LoL Worlds 2016 is over and we have witnessed an exciting time, amazing battles, higher competitiveness, and greater tournament quality than ever before. The competition offers something new each year mostly because Riot Games firmly decided to do their best to continually evolve and provide ultimate entertainment to ever-increasing fandom and players at the same time. like this years Alt-Streams. Let’s take a few moments to step back to the history of LoL eSports as well as to see what we can expect in the near future before the 2017 LCS starts in January.
Riot Games launched League of Legends back in October 2009, and they immediately attracted attention from aspiring players and hordes of followers. The first two seasons comprised of a series of tournaments that were mainly organized by third parties like Intel Extreme Masters in Europe or Major League Gaming in North America. Only the world championship tournament was organized and held by Riot Games.
In 2012, Riot Games introduced important changes that formed a solid basis for the tournament we know today. They announced the formation of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) on August 6, 2012, thus establishing a professional league run by the same company. This way, tournaments weren’t organized by third parties, but by Riot Games alone, the game schedule was regular, and players were able to receive salaries.
The very same year, one of the founders Brandon Beck discussed five-year vision plan for LoL eSports with Forbes magazine. He confessed the Riot Games would love to see League of Legends events and broadcasts matching the excitement and production quality of any other sports tournaments. He also expressed their desires to see players making history as well as team rivalries that contribute to the quality and excitement of these events. Beck also predicted that appreciation and understanding of eSports would be more evolved. It’s safe to say Brandon Beck’s predictions came true. Tickets for LoL events sell out in a matter of hours, team rivalries are evident, and players are making history, it’s needless to mention ever-growing fandom.
How they got here
According to Riot Games, LoL eSports succeeds by following this three-step path:
- Fandom – the continuous growth of this sport and popularity of tournaments wouldn’t be possible without loyal fans. All changes that are (and will be) introduced are primarily created to satisfy fans and their desire for super exciting action and quality of events.
- Economics – growth of fandom is followed by unlocking the sport’s sustainable economic future. The fan community provides the opportunity to build a profitable ecosystem for teams and owners. To continue to attract these investments, it’s necessary to create more revenue streams. At this moment, a major part of the revenue comes from media/sponsorships, merchandise, and in-game content.
- Stability – ensuring stability with partnered organizations and the proper structure helps create a healthier environment wherein sport can grow even more and evolve.
Every single change that Riot Games introduced in the past led us to this moment when we’re witnessing an impeccable organization of events, unbelievable excitement, and outstanding quality. Without necessary alterations proposed before, it would be impossible to build even better future of LoL eSports.
According to the official statement, Riot Games will continue to take steps towards a future where top players will be well-paid and have long and prolific careers doing what they love the most. The future plans also see team organizations as thriving businesses led by empowered owners who will be willing to share responsibility and accountability for the long-term prosperity of LoL eSports.
In order to make that happen, Riot Games will share revenue streams and establish strong collaborations with partners to start new business models and shape the league to be even better and more exciting. Riot Games want their new partners to be actively invested in the future of tournaments, to have permanent stakes, as well as to profit from the inevitable success of eSports.
Although LoL tournaments are more successful than those in the past, the current ecosystem isn’t consistently profitable for both the league and team owners. With the salary increases, costs have risen, and let’s not forget that perfect organization requires a lot of money as well. Starting with this year’s Worlds, Riot Games will make changes regarding the in-game content to create additional revenue streams for players and teams. They are:
- Championship skin & ward – 25% of income from each year’s Championship Skin/Ward will be added to prize pool at Worlds, meaning every purchase of Championship Zed will increase prize pool. To compare, if this rule existed last year, the prize pool would double
- Challenger skin – 25% of revenue from each year’s Challenger Skin will be added to prize pool of MSI.
- Team Championship skins – 25% of the income earned on skin sales will be shared with the players who inspired them, their team, and the league. Riot Games will also share revenue from past Team Championship skins with the previous winners (players, teams, and league).
- New and improved digital goods – next year, Riot Games will introduce new revenue sharing opportunities like team-branded in-game items and eSports promotions. Revenue sharing on summoner icons will also improve. These changes aim to address the problem with the gap in team revenue which is why in 2017, each league will have to set aside a minimum to each of its teams as it sees appropriate according to regional needs. For instance, EU LCS will have a minimum revenue of €100,000 per team for the entire LCS Season 7. Here, 50% will go to players as a form of supplemental income besides their regular salaries.
League of Legends events and tournaments came a long way, but there’s still a lot to do in order to meet fandom’s expectations, ensure stability, and to allow players to have the salaries they deserve. Bearing this in mind, Riot Games will introduce new revenue streams that will enable all aspects of LoL eSports to generate more income. This isn’t just about increasing the profit; higher revenue will also contribute to the even better organization of events. One thing is for sure; we’re going to witness a revolution of eSports, and it’s going to be exciting to watch.
About the Author: Amna El Tawil is a news reporter and a technology blogger. For the past five years, she has worked for major publications and TV networks in the Middle East, covering one of region’s hotspots. When Amna is not chasing after the truth amidst gas canisters, she can be found cheering her favorite football team on, or unwinding with some online gaming.