I was one of the lucky few to have actually ventured to the League of Legends Season 2 World Championships. And while the word “venture” may make it seem like it was a long journey filled with perils on the way it unfortunately amounted to me taking a taxi with some friends about 12 miles away, hardly epic.

Still as the 8000 others and I filed into the Galen Center Arena at the University of South California and eagerly awaited the start of the championship it dawned on me, “this is a big freaking deal”. After all just a few days earlier Riot Games announced that over 32 million people played League of Legends actively each month. 32 million! That number in itself is staggering, but the question remained “how many people actually care enough about League of Legends to watch the Championship?”

Riot reported the numbers this week and its a lot more than you might have expected. At peak Riot reported over 1,154,000 unique people watched the event through the stream. That is not counting TV numbers from outside the US. Once you factor those numbers in you get more than 8,282,000 unique viewers! WAAAAATTTT!?

The number is astounding for any sports broadcast, let alone an E-Sport. It’s safe to say that Riot has really tried to bring E-Sport to a level of mainstream unheard of in the western hemisphere. And while esports in general may not be a new thing, with quake tournaments dating back over a decade and Starcraft dominating South Korea, esports has never reached such a fevered pitch as it did during the Season 2 World Championship for League of Legends.

Not all the success for the event though is credited to just the game. Riot has been pouring money into E-Sport and League of Legends over the last year, paying out over $5 million dollars in prizes throughout Season 2 (which spanned about a year). This has turned heads and not just the heads of League players but the heads of prominent media as well. You could easily say that once a sport is recognized by outside media and referred to as a “sport” it is no longer a sport within the community, it is a nationally recognized sport.

As someone who has played League of Legends since the beginning (and by beginning I mean closed beta BEGINNING), it is truly astounding to see where League has gone in just a few short years. It harkens back to the mid 1990s when Starcraft Brood War was introduced and the South Korean E-Sport scene exploded. We are quickly seeing a repeat of this in the West with professional League of Legends players barely over the age of 18 making doctor level wages simply by streaming or participating in tournaments.

Whether or not the trend continues in the next few years remains to be seen. We could be seeing the golden years of E-Sports here with only disappointment and dwindling numbers to come or we could be seeing the start of a world wide revolution where E-Sports and their players will be held with as much admiration and respect as professional soccer players competing for the world cup. With video games becoming more and more prominent in households and multiplayer PC games becoming more and competitive in nature, my money is on the belief that E-Sports will, in some form or another, have a very bright future.

Michael Dunaway has been part of the MMOBomb team for years and has covered practically every major Free-to-Play title since 2009. In addition to contributing First Look videos and news articles, Michael also serves as the Community Manager for the upcoming MMORPG, Skyforge.


  1. I don’t see why everyone is hating on Riot when it’s the players that cheated right?
    Obviously Riot is new to the whole E-Sport thing, give them a break.

  2. i was there ;D on the championship , and on the semifinals 😀 it was fun , and well AF , cheated 2 times .

    And still they lost 😀 .

  3. Yea it was a big fking joke… If you really love gaming and think of all the games that have been raped by cheating…. Riot games is a joke and its sad to see all the stupid ppl that think this is ok… Its just as bad as a fighter cheating in the UFC, or a football player in the NFL, but this time its not only the players fault but its riot’s fault to…..

  4. I agree with cacalips Riot games is full of shit. that stupid team that was cheating should have never been in the finals.. That alone is a slap in the face to everyone who worked there ass off to be good at that game and to take there time to put on a show like this. I WILL NEVER PLAY A GAME FROM RIOT GAMES IN THIS LIFE OR THE NEXT!! And we are lied to every day from the news to some guy down the street so i don’t give a damn how meany “views” they think they had. Riot games is just trying to cover there ass for f*** alot of people over.

  5. I call bullshit. And you can smell bullshit by one word: RIOT GAMES. I highly doubt the had that many. A company that allows cheating is not going to stop to lie about in house statistics. Want proof? This is the third article I read and the NUMBER keeps changing…
    here is 8 Million: news.mmosite.com/content/2012-10-22/lol_season_two_finals_drew_8_million_viewers.shtml

    I read in another site 3 million… Horrible game.

    • The 1 million I cited was just stream views. If you notice later on in my article I mentioned 8 million being the total amount of viewers. 3 million I believe was the number of people that watched on television in South Korea and China alone.

    • Its the same statistics the different sites have been using and the viewers were damn high on both Twitch and Own3d not to mention that they have to count in all the numbers since they had different streams for different languages, not just english.
      Also Riot dont allow cheating, it was just a bad setup with the venue and how the screens was positioned.

    • Or you simply, like I did, read the official numbers from the actual forums. If you want to put on a tinfoil hat then by all means.

  6. I watched this, was pretty cool. I wish I could have been there. I still say the one moment in the tourney that was the most memorable was the poor bastard that was asked about what the score would be, “So, what is the score gonna be at the end? ” I think Frost is gonna 2/0 them” ” Uhh, thats gonna be alittle hard in a best of 5 but ok ” That poor guy. lol

    • LOL he said 2/1 to be precise. He was from Mexico though so he probably was super nervous and had a hard time speaking English.


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