Last year’s League of Legends World Championships posted world record numbers, including an incredible audience of 8.2 million and 1.1 million simultaneous viewers. That’s the kind of attention most television shows would kill for.
There’s no reason to believe this year’s event won’t break eSports records once again—and yet almost no one in the mainstream media is writing about it.
The League of Legends Season 3 World Championships kicked off this week. The grand finals will take place in a sold-out Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, where the winning team will walk off with an impressive $1 million prize.
Fourteen top teams from around the world have descended on L.A. to compete for $2 million in total prizes. The competition’s opening day attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.
“The #Worlds hashtag trended third in the United States above NFL games at certain times,” reported Gamespot’s Rod Breslau, and Reddit’s League of Legends community was the site’s most active.
The Koreans in SK Telecom T1 and the Chinese in OMG are leading a powerhouse Group A in the standings. Two big European teams, Fnatic and Gambit Gaming, are currently sitting atop Group B. The two top teams from each group will advance to the brackets, where they’ll face the four teams who have earned a bye straight to the final stage of the championships.
This year’s championship event is getting a lot of praise from viewers for the increased role of post-game analysis. The analyst’s desk has given players of all levels great insight into a game with potentially intimidating depth.
Riot Games, League of Legends’ publisher, has said that the championship series is not profitable.
“Riot won’t divulge exactly how much money it is putting into the LCS, but the total prize pool for Season 3 amounts to $8 million alone,” reported VentureBeat. “That’s before the cost of booking a venue, paying a production staff, and logistics.”
However, given the intense interest it generates and the massive audience it reaches, the championship series is the perfect loss leader: Riot spends a few million to create an unparalleled eSports experience and reaps the rewards for the rest of the year in the form of millions of players who cannot get enough.
Photo via Riot Games