Betting on League of Legends
League of Legends (or LoL) is the most popular computer game of our time. It is one of the largest eSports, both in terms of active players, as well as number of competitions and their prize pools. It is hard to find anyone who is into gaming and has not played League of Legends at least at some point. Moreover, many claim that League of Legends is the game that draw them to the world of gaming.
League of Legend’s Popularity
League of Legends was released in 2009 and it gained huge popularity right away, even though many suspected that its popularity would reach, such an unprecedented level. The game has been praised for the fast paced-gameplay and many agree that the developers succeeded in the attempt to make the champions (characters) as evenly matched as possible, which is seen as a guarantee that no team will have an unfair advantage. That is often regarded as the most difficult task for game designers.
The length of each match, usually between 20 minutes and one hour, makes the game fit to be a competitive eSport, as individual matches are neither too long, which makes matches watchable and suitable for betting.
In 2012 it was announced that League of Legends is the most popular game in Europe and North America. By 2014 more than 67 players from all over the world played League of Legends at least once per month, whereas up to 27 million played every day. In 2016 the number of players reached more than 100 million per month. It is clear that League of Legends is more popular than many conventional sports.
In the first three years after its release, League of Legends collected numerous awards, including but not limited to IGN’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best PC Strategy and Multiplayer Game, Gamasutra’s 2010 Best Online Game Design, GameSpy’s Gamer’s Choice Award for PC Game in 2009; then Golden Joystick Award for Online Game of the Year in 2010 and numerous awards at the 1st Game Developers Online Choice Awards.
With so many active players it is clear that League of Legends competitions attract large followings and the prizes that are received by the winning teams are quite astounding. There are currently a number of League of Legends competitions, including national, regional and international competitions. The number of viewers of the final matches in the most popular competitions is growing every year.
According to a 2016 statistics, there are currently over 4,000 professional and semi-professional players who compete in the top League of Legends’ tournaments, there are over 1,700 tournaments and the total prize money exceeds $29 million. Dota 2 is the only other eSport that enjoys a similar degree of popularity. All LoL Tier 1 tournaments are professional, whereas Tier 2 and lower tournaments can also be semi-pro and amateur, although it is often hard to draw a line.
The Championship Series
The first tournaments and competitions happened quickly after the game was released, but these were organised by third parties, often by gaming enthusiasts. During the first two years after LoL was released major tournaments were held in North American and Europe and the most successful teams of each continent later met in the World Championship, organised by Riot Games, the company that developed and published League of Legends.
When Riot Games realised how popular their game is, they decided to take matters into their own hands and from 2012 onwards, they organise the League of Legend Championship Series. Since there were similar competitions in the first two years even though they weren’t organised by Riot, the Championship Series of 2013 was named Season 3.
There are two separate Championship Series, North American and European, with the strongest 10 teams of each continent competing. The initial number of team participants was 8, but later it was increased to 10. There are matching regional and national competitions which take place in Southeast Asia, South America, Taiwan, China and South Korea.
Teams can be promoted to and relegated from the Championship Series which makes the format very similar to the leading national leagues in association football. The season is divided into two splits and each split takes lasts 9 weeks, there is a spring and a summer split.
The World Championship
The World Championship is the culmination of the competitive League of Legends season. It was established in 2011, it usually takes place in October and during it, the leading LoL teams from all over the world meet and compete against each other. In the starting season there were 8 participating teams, in 2012 the number was increased to 12, in 2013 14 and since 2014 there are 16 participants.
The prize for the champion is worth $1 million and in 2016 the finals were watched by a total 43 million people and the number of unique viewers taken cumulatively almost reached 400 million. In the past few years it is usually teams from South Korea that dominate the World Championship and claim the prizes.
If we know that millions of people are avid followers of League of Legends and hundreds of millions watch at least some of the matches, even on a casual level and if we add the estimate that this trend will only continue to grow in the upcoming years it is not surprising that LoL is not only one of the most popular eSports for betting, but it has a solid chances of becoming more popular than some traditional sports.
Most sports betting operators these days offer eSports betting and all of those that do offer betting on League of Legends. Betting on the Championship Series, the North American and the European as well as the other national and regional Championship series is available and so is betting on the World Championship.
But it is also possible to bet on matches of the other less popular League of Legends Tournaments, like the Challengers Korea, the European Challenger Series, the Garena Premier League and a lot more. The type of available markets usually depends on the popularity of the tournament and the audience it attracts. The more viewers equals more bettors and that equals more betting options.