Korea is widely considered the mecca of competitive gaming. Gamers, whose matches are broadcast live on television, are legitimate celebrities, appearing on billboards and as guests on popular shows. But are esports so mainstream that they even dominate Internet searches? Yes and no.
In the first half of 2014, League of Legends was the second most popular term on Google Korea, according to a new report on news site Han Kyung and picked up by Paravine. Only the popular Disney animated film Frozen outranked the Riot Games title, which is the largest esport in the world.
Keep in mind, Google isn’t anywhere near as popular in Korea it is in the rest of the world. Search engine Naver, for instance, controlled 70 percent of the market in 2013. On that site, League of Legends doesn't even register in the top 30 search terms. So League of Legends' high placement on Google may say more about who uses the search engine in South Korea than the game's ubiquity.
Regardless, there’s no denying that the game is exploding in South Korea. Korean teams are widely considered to be the best in the world and regularly win international tournaments, including last year's worlds. By the end of last month League of Legends had been the most popular game for 100 weeks straight in PC cafes, pulling in 36 percent of all gamers.
Korea will also host world championship later this year, which should help push the game to new heights of popularity. Played in a former World Cup stadium, the event will feature sixteen professional teams from across the world battling it out for the Summoner’s Cup. It wouldn’t be surprising if the game continued to work its way up the search engine ranks.
H/T Paravine | Image via Riot Games