One of the most played games on the planet, and considered by many to the best MOBA available; exactly how did League of Legends become the best of the best? The journey began over 4 years ago in July 2008 as the newly formed Riot Games announced the acquisition of $7 million funding from Benchmark Capital and Firstmark Captial. Describing Riot Games as an “innovative studio” Brandon Beck, CEO at Riot Games, said that Riot Games would be focusing on “delivering first-rate experiences to a targeted online audience”.
Moving into October of that same year Riot announced that players would get their first chance to sample League of Legends when the beta began in 2009. That same year they also announced that they would be attempting to break the highly lucrative Chinese gaming market through a partnership with Tencent, China’s biggest internet company. This left many European gamers worried they would be left out of the loop following Riot’s quiet spell for almost 4 months. It wasn’t until February that it was confirmed that League of Legends would reach European shores; made available under the watchful eye of European-based publisher, GOA.
Heading into July of 2009 Riot Games confirmed that League of Legends would be a free-to-play title, and for the first time, they explained their unique approach to the popular micro-transaction business model. A few months later Riot Games confirmed that League of Legends would be attending the highly popular industry event, PAX, accompanied by a limited edition reward for attendees in the form of 20,000 Twisted Fate skins.
The year; 2009, the month; October. League of Legends officially launches alongside its first preseason event. Heading into 2010 Riot had already confirmed the massive $100,000 prize for Season One and went into the GDCO awards with their heads held high. If they were proud heading in; they were ecstatic heading out. League of Legends scooped up a highly impressive 5 awards, including Best Online Game Design, Best Online Visual Arts and Best Online Technology. The awards continued to pile up in 2010 as League of Legends was also awarded with the highly coveted Free-to-Play Game of the Year by PC Gamer.
We’re into 2011 now, one of the most momentous years in League of Legends history. The Dreamhack tournament, a spectacle that attracted 1.6 million viewers for the final alone, concluded with FnaticMSI etching their names in history as the first winners of what is currently becoming the fastest growing competitive market in gaming. 2011 was also the same year that Riot Games released the famous League of Legends Infographic, an image that boasted staggering figures for the top MOBA game. 11.5 million players a month, 15 billion Champion kills; 10.5 million hours played everyday and a massive increase to the Season Two prize pool to $5 million. Just some of the other highlights in 2011.
We’re back at the GDCO again in 2012 and yet again Riot Games dominate the show winning several more awards in the form of Best Community Relations, Best Live Game, and Audience Award categories. Last year also marked the end of the biggest event in League of Legends history, the Season Two Championship. Over 8,000 eager spectators flocked to the USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles to watch Taipei Assassins and Azubu Frost fight it out for the right to call themselves World Champions.
Season Three is on the horizon and League of Legends is looking better than ever. Whether you’re a fan of MOBA games or you’ve never played any, you can’t help but admire the massive amount of accomplishments achieved in such a short period of time.
So, that’s the story. That is how League of Legends became not only the top MOBA title on the planet, but one of the most played games in history. There doesn’t appear to be any space for a MOBA competitor to shine through, despite popular releases such as DotA 2, but it’s not hard to see why when you’ve seen where League of Legends is coming from.
Are you a lover or loather of League of Legends? Do you have a favorite Champion or lane?