“Crowd at ESL One Frankfurt 2014” (CC BY 2.0) by artubr
Leading game design company Riot Games have claimed they will soon be introducing an entirely new era of eSports and entertainment to the world following the reveal of their upcoming League of Legends tournament. It was all the way back in March 2018 that Forge of Champions was first hinted at by the company, but now all has been revealed.
According to eSports News UK, the tournament will include 64 individual teams, all of whom must compete against 8 players who placed highest in the most recent ESL LoL Premiership. Whichever team wins will take home a prize pool of £50,000 as well as two seats at the next EU Masters, which takes place in September. The EU Masters, previously known as the EU Challenger Series, was recently won by Origen in April while at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre.
This move by Riot Games to introduce a new tournament is by far the company’s largest commitment to the eSports world as of yet. The prize pool alone is the largest the United Kingdom League of Legends eSports market has known, with the second now being the UK Masters’ £20,000 from a couple of years ago. To ensure the new tournament is a success, Riot Games have already signed a three-year agreement with the League of Videogames Professions (LVP), who is extremely popular in Spain for hosting the League of Legends Superliga.
Really, it’s about time that Europe began taking eSports more seriously. Each year eSports tournaments in the USA and across Asia are gaining more teams, attention and money to add to their prize pools. The International 2017, hosted in Seattle USA, had a prize pool of $24,647,919 while the LoL World Championships – also held in North America – often have prize pools of over $4 million. In fact, the largest prize pool a European tournament has ever had was $3 million at The Frankfurt Major back in 2015, an amount that pales in comparison to more recent competitions.
Prize pools are growing with every passing year and it’s probably due to the large audiences that eSports tournaments now attract. Not only do eSports fans watch live streams of the tournaments, but they also buy merchandise, and some have even gotten involved with eSports odds at online betting sites that are now hosting eSports betting markets alongside more traditional sports such as football, rugby and cricket. While North America might have the largest prize pools, many European tournaments attract millions of viewers, with the most viewed tournament of all time being the 2017 Intel Extreme Masters Katowice in Poland with 46 million unique viewers worldwide.
To ensure that Forge of Champions will be able to meet the expectations set by viewers and compete with other tournaments around the world, millions of pounds have gone into the project. According to Mo Fagl, Riot UK’s head of eSports, this money has gone into creating LVP’s new UK studio where the tournament will be held as well as marketing, staffing and equipment. Hopefully, as more information is released about Forge of Champions we’ll be able to tell if it will truly give Europe the tournament we’ve all been waiting for.