Words by Ann-Marie Corvin
The pandemic meant the League of Legends World Championships went virtual. In this case, virtual meant bigger and better
he League of Legends World Championship, affectionately known as ‘Worlds,’ is probably the biggest fixture on the esports calendar, broadcast globally in more than 19 languages. In a regular Worlds year, audiences are treated
to the grandeur of a multi-city show, attended by thousands of hardcore fans who are as much a part of the spectacle as the competition itself. The show has around 40 distribution outlets, including Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook in the west, but others include cable networks in South America and Korea, as well as the Chinese video-sharing website Bilibili. The 2019 tournament pulled in almost 100m concurrent viewers at its peak, with an opening ceremony beginning the final that has become a technical showcase for organiser and League of Legends publisher Riot Games (see boxout). The coronavirus pandemic meant that Riot had to reconfigure the tournament and rethink its production methods. Worlds 2020 took place in just two buildings: a fan-free Shanghai Media Tech Studio and the city’s Pudong stadium hosting the finals that housed a live audience of around 6,000 socially distanced fans (a vast reduction compared to the usual crowd of 15,000).
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