League of Legends is considered one of the top titles in the video game industry. Developed by California studio Riot Games and released in 2009, League of Legends is now looking stronger than ever before more than a decade into its existence.
League of Legends is consistently growing and every year it attracts more players. Despite having a considerable learning curve, LoL could be considered easier to pick up than some other MOBA titles.
Staying relevant in such a competitive industry is not an easy feat, but LoL has achieved it. The community includes millions of players across the world of all backgrounds. Riot has released many statistics related to player counts, so we often know how many players are fighting on Summoner’s Rift.
Two years after its release, Riot shared the first player statistics for League of Legends. According to that first report, the game had over five million registered users. The player count peak at a time used to be three million players. Those numbers would continue growing as the developer created more servers around the world.
By 2014, League of Legends had 67 million monthly players and a peak of over eight million.
League of Legends experienced a decline in popularity in 2017, as the game lost a significant part of its player base. The monthly count of players would oscillate between 75 and 80 million in the following years.
In 2019, Riot proudly announced that League of Legends had surpassed the eight million player peak. Riot is yet to release any statistics about 2020, but it’s known that League is attracting big numbers of players, to the point that some of Riot’s servers are at risk of collapsing. Riot has reported issues with different servers because of the sudden influx of players this year. EUW, one of the largest servers, has stopped working at multiple points as a result.
The growth of League of Legends has been generally steady despite some brief periods of variance. Riot now wants to enter more markets and will release a mobile version of the game called Wild Rift. This new version of the game is a lighter take on League of Legends with shorter games, and should serve to only further increase the title’s reach.
League of Legends and Dota 2 are the biggest games in the MOBA genre, and no other game comes even close to these giants.
League of Legends’ player base is significantly larger, and it hits peaks of over eight million players per day. That number includes players from servers controlled by Riot, Tencent, and Garena. China has multiple servers within the country, including a server exclusively purposed for players ranked above Diamond 4.
League of Legends is a popular game in China and it attracts millions of viewers to its professional game broadcasts. It’s a common practice to exclude the Chinese audience when sharing statistics because that market is so much larger than any other markets in the rest of the world. In South Korea, League of Legends remains the most played game in PC bangs with 47.98% of such players sticking with it.
For professional League of Legends players, it all comes down to the Worlds Championship. It’s the biggest and most important event of the year, the one that every team and player aims to win. In the case of the Dota 2 players, the equivalent is The International. The question is, which one is bigger?
According to stats by ESCharts, TI9 peaked at under 2 million viewers in 2019. The LoL World Championship final peaked at almost four million viewers that same year, excluding Chinese platforms. If we count Chinese viewers, that number goes up to an incredible peak of 44 million current viewers. The finals were broadcast in 16 languages on 20 different platforms.
One category where TI9 beats the World Championship is the prize pool. TI9’s prize pool was $34 million, compared with World’s $2 million. PSG.LGD, who placed third at TI9, earned more money than all of the teams competing at Worlds combined. While this is significant disparity, there are other factors to take into consideration, like players’ salaries. Top contracts in League of Legends typically pay better than those in any other esport, and there are far more stable professional spots open in League of Legends than in Dota 2.
Afreeca Freecs’ top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in is rumored to have signed a contract with a $1 million yearly guaranteed salary. This is a salary for a player in a middling team in Korea, one that is unlikely to even attend Worlds. Kiin is not the best-paid player in the LCK, either. Before becoming a part-owner, T1’s mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok was rumored to have a $3 million annual salary. Players are also provided housing and food throughout the entire year by most organizations, which also pay for bootcamps and other necessities. Overall, the life of a League of Legends pro player is much more stable, and there are more spots to go around.
In 2021, the LCK will transition to a franchise model. The LCK is the last of the major regions to adopt this model. Through franchising, Riot can almost guarantee the future of its competitive scene. The developer has secured long-term partners that are willing to invest big money into various teams and leagues the world over.
The biggest success seen through franchising is the LEC. The European league has one of the best production teams in the esports industry. Its broadcast is full of original content that integrates partners and brands without losing a fresh and native energy. Every weekend, the LEC registers at least 90,000 peak viewers, a consistent number that only helps to attract more partners. Even minor regions like Brazil are reporting numbers above 60,000 viewers, showing the depth of the game’s audience internationally.
The growth of the League of Legends competitive scene is fundamental in keeping players interested in the game. Of course, not every player is an esports fan, but Riot manages to engage its players with in-game missions that involve the esports side.
Throughout the year, League of Legends also has several in-game events that include new game modes. Some of these, such as URF, prove to be very popular and help to bring players back to the title.
The future of League of Legends looks promising, and many of the game’s players are ready to spend more time on Summoner’s Rift.