Riot Games today announced its official League of Legends esports brand will be known as LoL Esports. The move will tie all of the company’s different regional tournaments under one umbrella in the moment of online-only esports. The brand will serve as the platform and voice for global competition for all regions, said Riot’s David Higdon in an interview with GamesBeat.
As League of Legends heads into its second decade, the new LoL Esports brand will embody the values that reinforce gaming as a meaningful life pursuit, Higdon said. LoL Esports will for the first time debut its own distinct logo and visuals, inspired by the aesthetics of Summoner’s Rift.
“In the past, we didn’t have the digital hub,” said Higdon, the head of esports communications at Riot. “Now it will have more ability to connect to what is going on in the regions. Even if you are in the U.S., you can follow what is going on in Japan and vice versa.”
Since its launch in 2010, League of Legends Esports has become the most popular global esport, hitting a record-breaking viewership of 21.8 million AMA (average minute audience, or the average number of individuals viewing a channel per minute) during the 2019 World Championship Final, Higdon said.
“We felt like we kind of hit a high-water mark last year, and we really started evaluating what’s next,” Higdon said. “How do we move into our second decade as an esport? We are creating an umbrella brand that really reflects the overall global nature of our sport, and I use that term carefully because it’s really more than an esport. It has a traditional sports background, but the entertainment value goes to our opening ceremonies, our videos, our virtual band with K/DA, which has been wildly successful, and last year with the Louis Vuitton partnership.”
He added, “We’ve been focusing on how do we take it to the next level. Then we hit COVID-19. We’ve had to do quite a bit of pivoting this year. Because while the game is showcasing incredible resilience, the sport itself obviously is facing some challenges.”
During the ongoing 2020 Summer Split, regional leagues have experienced significant year-over-year growth and commanded a larger online viewing audience as measured by AMA. A recent report from Stream Hatchet revealed a 129% increase in AMA among LoL Esports’ four largest leagues — LPL (China), LCK (South Korea), LEC (Europe) and LCS (North America) — on Twitch and YouTube.
Starting this week, LoL Esports will begin delivering additional entertainment through its enhanced digital channel — LoLEsports.com — along with three new video series, each with a different angle on global competition. Riot is launching LoL Esports video shows including:
- Weekly Rundown: A weekly summary of competitive highlights and new developments from teams and players. (Airing July 21st, then weekly)
- The Penta: Five of the best plays from around the world from each week of competition. (It debuts July 22 and then broadcasts weekly)
- Champ Select: A biweekly show that features a variety of guests who will advocate for standout players from their regional league. (It debuts July 23 and then broadcasts bi-weekly).
The LoLEsports.com hub will cover gameplay across 12 regional leagues and global events. Riot said it has over 800 professional players on more than 100 professional League of Legends esports teams competing globally. Each regional league is comprised of approximately 10 teams that compete against one another year-round over the course of two seasonal splits. Teams earn championship points in order to qualify for the two major international competitions: the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championship.
During the pandemic, Riot Games canceled its midseason invitational and replaced it with a 48-hour Streamathon. The viewership for the Streamathon was 38% higher than the year-earlier event. The viewership across regions has remained strong, Higdon said.
Right now, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in China is scheduled for the fall, but the company hasn’t said whether it will be held in person or digital only. The company is planning a public announcement in August.
“We’re going to have a slew of different content series, dedicated to a mission of building a global ecosystem,” Higdon said. “As a global esport, we could elevate the regions beyond what we’ve ever done in the past.”
Riot Games has 2,500 employees. The company launched League of Legends in 2009 and held the first League of Legends esports event in Sweden in 2010.