight out of soloq are way lower than in a region like Korea. The amount of players also allow the Challenger ladder to be way more competitive, and allow the entire ladder, from Bronze to Challenger, to be more precise relative to your skill level.
It’s not impossible for an amazing player to emerge, like Bjergsen that can stand toe to toe with his international competition, or the Incarnat1on of 2014 who dominated the soloq ladder of the West for an entire year. But players like that are rare, and it’s no surprise.
P.S. On a side note, i had a very hard time finding information concerning the chinese servers, since i don’t speak/read chinese. What i found was that there are 27 servers. 27. I guess Tencent, who manages their servers, got more money to spend on the players than Riot does.
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Thanks for reading,