The new LoL Esports branding opens opportunities for Regional Teams
On July 21, the publisher and developer of League of Legends (LoL), Riot Games, announced the new global “re-brand” of LoL Esports.
LoL Esports serves to formalize a central brand that covers the entire global LoL competitive gaming landscape. It will be an overarching entity to collectively represent the twelve regional leagues around the world. The announcement of the brand coincides with the ten-year anniversary of professional League of Legends. LoL Esports will specifically produce international events such as the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), World Championship (Worlds) and the All-Star Event.
LoL Esports will also focus on digital products that relate to streaming, in-game integration and the broadcast, such as drops or Pro View. The leadership of LoL Esports consists of John Needham, Global Head of Esports at Riot Games, and his team. An advisory council of regional LoL leaders will provide input to the main leadership.
A Global Brand Grows Regional Viewership
LoL Esports serves as a central hub to connect the regional leagues. Apart from international competitions, regional leagues rarely interact on official levels. Local teams handle production of their domestic leagues and associated content. While they may cooperate on occasion, generally the leagues operate independently of each other.
Even for the aforementioned international competition, it is the host country that handles production. For instance, the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) production team handled the production of Worlds 2019, which took place in Europe.
LoL Esports now serves as a central hub that focuses full-time on the global landscape. Whereas regional leagues are often too busy handling their own scenes, LoL Esports’ reason for existence is to facilitate the holistic competitive League of Legends brand.
Cross-promotion is a core part of acting as the global hub. According to Riot, there is a 129 percent increase in major regions’ (North America, Europe, China, South Korea) viewership this year. Riot speculates that this increase comes from fans’ interest in leagues outside their domestic competition.
By focusing on this trend, Riot hopes to continue growth of all leagues (including less globally popular leagues such as those in Australia or Brazil) by encouraging fans to watch internationally.
LoL Esports will facilitate this goal by producing a weekly Tuesday news show that covers all twelve leagues, and releasing gameplay highlights on Wednesdays.
How Does LoL Esports Help Regional Teams?
By unifying the regional leagues under one identity, LoL Esports is then in a stronger position to represent leagues in negotiations or business deals than the leagues operating independently or in temporary agreement.
This can be particularly useful for smaller leagues whose more limited market may otherwise have difficulty attracting direct partners or sponsorships. By participating in LoL Esports, they can still benefit indirectly from any deals that LoL Esports secures.
For the teams and organizations competing within these leagues, the greater visibility afforded by LoL Esports’ wider reach can also attract more fans. More fans and engagements similarly provide the teams to, independently of the leagues, negotiate with sponsors or partners.
For the major regions who carry the bulk of LoL Esports’ viewership, the benefit is lesser but still present. North America’s LCS, Europe’s LEC, China’s LPL and South Korea’s League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) all have strong enough viewership and engagement to attract major brands as sponsors directly.
For example, State Farm and Red Bull sponsor the LCS, Kia Motors sponsors the LEC, KFC sponsors the LPL and Woori Bank sponsors the LCK.
On top of global partnerships, these regional leagues can also benefit from the larger production scale of LoL Esports. By relying on the wider scope of LoL Esports, regional leagues can make their occasional cooperation for creative content more frequent. This would be particularly helpful for a region like the LPL, whose English broadcast has struggled to find the same level of prominence as its Korean counterpart.
An example of promotional cooperation would be the LCS and LEC productions’ working together for the 2019 Rift Rivals event to create a rap battle music video. More recently, LEC caster Andy “Vedius” Day appeared on a segment for the LCS broadcast. With LoL Esports’ assistance, these types of content could be produced more frequently.
Additionally, more deals like BMW’s United in Rivalry partnership are possible with LoL Esports to act as the intermediary representing teams and leagues globally. The United in Rivalry campaign saw BMW partner with the League of Legends teams for Fnatic, G2 Esports, Cloud9, FunPlus Phoenix and T1.
Hopefully with LoL Esports, this type of major mainstream brand sponsorship becomes more frequent for esports teams.