All You Need To Know About the World Of Professional Gaming: League of Legends

Riot Games

Riot Games

Megan Vaillancourt, Professional Procrastinator

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Imagine sitting at your desk for hours on end each day playing various video games; sounds like your average weekend doesn’t it? But for a growing population of young adults and twentysomethings it is becoming a career. Professional online gaming has quickly jumped into the spotlight in the online world. One of the largest prize-awarding championships belongs to the Riot Games developed MMO, League of Legends. It averages around 67 million active players per month throughout their multiple servers across the globe. Semi-professional players even ‘stream’ their live gaming footage online, making a living off of advertisements, donations, and subscriptions. For the average young adult, dependent on skill, online gaming could quickly become a steady stream of income.

First of all, you may be wondering what League of Legends is? The general framework of LoL–as gamers call it– is session-based. Each ‘session’ or game lasts an average of 20 to 40 minutes. In a single session, two teams of five pre-determined or random players battle it out to destroy each other’s ‘Nexus’– the game winning objective. The map features three lanes: one at the top, middle and bottom of the screen, with a vast ‘jungle’ and other team objectives filling the rest. The game features 118 different champions players can chose from to represent themselves in game, each having certain roles to fulfill. In the classic mode, players have an option to play one of five possible roles: Top Lane, Mid Lane, Bot Lane, Support or Jungle.  The top, mid and bot lane roles play in the corresponding lanes while the support role helps the Bottom lane, and the Jungle role is free to roam the various locations on the map not covered by lane players. The goal of the game is to destroy the enemy team’s defense towers, inhibitors, and finally the Nexus. Additionally, teams are given the option to ‘Surrender’ after 20 minutes if a game has become completely one-sided.

Starting in 2011, teams from around the world battle it out once a year to make it to the League of Legends World Championships.  Just this past year, the monetary prize for the 1st place team was $1,000,000, which went to the South Korean team, “SK Telecom 1”. Every year interchanging teams of five from places such as Taiwan, South Korea, USA, and the collective UK compete to win the best out of three matches to advance in their bracket.  The World Championships are streamed live on websites such as e-sports favourite, Twitch.tv.  The Championships take place in large arenas around the world, including the Staples Centre in Los Angeles. Besides watching the gameplay live, devoted players and fans can buy game-related merchandise, meet their favourite players, and meet Riot Games staff. The event has become one of the largest places to network in the League of Legends world.

League of Legends has many modes in which to play, but the mode that allows for the most sponsorship is the Ranked mode. The Ranked mode runs seasonally, starting in the New Year and ending in the fall. ‘Summoners’, the name given to players in-game, play and win games to go up the ranks in hopes of gaining popularity and assert their skills. If a ‘Summoner’ can reach the highest rank, the Challenger tier, it’s possible for them to be picked up by a professional team. LoL features a ‘ranked teams’ mode, in which pre-made teams of five players play together to rise in the ranks as a recognized team and possibly compete in local championships in their respective countries. Many professional teams’ players choose to play individually in Solo Queue Ranked Mode; many stream their gameplay live online for additional income through advertising.

Taking it a step further, networks of gamers have joined together to create large professional gaming teams or organizations. In North America, gaming houses, as they are called, most popularly include Counter Logic Gaming, Dignitas Gaming, Cloud 9 Gaming, and Team Solomid Gaming among many others. Many gaming houses are actual live-in houses for gamers. Yes, that’s correct, about a dozen male twentysomethings actually live together in a house and play games all day. Gamers from other continents travel to the US to join various gaming houses on ‘work’ visas to compete.  Most of these players are sponsored by large technology companies who know that their products will reach one of most targeted demographics: youth. This way of lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular, as it has become surprisingly financially sustainable for many individuals. If playing the actual game doesn’t prove profitable, many players can find jobs working for the gaming houses, or even find a home at Riot Games. Once involved in the LoL community, multiple opportunities open up for these gamers. Imagine, from frying your brain and wasting your time to becoming famous online and making a reasonable income. The Internet and the world of major league gaming has definitely come a long way in a very short period of time.

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All You Need To Know About the World Of Professional Gaming: League of Legends