South Korean team of gamers takes top prize at LoL competition.
Imagine you are sitting in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, sitting in front of over ten thousand people watching your every move, and your every click, as you try and win the championship as the top team in the world. Not to mention the millions of people watching from home. You realize that a single mistake can cost your chance to win that last game to claim the prize you have been playing all year to get. No pressure, right? Try adding a $1 million dollar first prize. That is what happened last Friday night as South Korea’s ‘SK Telecom T1’ took on China’s ‘Royal Club’ in the finals of the popular free-to-play PC game League of Legends where the victors would claim $1 million dollars.
Unlike many other video games on the market, League of Legends is a game with a vast amount of strategy and teamwork that requires all five team members to select a superhero-like character from a selection of over one hundred champions. Team members then attempt to destroy each others’ bases. Riot Games, the creator, mostly makes money from the free-to-play game that draws over 32 million players each month by selling virtual items and characters that can change the look of your character, or help unlock new characters quicker.
The finals wasn’t much of a contest though, as South Korea’s ‘SK Telecom T1’ dominated China’s ‘Royal Club,’ winning three straight games in the best-of-five series. The team consisted of Jung ‘Impact’ Eon-yeong, Chae ‘Piglet’ Gwang-jin, Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok, Lee ‘PoohManDu’ Jeong-hyeon, and Bae ‘Bengi’ Seong-ung, and they were able to lift the Summoner’s Cup trophy and the $1 million grand prize.
The festivities kicked off with a musical performance by The Crystal Method, who composed an original song for one of the game’s champions. The duo was joined by an orchestra, drummer Joe Letz, bassist Danny Lohner, cellist Tina Guo, and former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland. Riot Games said that booking the Staples Center and the elite performances were less about making a statement to outsiders about e-sports and more about making the die-hard fans of the franchise proud of their favourite sport.
Riot Games runs its business with a focus on players and community engagement, and that night’s culminating match was further proof of how well that strategy has paid off. In just four years, the game has become a centrepiece in competitive gaming, knocking off giant franchises such as Halo, Call of Duty, and Starcraft, with players from all around the world fueling the intense—and now very profitable—community.
The shocking fact that people may not know is that Riot actually loses money on events as big as these. Competitive gaming gets players excited and keeps them committed to the game whether or not they’ll ever have a chance to play it on the stage. It can be related to the game Halo 4, which after the World Championships that happened months ago, suffered the biggest drop in players. Due to the lack of upcoming official tournaments, players have turned to other games. Lastly, the game is free to play, which allows anyone to be able to download the game and join in.
With Riot Games’ success in such a short time, it further shows how much of a future e-sports have in the world, and how gamers are now receiving recognition for their tough work ethic to earn the top prize.