October has been a massive month for e-sports. Over the last year the sport has been growing at great speed, and earlier this month it was finally recognised as a real competitive sport by one of the media giants.
The quarter-finals of the League of Legends World Championship were shown on BBC Three in the UK for the first time in the game’s history. The channel broadcast highlights of all four quarter-final matches played at Wembley Arena live on the BBC’s website. The coverage was hosted by Radio 1’s Dev Griffin and Julia Hardy, and casted by Leigh ‘Deman’ Smith, James ‘Stress’ O’Leary and Richard ‘Pulse’ Kam.
If you missed the coverage and want to catch up, you can see highlights of the quarter-finals on the BBC Three website. But if you just want to know the results, keep reading.
Over the last year, the fan base for the sport has grown faster than any other. In 2013, 8.7 million people watched the final online. By 2014 the number of people watching the final had grown to 11.2 million. This year, with the final being shown on ESPN, it’s thought that figure will rise again.
But TV coverage isn’t the only similarity League of Legends shares with more traditional sports. Like all other “traditional sports”, you can bet on whichever team you think will win. Betway are offering odds on who will be in the final and who will be the winner of the tournament alongside all of their football, horse racing and other sport betting.
As well as betting, the game even has a transfer market like football. A big money bidding war has broken out after Team Dignitas was forced to sell one of their teams. Two of their teams made it to the League of Legends World Championship, but the rules state they can only oversee one. That means they’ve had offers of over half a million dollars to buy one of their teams. Even more money will change hands when the transfer market opens at the end of October. It’s thought some of the big teams are likely to break transfer records to lure some of the pro-players away from their teams.
Although the prize pot of just under $2 dollars has stayed the same, the tournament has felt much more competitive this year. The competition was just too much for China’s number one ranked team LGD Gaming, and third ranked Invictus Gaming. The two Chinese teams failed to make it past group stages, the county’s worst performance in the championship ever.
Now only four teams remain. KOO Tigers who although were only formed last year have a huge amount of experience with Korea’s Seo-haeng “KurO” Lee.SKTelecom won in 2013 but struggled last year. They’ll want to correct that in the semi-finals this year. Of course not forgetting Fnatic, the winners of the first ever championship, the fans favourite and probably the team most people want to see win. They face fierce competition from Origen, who was set up by ex-Fnatic player Enrique “xPeke” Cedeno Martinez.
So as the audience grows, so do e-sports similarities to more traditional sports. There’s no doubt with this much attention the sport will continue to grow over the next few years.