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League of Legends

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This article is about the video game. For the darts tournament, see BetFred League of Legends.
"LoL" redirects here. For other uses, see Lol (disambiguation).
League of Legends
League of Legends logo.png
Developer(s) Riot Games
Publisher(s) Riot Games
Director(s) Tom Cadwell
Producer(s) Steven Snow
Travis George
Designer(s) Christina Norman
Rob Garrett
Steve Feak
Artist(s) Edmundo Sanchez
Troy Adam
Paul Kwon
Writer(s) George Krstic
Composer(s) Christian Linke
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X
Release date(s)
  • WW: October 27, 2009
Genre(s) Multiplayer online battle arena
Mode(s) Multiplayer

League of Legends (abbreviated LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games for Microsoft Windows and OS X. The game follows a freemium model and is supported by microtransactions, and was inspired by the Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne mod, Defense of the Ancients.[1]

In League of Legends, players assume the role of an unseen "summoner" that controls a "champion" with unique abilities and battle against a team of other players or computer-controlled champions. The goal is usually to destroy the opposing team's "nexus", a structure which lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures. Each League of Legends match is discrete, with all champions starting off fairly weak but increasing in strength by accumulating items and experience over the course of the game.[2]

League of Legends was generally well received at release, and has grown in popularity. By July 2012, League of Legends was the most played PC game in North America and Europe in terms of the number of hours played.[3] As of January 2014, over 67 million people played League of Legends per month, 27 million per day, and over 7.5 million concurrently during peak hours.[4] In September 2016 the company estimated that there are over 100 million active players each month.[5][6]

League of Legends has an active and widespread competitive scene. In North America and Europe, Riot Games organizes the League Championship Series, located in Los Angeles and Berlin respectively, which consists of 10[7] professional teams in each continent. Similar regional competitions exist in China, South Korea, Taiwan, South America,[8] and Southeast Asia. These regional competitions culminate with the annual World Championship, which in 2013, had a grand prize of $1 million and attracted 32 million viewers online.[9] The 2014 and 2015 tournaments each gave out one of the largest prize pools in eSports history, at $2.3 million.[10][11] Winners also receive trophies, such as the Summoner's Cup, which was made by silversmiths Thomas Lyte.[12] The 2016 World Championship's total prizepool was over 5 million dollars, with over 2 million going over to the winner of the tournament.[13]

Gameplay

Champions Quinn and Jinx (bottom) face off against Taric (top) in the bottom lane of Summoner's Rift

League of Legends is a 3D, third-person multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game.[14] The game consists of 3 current running game modes: Summoner's Rift, Twisted Treeline and Howling Abyss.[15] The game originally had 4 game modes; however, the game mode played on The Crystal Scar has since been removed.[16] Players compete in matches, typically lasting 20–60 minutes. In each game mode teams work together to accomplish a terminal objective and achieve a victory condition, either to destroy a central objective (called a Nexus) controlled by the enemy team, or to capture and hold the most strategic points for the longest period of time. Each game mode includes a variety of smaller intermediate objectives that give players and teams advantages in achieving overall victory.

In all game modes, players control characters called champions, chosen or assigned every match, who each have a set of unique abilities.[17] Champions begin every match at a low level, and then gain experience over the course of the match to achieve a maximum level of 18. Gaining champion levels in matches allows players to unlock their champion's special abilities and augment them in a number of ways unique to each character. Players also begin each match with a low amount of gold, and can earn additional gold throughout the match in a variety of ways: by killing non-player characters known as minions and monsters, by killing or helping to kill enemy players, by destroying enemy structures, passively over time, and through unique item interactions or champion abilities. This gold can then be spent throughout the match to buy in-game items that further augment each champion's abilities and game play in a variety of ways. Champion experience, gold earned, and items bought are specific to each match and do not carry over to subsequent matches. Thus, all players begin each match on more-or-less equal footing relative to their opposing team.

Across matches, players also earn rewards that are specific to the individual, and augment matches played. Player experience is earned by playing matches over time on a particular account. Player accounts begin at level one and progress through a maximum level of 30. As a player progresses they unlock various maps and game modes not available to new players, as well as an additional two abilities to be used in matches, known as summoner spells. Players also unlock Runes and Masteries, which can be used to provide small bonuses to a player's champion in battle. Player level is separate from character level; both a level 30 and a level 5 account would begin at character level 1 at the start of a new game.

All game modes use automated matchmaking based on the Elo formula, with proprietary adjustments.[18] A player's behavior is tracked between matches, and players that display poor behavior may be subject to varying sanctions. These are delivered by an automated system, and range from warnings, to chat restriction, to temporary and permanent bans from the game. This system replaced an earlier system, called the Tribunal, which sent game logs to the community to collectively decide whether a player's behavior was sanctionable. Permanent bans were still reviewed manually as of 2014.[19]

Game maps

League of Legends consists of three main maps, or "Fields of Justice." Each have different terrain, objectives and victory conditions, as well as varied summoner spells and items. A fourth map, Crystal Scar, was discontinued.

Summoner's Rift

A simplified representation of Summoner's Rift. The yellow paths are the "lanes" where endless waves of troops known as minions march; blue and red dots are the defensive turrets that defend the lanes. The nexuses, the ultimate goal of the game, are within each team's base in their corner. The dotted black line is the "River" that divides the sides.

Summoner's Rift is the most popular map in League of Legends.[15] On this map type, two teams of five players compete to destroy an enemy building called a Nexus, which is guarded by the enemy team and a number of defensive structures.[20] One nexus is located in each enemy base on opposite sides of the map, in the lower-left and upper-right hand corners. These structures continually create weak non-player characters known as minions, which advance toward the enemy base along three lanes: top, middle, and bottom lanes. Players compete to advance these waves of minions into the enemy base, which allows them to destroy enemy structures and ultimately win the match. Between lanes are neutral areas of the map known as the Jungle, arrayed in four quadrants. A shallow river divides the map between the teams, but doesn't actually impede movement; all champions can wade through it no differently than dry land.

Each team wishes to defend their own structures and destroy the other team's structures. These include:[21]

  • Turrets - Each lane is guarded by powerful defensive structures called turrets. Turrets will attack enemy minions and players that approach them. Turrets prioritize enemy minions in their vicinity, but will immediately attack enemy players if they attack allied players. Thus, by advancing an allied minion wave into the range of a turret, a player can do damage to the structure without themselves being attacked. When destroyed, turrets provide gold and experience. Turrets that are destroyed are destroyed permanently for that match and will not respawn. Some turrets, depending on location, will regenerate health over time if they are damaged but not destroyed.
  • Inhibitor - Each lane contains one Inhibitor. Inhibitors may be attacked after a team has destroyed the three turrets guarding each lane. Destroying an Inhibitor will cause the allied Nexus to spawn Super Minions, more powerful Minions that provide a buff to surrounding Minions. Inhibitors will respawn after five minutes.
  • Nexus - Each team has a Nexus that can only be damaged once all the turrets in a lane and that lane's inhibitor is destroyed. Destruction of the enemy's team Nexus ends the game.

Some objectives are 'neutral', meaning that they will not attack champions who pass by, but champions can choose to pick a fight with them if they wish to gain a reward at the cost of having to fight for it. They include:

  • Jungle monsters - Neutral monsters spawn at various intervals in the Jungle, and provide the player with gold, experience, and sometimes other rewards for killing them. They are the most common neutral objective.
  • Elemental drakes/Elder Dragon - Elemental drakes are powerful monsters located in the bottom half of the river. All members of the team that kills the drake are provided with buffs that last the entire game and accrue cumulatively. These buffs differ depending of the type of drake killed. A random elemental drake will respawn six minutes after the previous one is killed. The Elder Dragon spawns instead after 35 minutes have passed in-game. When killed, it provides a stronger buff than an individual elemental drake, but it wears off with time, unlike the earlier drake rewards. The drakes are flavored after the Four Elements.
  • Rift Herald - The Rift Herald is a powerful enemy located in the upper side of the River. Killing the Rift Herald provides a buff that can be picked up by a member of the killing team which lasts for 20 minutes. This monster will never respawn after it is killed.
  • Baron Nashor - Baron Nashor is the most powerful neutral enemy, located in the upper side of the River. It will spawn after twenty minutes, replacing the Rift Herald. All living members of the team that kills Baron Nashor are given a buff which makes surrounding Minions more powerful. Baron Nashor will respawn seven minutes after it is killed.

Twisted Treeline

In the Twisted Treeline, two teams of three players compete to destroy the opposing team's Nexus, which is guarded enemy Towers.[22] It is conceptually similar to Summoner's Rift, but smaller to account for three vs. three rather than five vs. five.[22] Rather than Summoner's Rift 3 lanes of turrets and 3 inhibitors, Twisted Treeline has only 2 lanes and 2 inhibitors. The other differences are the addition of "Altars", control of which grants the occupying team a variety of bonuses, and the replacement of Baron Nashor with Vilemaw, an evil spider. Living members of the team that slays Vilemaw are granted a temporary bonus, similar to the death of Nashor.

Howling Abyss

The Howling Abyss is used for "ARAM" (All Random All Mid) matches, and is five vs. five.[20] The difference between the Abyss and the other maps is that there is only a single narrow lane of Turrets and an Inhibitor, and no neutral jungle area. Thus, rather than skirmishes and hidden movement, the Abyss focuses exclusively on large team-fights in the sole middle lane. Players cannot return to their allied base to replenish health and mana or purchase items unless they have been killed.[22]

Crystal Scar

The Crystal Scar was used for Dominion mode, a discontinued game format where teams of five players competed to capture control points and hold those points for the longest possible period of time.[23] The map consists of a circle with 5 control points. Each team controls a base known as a fountain, located at the bottom left and right hand corners of the map. Each team scores points by capturing and owning more objectives than the other team over time, which is then reduced from the other team's "life" total. These points count down from an initial score of 200. The first team to reduce the other team to 0 points achieves victory. As of February 22, 2016, Dominion is no longer a permanent game mode, although the Crystal Scar is used for certain other rotating formats, such as Ascension.[24]

Games types

League of Legends includes several game types players can select.[14][25]

  • The Tutorial is the first game type available to new players. The tutorial is played on Howling Abyss and includes a regimen of Battle Training to help better acquaint players to the basics of the game.
  • Co-op Vs. AI is available to new players after completing or opting out of the Tutorial. It is played on Summoner's Rift, Twisted Treeline, and (formerly) the Crystal Scar, and pits teams of five or three players against an opposing team of computer-controlled artificial intelligence champions.
  • Normal Matchmaking uses an automated match making system to pair teams of similarly-skilled players against one another.
  • Ranked Matchmaking is available to players upon reaching account level 30. It uses a similar system as Normal Matchmaking; however, pre-made teams must be of comparable ELO strength, so expert players and weak players are not allowed to team together in Ranked. After playing 10 or more Ranked games, accounts are given a public "rank" that roughly correlates with their ELO ranking.
  • Custom Games allow players to play any map with any combination of player or AI teammates and opponents.

League of Legends also includes three ways teams may choose what champion they will play for a given match.

  • Blind Pick allows two teams to select their champions simultaneously, while not knowing the champion selections of the opposing team until the match begins. It is available on Summoner's Rift, Twisted Treeline, and the Crystal Scar for Normal Matchmaking games and Co-Op vs. AI, and for all modes in custom games.
  • Draft Pick allows each team to ban three champions each (a total of six champions banned), removing them from the match. Teams then take turns selecting their champions while being able to see the selections of the other team. It is available on Summoners Rift for matchmaking games, and for all modes in custom games.
  • Random Pick randomly assigns a champion to each player. Players accumulate re-rolls by playing multiple matches, which they can use to randomly select another champion for that match. It is available on Howling Abyss for ARAM (All Random All Mid) games, and for all modes in custom games.

Champion types

There are currently 133 champions in League of Legends as of 2016. League divides its champion types up a number of ways. Additionally, champions can be customized by buying different items and using different runes. The most salient difference is the type of damage a champion deals; some champions deal largely physical damage, resisted by the armor stat and items, and other champions deal largely magic damage, resisted by the magic resistance stat and items. Some champions deal a combination of both and can choose which to emphasize; and some rare abilities deal 'true' damage which is unresistable. Riot Games has classified all champions as one of six types to aid beginners, and have an additional "class" and "subclass" system used informally on the side.[26] Not all champions perfectly fit their type, of course. The official Riot classifications are:[27]

  • Marksman: Marksmen, also known as "AD Carries", are ranged champions that usually deal physical damage. These champions are usually high DPS rather than burst; they focus on sustained long-term damage, and are usually the best at destroying objectives like enemy turrets or elemental drakes. They tend to have very weak defense, though. Examples of marksmen are Ashe, Caitlyn, Miss Fortune, and Varus.[28]
  • Mage: Mages, sometimes known as "AP Carries", are champions with powerful magic damage skills and support skills, but often weak defense. Some are meant to deal a high amount of damage in a short period of time (AP burst) while others deal sustained damage over time (AP DPS), although the burstier Mages tend to blur with Assassins. Like marksmen champions, they can 'carry' their team to victory due to their high damage. Examples of mages are Karthus, Lissandra, Lux, and Swain.[29]
  • Assassin: A champion who specializes in killing another champion as fast as possible.[30] These champions tend to go after the enemy's AD/AP Carry and other 'squishy' champions, but tend to have weak defenses themselves if caught. They are distinguished from Marksmen and Mages in being more reliant on long cooldown skills to deal damage; they can deal large damage in a short burst, but are weak afterward. Examples of assassins are Diana, Fizz, Katarina, and Zed.[29]
  • Tank: Champions who are hard to kill and take damage very well. In exchange, they usually deal less damage, but can compensate with useful "crowd control" abilities to distract or disable enemies, or force enemies to fight through them first before they can attack the "carries". Examples of tanks are Malphite, Sejuani, Rammus, and Zac.[29]
  • Fighter: Champions that blend the attributes of a damage dealer and tank, combing moderate survivability with damage, but either weaker or more conditional damage than that an assassin or carry might have. A common designation for close-range melee fighters, since they need to be able to survive long enough to close in on their target. Examples of fighters are Jax, Elise, Rek'Sai, and Wukong.[29]
  • Support: Champions whose skills are meant to directly aid the rest of the team by providing healing, buffing allies, debuffing the enemy team, or a combination of the above. Support champions often are paired with another champion in the early laning phase of the game where they don't attack minions, but instead focus on aiding their partner and harassing the enemy champions. Supports are also expected to pay the most attention to the map as a whole, placing wards which grant vision and watching for surprise enemy movements. Example of supports are Alistar, Nami, Soraka, and Taric.[29]

Item choice plays an important role in the above. For example, if the champion Jarvan IV purchases all damage items, he functions something like an Assassin; he can kill enemies quickly, but dies rapidly himself. If Jarvan buys all defensive items, he's a tank focused on disruption and buffing his allies. Somewhere in-between, he's a Fighter. In the same way, champions like Morgana, Annie, and Karma can build item sets that are focused on high damage like a Mage, or item sets focused on disrupting enemies and aiding allies like a Support.

Special game modes

Riot Games would from 2013-2016 release special limited-time game modes. In 2016, Riot announced that "Rotating Games Mode" would be a recurring event, so that every weekend a previously released game mode would be made accessible again for that weekend.[31] Currently, Ascension, Ultra Rapid Fire (URF), Hexakill (Twisted Treeline), One For All (Summoner's Rift), Nemesis Draft, Legend of the Poro King, and Doom Bots of Doom are in the rotation. Special game modes not seen in the rotation include One For All (Howling Abyss), Hexakill (Summoner's Rift), Black Market Brawlers, Definitely Not Dominion, Nexus Siege, and Snowdown Showdown.

The Ultra Rapid Fire mode was originally a 2014 April Fools' Day prank that proved so popular it became a proper rotating game mode; in URF, champion abilities cost no mana or energy and have their cooldown reduced. Additionally, champions have increased movement speed, faster passive gold gain, and speedier ranged attacks.[32][33]

Business model

League of Legends is funded through microtransactions using Riot Points (RP), an in-game currency which can be purchased by players in the client store. RP can be used to purchase champions, champion skins, ward skins, summoner icons, and certain multi-game boosts. Alternatively, players earn Influence Points (IP), a secondary currency, by playing matches. IP may be used to purchase all in-game items besides skins, which cosmetically alter the appearance of champions. Conversely, RP may be used to buy all in-game items besides Runes, which provide boosts to the power of champions in matches, and may only be purchased using IP. Runes can only be purchased by IP, but the "pages" that the runes are placed on (in order for runes to take effect in-game) can be bought through both IP and RP. League of Legends is free-to-play and all in-game purchases with a material effect on game-play may be acquired by continually playing the game.

Setting and lore

League of Legends takes place in the fictional world of Runeterra. In Runeterra, the champions of League of Legends are a collection of heroes and villains who have a variety of backstories, often related to the political struggles of the various countries of the main continent of Valoran. Additionally, some champions are extraplanar and come from worlds other than Runeterra, but are visiting for their own purposes. These champions sometimes clash with each other, roughly reflected in the gameplay of League of Legends.

The setting has gone through two phases: the 'original' setting that was canon from 2010-2014, and the rebooted setting from 2014-present.[34] The original setting was very focused on justifying the exact mechanics of a game of League in the world of Runeterra. The MOBA predecessor to League, Defense of the Ancients, featured two warring sides with two separate hero rosters; however, in League, any combination of champions was legal to create a team. To explain this, in the original setting, Valoran was functionally ruled by extremely powerful time mages who could intimidate the other nations into compliance with their whims. They created the "Institute of War", also known as the "League of Legends", to resolve disputes and act as something like an international sports league. In these disputes, "Summoners" (aka the game player) could control any of Runeterra's greatest heroes or villains in their struggles, thus justifying why a team of 5 characters who all hated each other might form. Additionally, these time mages would actually power-down the characters to "level 1" before each match to make things 'fair'; some character's backstories even involved them explicitly having their powers sealed by the Institute of War due to them being too powerful otherwise, such as the demigoddesses Kayle and Morgana. This explained why characters might participate in multiple matches and have to relearn the same skills each time. After a match, a "Judgment" would sometimes be handed down, with the winning summoners able to give land and privileges to those they favored.

The narrative team at Riot eventually decided this setup was too constraining, and "rebooted" the story behind League of Legends in 2014.[35] In essence, the original story put too much emphasis on the faceless player stand-in Summoners and the Time Mages of the Institute; "the very idea of all-powerful Summoners made Champions little more than puppets manipulated by godlike powers."[34] Any interesting champions the Narrative team created were rendered as secondary, mere servants to the Summoners, unable to influence their own destiny. Many champions did not make tons of sense to even want to participate in the Institute, such as serial killer fire spirit Brand or void monster Rek'Sai. Riot wished to let champions take the center stage and have stories of their own, pursuing their own unique goals. For example, Riot has since released a plotline about a lost empire in the Shurima desert[36] and a plotline about a clash between the pirate Gangplank and the pirate-hunter Miss Fortune in the city of Bilgewater,[37] both of which were driven by the champions of League of Legends, not Summoners. Riot compared this style of narrative to comic book characters and classic literature, where interesting characters can have many adventures over time and not necessarily have all of them make sense in the same continuity.[34] A side effect of this is "that the game and story aren’t one-to-one copies of each other."[34]

The world of Runeterra consists of a number of countries and city-states, locked in a web of rivalry, alliance, and conflict.[38] The two largest and most powerful entities are the states of Demacia and Noxus, who have fought wars in the past, and are in a Cold War-esque state currently, with each seeking to quietly undermine the other. Demacian champions tend to value themes like chivalry and honor, while Noxus prides itself more on trickery, strategy, and ruthlessness.[39][40] Piltover and Zaun are two city-states at the forefront of technology; Piltover has a "steampunk" style, while Zaun is a darker vision of the power of technology, engaging in ethically questionable research.[41] The Freljord is an icy domain riven by a three-way civil war between rival claimant Queens Ashe, Sejuani, and Lissandra.[42] Bandle City is a peaceful domain of yordles, a race of small humanoids unique to League of Legends. Ionia is an island nation with a number of themes, including music, monks, and ninjas.[43] Bilgewater is a port town with a pirate theme. The Shadow Isles are an island chain that was magically corrupted, and have become haunted by a malign force known as the "Black Mist" which leeches life and empowers the undead.[44] Shurima is a fallen empire lost to the desert with a somewhat Egyptian theme.[45] Icathia is another fallen and abandoned city where Void monsters from another dimension have crossed into Runeterra, with a Lovecraftian theme.[46]

Development

The game's developer Riot Games was co-founded by Brandon "Ryze" Beck and Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill, who were roommates while they attended the University of Southern California. They partnered with Steve "Guinsoo" Feak, the previous designer of the popular Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne custom map Defense of the Ancients, and Steve "Pendragon" Mescon, the administrator of the former official support base for the map, to develop League of Legends.[47] Using the original DotA created by Eul (the original Defence of The Ancients map for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos) as a base, Guinsoo made DotA Allstars by inserting his own mix of content, greatly expanding the number of heroes, added recipes and items, and introduced various gameplay changes. Guinsoo then passed version 6 of the map on to a new developer, IceFrog.[citation needed]

The idea of a spiritual successor to Defense of the Ancients was that it would be its own stand-alone game with its own engine, rather than another mod of Warcraft III, began to materialize at the end of 2005. League of Legends was born "when a couple of very active DotA community members believed that the gameplay was so much fun and so innovative that it represented the spawning of a new genre and deserved to be its own professional game with significantly enhanced features and around-game services."[48]

Riot Games officially opened its office in September 2006, and currently[when?] has over 1,000 people working on League of Legends.[citation needed] According to Marc Merrill, when creating the various champions in the game, instead of leaving the champion creation to just a few people, they decided to open up the champion creation process to everyone in the company based upon a template where they could vote on which champions made it into the game.[citation needed]

League of Legends was first announced on October 7, 2008. It was in a closed beta from April 10, 2009 to October 22, 2009. It then transitioned to open beta until release.[49][50]

Release

League of Legends was released on October 27, 2009.[51] Riot Games self-publishes and operates the game and all of its customer service aspects in North America. Riot Games has signed deals regarding the distribution of League of Legends in Asia, Europe, and North America. By July 2013, the game has been released and was distributed in Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, Philippines,[52] and South Korea. No public announcements regarding other regions have been made.

The game is distributed in China by Tencent Inc., the largest Internet value-added services company in China best known for its QQ Instant Messaging client. The game has been distributed to Tencent's growing 300 million Internet user base through its leading QQ Game portal. The deal was one of only a handful of partnerships to bring a U.S.-developed online game directly to China.

On July 14, 2009, Riot Games announced that League of Legends will be free with "no catch".[53][54] There will be a digital copy for download, but there is also a Digital Collector's Copy that will be available to purchase that contains exclusive skins, $10 credit for Riot Points, and 20 champions to access without unlocking them normally via gameplay as well as 4 "special" runes. This Collector's Pack is currently available for US$29.99.[55][56] Even though the game is free, Riot Games "plan[s] to continue to add content (characters etc...) with a full production team at very frequent intervals."[57] Using both free-to-play and freemium models, the game is supported by microtransactions (see store) rather than ads or boxed copy sales.[58]

In Europe, Riot Games has signed an international licensing partnership with GOA, the video games department of Orange's Content Division and Europe's largest gaming portal. On October 13, 2009, GOA and Riot announced that they would start channeling server access for players located in Europe to GOA's dedicated servers.[59] This restriction meant that players located in Europe would not be able to play on Riot's servers in the United States. Due to negative community feedback, the channeling decision was rescinded October 16, 2009.[60]

On February 25, 2010, Riot Games announced that League of Legends would be distributed in Southeast Asian countries by an unspecified publisher and blocked SEA IP addresses pursuant to its distribution agreement.[61] The community has raised a number of concerns about the deal and the immediate IP block. On July 16, 2010, Riot Games announced that Garena would publish the game in Southeast Asia.[62] Additionally, Southeast Asian players had the ability "transfer accounts" to import their progress stored in North American or European servers into the Southeast Asian server. The game has since been distributed by Garena in Taiwan as well.[63]

On May 10, 2010, Riot Games announced that they would take over distribution and operation of the game in Europe.[64] To do so, Riot Games established a European HQ in Dublin.[65]

On March 23, 2013, the cinematographic studios in Rome hosted the Italian launch of League of Legends. More than 1,500 people were present, along with Riot Games developers, journalists, and various guests. The show schedule included a cosplay contest and a challenge match between two Italian clans.[66]

In March 2013, Riot Games released a beta version of an OS X client in addition to their Windows client.[67]

In April 2014, Riot Games announced its Toyko office as a part of their efforts to push the game into the Japanese eSports community.[68] In conjunction with their announcement of a localized client in the works at the Tokyo Game Show 2014, it was revealed that Japan would feature its own League of Legends Japan League where teams would compete on the professional level.[69][70]

Reception

League of Legends character Teemo at the Taiwan Lantern Festival in 2013.

Popular reception

In a release published in November 2011, Riot Games stated that League of Legends had accumulated 32.5 million players, 11.5 million of whom play monthly, of which 4.2 million play daily.[71] Riot said in October 2013, the game had 12 million active daily players and 32 million active monthly players. In January 2014, the game had 27 million active daily players, 7.5 million concurrent players at peak times, and 67 million active monthly players.[72] Global concurrent users online peaked at over 5 million players as of March 2013.[70][73]

By March 2012, League of Legends had become the #1 title in Korean PC cafés.[74] In July 2012, Xfire released a report stating that League of Legends was the most played PC game in North America and Europe, with 1.3 billion hours logged by players in those regions between July 2011 and June 2012.[3] League of Legends is also very popular in the Philippines, and, as of July 2013, it is the second most played game in internet cafés in the country (just behind Defense of the Ancients).[75] In Taiwan, it is estimated that almost 5 percent of their entire population played the game, with almost 1 million players subscribed on the server.[76]

Critical reception

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 78.72%[77]
Metacritic 78%[78]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A-[79]
AllGame 3.5/5 stars[80]
Eurogamer 8/10 stars[81]
Game Revolution B+[82]
GameSpy 4/5 stars[83]
GameZone 4.5/5 stars[84]
IGN 9.2/10[85]
Awards
Publication Award
GameSpy Gamer's Choice Award for PC Game of the Year (2009)
IGN Reader's Choice Award for PC Best Strategy Game and PC Best Multiplayer Game (2009)
Gamasutra 2010 Best Online Technology

2010 Best Online Visual Arts
2010 Best Online Game Design
2010 Best New Online Game

2010 Audience Award

League of Legends has received generally favorable reviews, and currently holds a Metacritic score of 78 out of 100.[78]

IGN initially awarded League of Legends 8.0 out of 10 in 2009, highlighting an enjoyable game design, inventive champion design with good customization options, and lively visuals. However, the game's confusing launch was criticized: it was felt that the title was released too early, with some features missing and others to be removed. Finally, the reviewer noted that high level players in the game have "little patience for newcomers", though the reviewer believed that matchmaking (not implemented at the time of review) would solve the problem by matching players of similar level together.[86]

Leah B. Jackson of IGN re-reviewed the game in 2014, changing IGN's score from 8.0 to 9.2. Jackson hailed the game "as an example of excellence", praising the variety of champions, rewarding progression systems, and fast but intensely strategic team play.[85]

As compared to fellow MOBA games Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2, Mike Minotti of VentureBeat considered League of Legends as the easiest to learn and to have fastest gameplay pace of the three, while the other two feature more complex gameplay mechanics and are considered closer in style to the original DoTA All-Stars.[87][88]

In 2015, the game placed 15th on USgamer's The 15 Best Games Since 2000 list.[89]

Awards and nominations

Date Awards Category Result
December 14, 2009 IGN PC Best Strategy Game 2009 Readers' Choice Winner[90]
December 21, 2009 GameSpy Gamers' Choice Awards 2009 PC Gamers' Choice Winner[91]
October 8, 2010 1st Game Developers Online Choice Awards Best Online Technology, Visual Arts, Game Design, New Online Game, Audience Award Winner[92]
October 29, 2010 Golden Joystick Award Online Game of the Year Winner[93]
October 21, 2011 Golden Joystick Award Best Free-to-Play Game Winner[94]
December 3, 2015 The Game Award eSports Game of the Year Award Nominated[95]

Professional competition

A League of Legends show match at Gamescom 2014

League of Legends is one of the largest eSports, with various annual tournaments taking place worldwide.[96] In terms of eSports professional gaming as of June 2016 2016, League of Legends has had $29,203,916 USD in prize money, 4,083 Players, and 1,718 tournaments, comapred to Dota 2's $64,397,286 USD of prize money, 1,495 players, and 613 tournaments. [97]

World Championship

Season 1 Championship was held at DreamHack in Sweden, in June 2011 and had US$100,000 in prizes. The European team Fnatic defeated teams from Europe, the USA, and Southeast Asia to win the tournament and received US$50,000 in prize money.[98] Over 1.6 million viewers watched the streamed broadcast of the event, with a peak of over 210,000 simultaneous viewers in one semi-final match.[99] After Season 1, Riot announced that US$5,000,000 would be paid out over Season 2. Of this amount, $2 million was to go to Riot's partners, including the IPL and other major eSports associations. Another $2 million was to go to Riot's Season 2 qualifiers and championship. The final $1 million was to go to small organizers who apply to Riot to host League of Legends tournaments.[100]

After a series of network issues during the Season 2 World Playoffs that led to several matches being delayed, Riot revealed on October 13, 2012, that a special LAN-based client had been quickly developed, designed for use in tournament environments where the effects of lag and other network issues can be detrimental to the proper organization of an event. The LAN client was deployed for the first time during the first quarter-final and semi-final matches played following the re-scheduled matches, and was in use during the finals.[101] On October 13, 2012, the Taipei Assassins (TPA) of Taiwan triumphed over Azubu Frost of South Korea in the Finals of Season 2 World Championship with a score of 3 to 1, and claimed the $1 million in prize money.[102]

In October 2013, Korean team SK Telecom T1 and Chinese team Royal Club competed at the Season 3 World Championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. SK Telecom T1 won the grand prize of $1 million, and Royal Club received $250,000.[103]

As of 2013, League of Legends is the most popular e-sports game in South Korea.[104]

SK Telecom T1 at the World Championship 2013

On July 11, 2013, Riot manager Nick Allen announced that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services recognized League of Legends pro-players as professional athletes and that the P visa application process would be more simplified for them.[105] These changes allowed professional players to stay in the United States for up to five years.[106] Despite these reforms, there have still been a number of visa problems that have occurred for players in the LCS and other LoL tournaments entering the United States.[107][108]

Silversmith Thomas Lyte was asked to craft the winner trophy for the 2014 games, having already created the Season Two World Championship Cup in 2012. Riot Games, which owns League of Legends, commissioned the Summoner’s Cup and specified that it should weigh 70 pounds. However, the weight was later reduced as it was too heavy to be lifted in victory.[109]

On October 31, 2015, SK Telecom T1 became the first-ever two-time World Champion when they defeated fellow Korean team KOO Tigers with a score of 3 to 1 in the best-of-five finals in Berlin, Germany.[110][111]

Championship Series

On February 7, 2013, Riot Games made the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in Europe and North America. This is a league system where ten teams compete to stay in the league. A season consists of two splits, each split separated into a regular season and a playoff. The top three teams from each continent advance to the world championships. Equivalent leagues run independently of Riot also exist some other regions such as the League of Legends Pro League in China and League of Legends Champions Korea in Korea.

Other tournaments

The World Cyber Games 2011 Grand Finals in Los Angeles hosted a League of Legends tournament, at which teams from China, Europe, and the Americas competed. The Counter Logic Gaming team from North America won the tournament, earning a $7,000 prize.[112]

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External links