After ten years, esports giant League of Legends (LoL) holds the title of the most popular core PC game with 100 million players and viewers all across the world! It has influenced other multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as, Heroes of the Storm and SMITE. The history of the game is a steady climb in popularity and global reputation, but in a competitive gaming industry, how long can League of Legends hold the throne?
The game began developing in September 2006 and was inspired by Dota, a popular mod for Warcraft 3. The majority of the LoL developers came from Dota. Three years later on League of Legends: Clash of Fates trailer was finally Introduced to the public. On October 26, 2009, the game was officially released and removed the “Clash of Fates” suffix.
The first major milestone was hit on November 2011 when Riot Games announced that they had reached 11.5 million active players all around the world. By around October 2013, the game had reached over 32 million active players and was becoming the biggest and most popular MOBA game in the world dethroning Dota 2. On October 3, 2013, the third LoL World Finals became the most-watched esports event of all time with a global audience of over 32 million. And by January 2014, the game had reached 67 million active players and was is considered the most played PC game in the world, of any genre. Riot Games executives Quietly revealed that they hit 100 million active players in an interview with Polygon’s Phil Kollar. But Riot Games themselves never directly released player statistics since.
While the game has been incredibly successful, it has dealt with problems as well. One of those problems, common to online gaming, is known as “toxicity”–the harassment and verbal abuse or hate speech of some gamers towards others. The game has been dealing with this problem ever since Season 1 of ranked. Riot Games response is that they are well aware of the problem but they have no power to change it. The community is split on the issue, with some believing its really abusive while others disagree. Some players have quit the game due to abuse and harassment according to PWRDown.
While some people have been a thorn in the community’s side, that community–and especially the esports community–has also played a big role in League of Legends’ success. The very first Season 1 World Championship was won by Europe’s, Fnatic. Fast forward to the Season 3 World Championship where the G.O.A.T. of LoL, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, appeared. His popularity grew thanks to his 1-on-1 battle Against KT Ryu with Zed. That clip is one of the best 1-on-1 battles and made people excited to play and specialize with Zed. During season 3, 5 and 6 World Championships, Faker’s team SK Telecom T1 have been the champions, setting up an engaging storyline for the esports viewership.
According to Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng a professional LCS (League Championship Series) Player, the pro players are often ambassadors for the game, and for them, it is important to make the game more interesting and fun for the fans. The Twitch streamers like Yassuo can also make a huge impact for the popularity of the game. The Twitch Community is important for esports so that nobody has to miss the events that League of Legends has to offer.
The evolution of League of Legends Is similar to many other games with humble beginnings, but very few games get to claim the title of “esports phenomenon.” Nothing else has compared to the popularity of the LoL, and as of today, It is still the most played PC game out there.
Cover Image: Riot Games/League Of Legends