The essence of a sport is that it should be easy to learn but difficult to master – think football – and replayable in endless variations that depend on skill levels, team composition, the opponent’s skills and the strategies one chooses to apply. That’s also the claim that Riot Games makes for its League of Legends game, which it has built into a worldwide phenomenon with its own World Championship that attracts huge numbers of viewers and, now, brands as well.

“We are one of the truly globally integrated sports in the world,” Naz Aletaha, head of e-sports/global business development at Riot Games, told an audience at Advertising Week Europe (London, March 2019), where she explained how the multiplayer online battle game has evolved over the past decade to become one of the most played and watched of all e-sports.

“More than 200 million people have played or are playing League of Legends,” she said, and for many of them it’s become far more than just a game. “This has really become a lifestyle. This is their preferred form of entertainment, this is the time they spend with their friends, this is an art, this is storytelling, it is music, it is what they read – and to many of them, it’s sport.”

Player focus