Esports in League of Legends has become something more than entertainment for a good percentage of the fans that tune into the games of their favorites teams and regions. As the game continues to grow, the aspects surrounding this game continue to evolve with it. One effect of the growing popularity of competitive League of Legends is the birth of Esports culture in different countries and regions. Take a look at how the culture associate with League of Legends esports differentiates around the world.
The Birth of LoL Esports Culture
League of Legends esports during its early days were nothing special. Players often didn’t have salaries but had small allowances which were forms of motivation for these people to play competitively. As such, the fanbase only consisted of players who really loved the game or friends and family from the players. However, it was the small fan-made tournaments that helped the game become what it is today.
As the game gained traction and large companies started sponsoring their own League of Legends tournaments, the number of people who would attend these games grew. Teams that would constantly make it into the top cut would become popular which built the foundation of its first-ever fanbase. That fanbase would be the foundation of the Esports Culture that we know today. The fanbase helped the teams grow, and the growth of the teams drew even more people to support the game until League of Legends wasn’t just a game anymore.
League of Legends Esports grew exponentially and the popularity blew up to the international level. Players would tune in on the internet to watch their favorite teams compete against other big names in the league. Fans attended in masses, wearing their team’s merchandise and carrying signboards to support their favorite players. Players also began creating chants so that they could cheer for these teams in unison.
Unfortunately, the more something grows in popularity, the more negative effects are likely to appear. Esports culture isn’t only about good things. Friendly banter turned into personal attacks, from critics rose haters, and from hardcore fans there arose the toxic fanatics. Esports began being a way of life for most people, living every day to tune into what’s new about their favorite teams. While these things have become widely accepted by the majority, it still leaves a large distaste in the League of Legends community.
Cultural Differences in Esports
Just as different countries have different cultures, regional variances also appear when it comes to how each country has developed in terms of Esports culture. More so when it comes to the differences between the Eastern and Western communities. For some regions, esports are purely entertainment while others view it as a source of pride. Learn how each region views their esports teams and how the culture varies.
1. Europe (LEC)
The European League of Legends community may have over 60 countries in itself but the esports culture in this region definitely has an identity of its own. Aside from the region’s trademark dislike for North America as a region, the Europeans are extremely proud of their superstars. The fans often engage with the organizations and the organizations do likewise with the fans. The entire LEC feels more like a family, more so than any other region in the world.
The region likes to share its connection through memes. The region also has a heavy emphasis on rivalries with topics such as NA vs EU, FNC vs G2, and Ocelote vs xPeke being hot topics during their times. Professional LEC players love banter, and the fans join in on this too. The LEC is more proud of their teams that consist of pure Europeans than those with imports as they love the thought of being competitive through sheer domestic talent.
2. North America (LCS)
The North American League of Legends Championship Series is the birthplace of the competitive league. For the League of Legends esports organizations, esports is a market. As such, executive decisions to bring in players are more of a business decision on how to make more profit. The face value of players is taken with more weight than the potential of rising talent. The USA has always been a melting pot for different cultures, so it makes sense that even their esports teams have players from other countries.
The fanbase absolutely lives for the memes. They value being able to have a good laugh rather than earning the pride of winning it all. Unlike in the EU, professional players have a higher standing than the fans and are not as interactive on social media unless when it’s addressing issues. Despite not having the same depth of passion in Esports as other regions, North America makes the most sales when it comes to merchandise which shows how much they support the industry.
3. South Korea (LCK)
Moving onto the Eastern League of Legends scene, esports culture is taken with more weight and the career aspect of being a pro-player is more dominant. Esports players take training seriously, with players reportedly only having 1 rest day every 2 weeks. In Asian League of Legends, organizations are at the mercy of the fanbase. Each and every executive decision can face outrage and criticism from its fans.
Players are also aware of this, with their behavior monitored not only by their organizations but also with the League itself. The fans are extremely passionate about their teams. For them, being a fan is a way of life and should not be taken lightly. They will defend their teams with their reputation at stake. Being the 6-time world champions, victory is the only option that their teams should be striving for no matter what.
4. China (LPL)
The League of Legends Pro League has generally the same Esports culture as the LCK. However, the biggest difference is the intensity of passion that the fans have for the game. The fanbase is literally the master of the region. Everything that makes the LPL a successful League of Legends region is because of the passion of the fans. The League of Legends scene is so big in the country that the professional League of Legends players makes the top cut of the country’s Most Influential People magazine which pits them against celebrities and athletes.
Chinese League of Legends is equivalent to the NBA for America. Organizations will have their own Stadium, where players will be playing Home/Away games with each other. Looking inside these stadiums will feel like walking into a museum or exhibit, with cutouts of players and different org merchandise are put up on sale. There are also organizations that will give you gift packs as a Thank You from the organization for attending and supporting the team. China has the biggest and liveliest esports scene in the World.
5. Vietnam (VCS)
Vietnamese League of Legends has always shown itself to have a passionate fanbase as well. The fans love Vietnamese players, regardless if they are playing in the VCS or as imports in other Leagues. Each player also feels the same way, even if they’re not playing in their own League, they carry the honor of representing their country. You’ll often find them cheering passionately for their teams in YouTube live streams.
6. Brazil (CBLoL)
Similar with Vietnam, Brazilian League of Legends are hardcore fans. Despite being a minor region, they have the utmost faith in their teams and love seeing even the smallest achievements in international tournaments. League of Legends is also pretty popular in the country, with the total population of players in the Brazilian server reaching over 60 million active players in 2020.
Effects of The Differences in Esports Culture
The differences in Esports Culture doesn’t only affect the fanbase or its players. There are different ways the differences in these cultures affect the League of Legends scene internationally. We can see its effects on social media, tournaments, and even in esports as a career choice. Right now, League of Legends has become a business model not only for Riot Games but also for multiple companies around the world that depend on it. Here’s how Esports Culture affects us internationally.
Media & Entertainment
The media is heavily affected by the rise of Esports. Major news outlets such as ESPN have been covering various Esports tournaments and latest news such as roster changes and issues regarding pro players. Esports gossip is also a popular trend on the internet with the netizens talking about inter-organization drama. People have also started making talk shows and podcasts to keep the people updated on these topics.
The entertainment sector has also been widely influenced by the rise of esports. Aside from streaming and esports match viewing, the esports music industry has been slowly gaining traction. Groups like K/DA, True Damage and singers like Chrissy Constanza are popular topics with titles that even non-esports fans are familiar with. People on the internet have even joked about Riot Games being their favorite music company.
Merchandise & Products
League of Legends merchandise including figurines, clothing, and trinkets like keychains are a common sight in busy streets. Esports organizations merchandise are the more popular choice since it allows players to support their favorite teams while staying classy. Even Louis Vuitton has partnered with League of Legends in order to bring the fashion industry into esports that led to the creation of the True Damage skin line.
Aside from clothing, the tech and gadget market has been the biggest winners of the rising esports popularity. Gaming Chairs, Headsets, Smartphones with League of Legends related logos and artwork are now flooding the market. Limited edition products like the Worlds 2020 Oppo Phone have sold out in the few day it was released which makes each of us wonder how much people are willing to spend for the sake of keeping up with the trend.
Career choices have broadened thanks to Esports and we’re not even talking about being Pros or Streamers. The esports industry has opened up job opportunities for different kinds of talents such as analysts, journalists, social media managers, esports mental care, esports physical training, video editing, talent agency, and so much more. People are now findings ways to make money while playing the game that they grew up to love so much.
In this age, gamers are more commonly know on their IGNs than real names. Outside of esports, you’d probably also call your friends by their IGNs, unless it’s something explicit, of course. People are also starting to name their children using video game characters. IGN’s are becoming more permanent, in a sense that players prefer using one IGN for all the games they play so that friends that know them might be able to recognize them in the game.
Esports Culture Moving Forward
Esports culture will continue to evolve, affecting our everyday lives even more so than we could ever imagine. With the gamers’ generation slowly taking over a good percentage of the population, there will come a time when video games and esports are as important to a country as sports are today. The world is slowly adapting to the growth and changes that come with the esports culture, with non-esports personalities even starting to become fans of the game.
The professional scene is becoming more heated by the year, and every country is becoming hungrier for victory. While China and Korea continue to dominate the international tournament scene, the western leagues and minor regions are slowly growing stronger and more consistent as the months go by. It’s only a matter of time when the world will get involved in this massive race for most titles, and everyone will soon be a competitor for the title.
Why is eSports culture important?
Esports culture signifies the growth of video games as an internationally recognized way of life. Companies like Riot Games have always set the bar for how esports can set an impact in our everyday lives. Esports culture should be a topic that’s discussed since it introduces the world as we know it in an ever changing time.