League of Legends News

How Riot Games Dominated Tournaments During a Pandemic

With the outbreak of the Covid-19, esports, like the rest of the world, ground to a halt. Starting with IEM Katowice in 2020, hundreds of events were canceled, switched to online, had their crowds removed, or were otherwise changed in response to the coronavirus.

But even as the rest of the esports world was canceling and moving their biggest tournaments online, Riot Games managed to put on three enormous tournaments: Worlds 2020, Mid-Season Invitational 2021, and Worlds 2021. But how did Riot Games succeed where so many other tournaments, such as Dota 2’s The International and CS:GO’s Majors, were forced into cancellation?

The feat of Worlds 2020

Image via Riot Games

Riot Games and their League of Legends competitive scene was not immediately immune to the cancellations that ripped through the esports world in the wake of Covid-19. With their leagues moved online, taken out of studios, and in some cases, postponed, competitive LoL and the newly revealed Valorant competitive scene suffered in early 2020.

Most notable was the cancellation of MSI 2020. The Mid Season Invitational 2020 was initially scheduled for May 2020. But after the outbreak of the Pandemic was canceled in April of that year. It looked like, in all likelihood, Worlds 2020 would share the same fate. After all, several massive international events like Worlds had to be canceled that same year. 

But Riot had an ace up their sleeve: The backing of parent company Tencent. It’s impossible to know just how much sway the state-backed Tencent corporation pulled to ensure that League of Legends got its Worlds 2020. But suffice to say, Worlds 2020 was held in China, with a limited crowd for some days. 

But beyond just greasing the gears with some corporate connections, the measures taken to ensure a safe environment were astronomical. Taking place on a closed set in the Shanghai Media Tech Studio, teams traveling to the event were all placed in the same hotel. Each squad was forced into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Employees faced similar strict restrictions. Ultimately there were no reported cases during the event.

Many would criticize Riot’s all-spanning control of the competitive scene for League of Legends. But when faced with needing to operate an international tournament in a bubble, it’s hard to fault the total control.

Iceland saved the day in 2021

Image via Riot Games

With the Pandemic continuing into 2021, instead of the eight or 12-month crisis, many had initially predicted, more competitive events would have to be scaled down or canceled. With Riot’s newly launched VCT for Valorant and the new 2021 season of League of Legends starting, it looked like the continuing Pandemic would scupper it. But for several reasons, that wasn’t an option. 

In many ways, Riot Games was snookered by its past decisions. To have held Worlds 2020 and set expectations of what could be achieved in a pandemic so high, only to scale things back in 2021, would be unthinkable. It would have sent two messages: Firstly, Worlds 2020 was a mistake; an event born of hubris and brute force (accurate on many accounts). And secondly that it was a one-off miracle and not something that could be replicated by Riot Games again. Especially not outside of China, without the influence of Tencent on its side.

Scouring the globe, the ideal venue for Riot Games 2021 events became clear. Iceland and its capital of Reykjavík was the perfect location. Nominally a European location, but with enough restrictions and a small population to have prevented huge numbers of coronavirus cases, Iceland was ideal for esports events.

Valorant Masters, MSI 2021, and Worlds 2021 were all hosted in Reykjavik in the Laugardalshöll arena under similar lockdown conditions to Worlds 2020. As a result, the three huge events were pulled off with no press, no audience, and just players and staff isolated in arenas.

Looking ahead to MSI South Korea

Image via Asia Tech Daily

With all these successes, it’s no surprise Riot Games is again looking to hold an event during a global pandemic. This time it’s rumored to be in South Korea, with the League of Legends MSI 2022. What measures Riot Games will put in place remains to be seen. The company has operated well with strict measures, but the overall attitude to the Pandemic has changed over the past two years.

We live in a world where most competitors will be double or even triple vaccinated against the virus. The cases in South Korea have steadily increased over the past months, but so has testing. And in many cases, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 seems to have less severe symptoms, especially for the vaccinated. Under these conditions, Riot Games once again attempts to hold an international tournament. Over the past two years, they’ve proved they’re more than capable of doing so.

League of Legends News

How 100Thieves is Crafting Unique NFTs — and Avoiding Backlash

Esports organization 100 Thieves made their entrance into the World of NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) earlier this week with the 100 Thieves Championship Chain digital collectible release. As a free NFT was given away to celebrate the team’s LCS Lock-In victory, the relatively small backlash was one of the more notable factors about the announcement.

NFTs have been a contentious subject within esports and gaming, as many organizations rush to capitalize on the current boom. But the response from fans has been tepid or worse, with examples like Ubisoft Quartz seeing universal criticism and Team 17’s MetaWorms project dead on arrival

That’s why 100 T’s relatively uncontroversial release of a digital image of the actual chain they gave their players is so surprising. The team has managed to dodge much of the negative PR. But how exactly did they manage this?

They controlled the narrative

100T Nadeshot introduced the NFT project in a carefully worded video announcement (image via 100T)

Careful use of marketing and branding meant that 100 T’s Championship Chain didn’t initially trigger the automatic backlash that NFTs have garnered. The term NFT is already tainted due to highly publicized scandals, scams, exit cons, etc. Just using the terms “fungible” or even “token” in a release can mean instant death for a launch like this.

Instead, 100T concentrated on the digital collectible aspect, comparing the project to trading cards, comics, and memorabilia. It’s a smart move, as while NFT’s are pretty much radioactive as investments, gaming collectibles and trading cards are surging in value. So while this is also a bubble that is perhaps inflated by disingenuous investment, it’s still a more prestigious and valuable option.

In fact, the first mention of NFTs is in the FAQ section. While savvy consumers will have already noted that you needed to connect a token wallet to get the collectible, the less informed or interested just won’t get that far. The marketing and messaging on this release were targeted at 100T fans who are already investors in crypto, NFTs, and interested in digital collectibles.

It did not make the mistake of attempting to appeal to the general fan base aggressively. This limited the criticism to elements that they’d prepared for. They explained the environmental impact, comparing it to “sending ~2.5 emails.” And they headed off people asking why you’d buy a digital chain by explaining it as an achievement system or a collectible.

They gave it away for free — for a reason

100T’s Championship Chain was a digital replica of a real-world object. Owners of the new NFT will bank on the collectable surging in value in the future (image via 100T)

Giving away the Championship Chain was a smart move for several reasons. Firstly, it’s hard to criticize giving away something for free because it’s free at the end of the day. Secondly, 100T has created a built-in consumer base for its next NFT. 

The release already alluded to the fact that the team hopes “fans can look back on the moments in our history that they were there for and have pride in.” This would suggest the team will be creating more tokens in the future. Whether these will be free or not remains to be seen.

While currently the collectibles “aren’t intended for resale,” there’s nothing to say that will be the case in the future. The high-minded, read between the lines pitch of these tokens is that you will have a collection of 100T Championship collectibles in the future. At some point even further in the future, this exclusive and limited collection will be valuable because of its scarcity. And then, the free token that 100T has given fans will reward both parties with financial boons.

It’s theoretically one of the smartest moves into NFTs we’ve seen in the gaming space so far. But like with most NFT projects, it’s built on assumptions about the future that all parties are now gambling will come true.

League of Legends

A New Champion: 100T Sweep Team Liquid in the LCS Championship

Change is in the air in North American League of Legends, as 100 Thieves defeat Team Liquid to win the LCS Championship. 100T swept opponents Team Liquid in three straight games in the best-of-five series to become champions of the league.

The win makes 100T just the fifth ever team to capture an LCS title. Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming—All storied teams in the league—are the only other organizations to claim an LCS seasonal victory. 

In an empty arena (fans were unable to attend the event in person), the LCS 2021 season wrapped up with a bang. Team Liquid, who had been on an incredible hot streak before tha match, struggled immediately with the pace at with 100T played. Having met previously in the Upper Bracket finals, it seemed logical that TL would again have 100T’s number.

But as the teams met on Sunday, it was almost like a completely different 100T than the one TL faced in round four of the playoffs. Chief among the success was Can “Closer” Çelik. The Turkish Jungle dominated his opponent, showing the raw power of picks like Viego jungle. 

Ian Victor “FBI” Huang, import Australian ADC was also a standout for the team. Already the best in one region, Oceania, FBI was on the warpath on Sunday. He wanted to prove he was the best in NA as well.  In three games, his scores of 5/1/4, 3/1/9, and 3/0/7 showed just how dominant he is.

Unfortunately, the crowning of a new champ in North America will once again spark a debate about imports. This year NA will only send three native NA talents to Worlds 2021. LCS teams must field a minimum of two NA players on a roster. However, with Oceanic players counting as NA residents, and import players who have become a lawful permanent resident in North America able to count as one of those two, 100T is able to field zero native NA players. 

Despite a victory that is sure to be tinged with controversy, it is a well deserved win for 100T

League of Legends

Riot Games Expands Game Changers Program to League of Legends and the LCS

Building upon its success in VALORANT, Riot Games has expanded its Game Changer program to include League of Legends. Revealed on August 24, in a post on the LoL Esports website, LCS Game Changers looks to build diversity in the scene.

Previously, Riot had revealed the original Game Changers program for VALORANT. That initiative sought to help “marginalized genders within Valorant.” To that aim it formed a fully-fledged competitive ecosystem for women’s Valorant. In supporting teams and offering prize pools for teams, the program looked to make women’s Valorant.

LCS Game Changers will differ from it’s Valorant counterpart in a number of ways. Instead of of looking to support teams and tournaments, the will instead focus on high ELO LoL players. The program aims to mentor and work with these players to transition them into amateur and professional players. 

However, in spite of the differences, the aim for both programs is the same: To support women in the esports space.

The program aims to take 10 players to field two teams. Over the course of a two-week training camp, Game Changers will support the selected players with a “life as a pro” experience. Scrims, VOD reviews, and panels will support players and will hopefully help them secure a place on an amateur or pro team in the future.

Just like its predecessor this initiative has lofty goals. But even so, it’s an admirable effort by Riot Games to attempt to support women entering professional play. 

Applications for the program are open now, and candidates can apply here. Selection is set to take place on September 3rd, and the event proper will take place between September 27th until October 8th, concluding with a best-of-five between both teams of candidates.

League of Legends

LCS Forced Back Online As Positive Covid Tests Cause Havoc

It’s tempting, in the middle of 2021, to try and forget that the world is in the midst of a pandemic. Especially as people try and return to normal, with safety precautions and vaccinations helping to bring things back to pre-pandemic status.

However, LCS fans were reminded acutely reminded of how un-normal things really are as the League was once again forced online due to Covid-19. For the first time since the start of the Summer season, the LCS was returned to it’s online format, just like the bad-old-days of Summer 2020. With the new-look LCS of 2021, it was hoped issues like this were a thing of the past, but still the problems remain.

It all began as Immortals players were forced into playing remotely after a spate of positive tests. Immortals stated that all their players and staff were vaccinated. But even with their precautions, the team were unable to prevent the outbreak.

However, despite the swift response, just a day later the situation got worse. LCS Commissioner Chris Greely revealed that the league would be forced to move to an online format once due to the positive test. He stressed that the reasoning behind this would be due to an abundance of caution, rather than any positive tests inside the LCS Arena. No one at the on-site LCS staff has tested positive thus far. 

Making the Best of Online LCS Play

Despite the bad news, players looked to make the best of a bad situation. Immortals’ Mitchell “Destinyy” Shaw unwound by posting memes on Twitter, showing ‘Peepo’ playing things safe in a haz-mat suit. At the time of writing, Immortals were 2-0 on the weekend. It goes to show that playing from home wasn’t all that of a bad thing for them.

On the other hand, playing online was not all fun and sunshine for other teams. Evil Geniuses Coach Peter Dunn attested to some direct issues arising from their online play. Attributing their loss to Immortals to a missed Ryze ban, he bemoaned the issues with communication that can arise online.

The LCS continues this evening, with Immortals and Evil Geniuses in action. Follow DartFrog on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch for the latest League of Legends and LCS news.

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The LCS Championship Will Feature In-Person Attendance

A taste of normality is set to his the LCS this fall, as the LCS Championship will officially allow in-person attendance for fans. The details of the LCS’s end-of-split championship event were revealed in a post by Riot Games released on the evening of July 9.

Riot Game’s announcement about the LCS Championship

On top of the crucial announcement that the event would allow in-person attendance, Riot also revealed the date and location of finals: The Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey. Formerly known as the Summer Finals, the LCS Championship will take place from Aug 28- 29. Riot endgoing so far as to put tickets on sale online

The LCS Championship is the last chance for LCS teams to gain the chance represent North America at the 2021 World Championship. The winner will also take home the new LCS Championship Trophy. The region only has three slots and there are plenty of organizations aiming to attend the tournament.

Finally the Fans are Back

Riot endorsed fans attending in person, going so far as to put tickets on sale online. However, it also encouraged fans to make plans to be vaccinated against Covid-19, but did not specify whether testing or other restrictions would be in place. It stated that all attendees must follow local health and safety protocols, which may include mask wearing. 

But Riot also faced criticism for the seeming in-auspicious location for the finals. Newark is normally seen as a b-town for events, with it’s New York City adjacent positioning. However, other suggest that Newark will be a fantastic venue for the event.

Journalist Jacob Wolf endorses the Prudential Centre in Newark as an Esports Venue

What’s more, others speculated online what this could mean for the VCT Champions event set for later in the year. The VCT has struggled in it’s opening year to find venues amid Covid restrictions. It’s first LAN event in Iceland was a closed-door tournament, with no press or fans.

Journalist Scott Robinson considers whether the LCS Championship news could have implications on the VCT Champions event.

Riot’s willingness to hold open-door events again is a good sign for LoL and VALORANT fans.

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LCS 2021 format changes: More games, less time off

It may still feel far away in your mind, but 2021 is looming, and with it a fresh year of LCS action. Yesterday, on December 14, the NA’s top League of Legends division gave us an early Christmas present: A new format.  Revealed in detail on Travis Gafford’s YouTube channel, the format debuts a number of changes. These include new names for the playoffs, a shorter Spring Split, and lots more games.

The season will kick off on January 15 with “The LCS Lock In.” This cash and charity tournament will pit the LCS teams against each other for $200,000 in prize money. The teams will be split into a unique set of groups decided by the previous season’s champions. The top four teams from each group advance to a playoff with the winner taking home $150,000 plus $50,000 for a charity of their choice.

Image via Travis Gafford

The Spring Split will run between February 5 and March 14. In a trimmed-down triple round-robin best-of-one format, teams will play three games over a weekend. This gives us 15 games a week total. As a result the spring split will only take 6 weeks. Following this, the spring playoffs, now renamed the “Mid Season Showdown” will take place. The top 6 teams clash in a double elimination tournament. The victor will be crowned as spring champion and given a spot at the Mid Season Invitational.

Summer will follow a similar format, with another round-robin season. This time it’s a full 9 weeks, running from June 4 to August 11. After this, the summer playoffs, now name the LCS Championship, will pit the 8 top teams against each other. The top three teams will then head to Worlds 2021, representing NA on the grandest stage.

Image via Travis Gafford

But questions have to be asked whether this is the right move for the LCS. While some reactions to changes have been universally positive, others have seen flaws in the new format. Carrying over results between splits will make each game more important to the league. However, questions remain over how the LCS will handle the new schedule.

Last year the LCS had subpar production values. On top of this, the new schedule, at least in spring, will make it incredibly difficult for players to have any down time. The schedule seems more akin to the manic mass games of Season Three, rather than the sleek modern production we’ve seen from the LEC in these past years. As a result, it remains to be seen whether the LCS in 2021 can deliver a top quality product and production while dealing with these new format changes. 

Follow DartFrog on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch for the latest League of Legends and LCSnews.

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Before Free Agency, the Culling Begins: A List of Leaving Players

The most exciting part of the League of Legends off-season is here: Free Agency. At the stroke of midnight GMT, the window for teams to sign free agents will finally be open, and the big names signings and trades can begin.

But before that is the most scary time of the year for players: The cuts! Although most players will have known for weeks their time is limited, fans and observers will now get to see the full damage inflicted by the off-season shuffle.

North America

NA often seems like the centre of the League of Legends universe, especially when the money starts flying. The region can drop big bucks, and free-agency is perhaps the only time of the year where the size of your wallet matters more than where you finished at Worlds. But in order to make big trades, you need gaps in your roster. So for these NA players it was time for the chopping block.

With rumours of a Perkz signing, and a move to midlane, it was only natural Nisqy would be on the block. This move all but confirms the signing of one of the best players in the LEC to Cloud9.

Having spent much of it’s offseason attempting to save the planet, FlyQuest will say byeQuest to Terry “Big” Chuong. The academy support looked poised to take over from sought after Korean support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun, but those hopes have been dashed with his release.

But the biggest move has to be from Dignitas. The team has slashed its roster, saying goodbye to Kim “Fenix”  Jae-hun, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Omran “V1per” Shoura. The team is likely to look to completely rebuild this off-season.


We were well into Tuesday for South Korea when the free agency window opened, meaning these guys got a sour start to their Tuesday.

Gen.G parts ways with support Kim “Kellin” Hyeong-gyu. The removal throws into speculation whether the teams other support, Kim “Life” Jeong-min, will explore his free agency, or use this lack of competition to secure his spot.

Hanwha Life Esports cuts Son “Lehends” Si-woo and Park “Viper” Do-hyeon. The pair previously played together on Griffin, and would them finding a home together again would be a lethal combination.

Meanwhile in a huge blow to World Champions DAMWON Gaming, top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee have decided to explore free agency. The pair could resign with DAMWON, but as Worlds-winning players, they’ll likely have a lot of suitors.

What’s more, things went from bad to worse for DAMWON when later in the day Lee “Flame” Ho-jong agreed to part ways with the team. DAMWON, champions less than a month ago, now seem to be in full rebuild mode.

Cuts and notifications of free agency are just the opening shots of the offseason shuffle, and more bombshells will likely drop in the near future.

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Perkz to NA? Reported 5 Million Dollar Move For G2’s Golden Boy

LEC fans brace for the worst as G2’s Luka “Perkz” Perković is reportedly preparing for a move across the Atlantic to North America. The alleged transfer of Perkz to NA was revealed by journalist Jacob Wolf in a tweet posted late evening, November 9.

North American League of Legends is well-known for hooving up the top European talent in a desperate attempt to improve its international performances. But this latest move dwarves all of them. With a reported $5 million buyout, and “record-setting” salary, the potential switch would make the 22-year old the single most valuable player in all of esports.

Perkz has been a core component in G2’s lineup since late 2015. Originally a mid laner, the Croatian star swapped to bot lane, to facilitate the signing of Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther. Together, the duo became the two best carries in the LEC, taking G2 to three world championships, twice making it to the semi-finals. In 2019, Perkz was part of the G2 roster which came within a hair’s-length of winning Worlds, only falling to FunPlus Phoenix in the finals. 

A Perkz move to NA would be a huge blow to G2 and the LEC as a whole, giving up a generational talent as they move towards the prospect of a huge payday. North America has historically struggled at international competition, especially at Worlds. Many believe a move to NA would by default eliminate any chance that Perkz sees another Worlds final in his career. 

While all this remains speculation until an official announcement, some teams are more likely destinations than others. A move to Cloud9 would reunite Perkz with old EU LCS teammates. Meanwhile, 100 Thieves just announced the departure of Liyu “Cody Sun” Sun, giving them a spot that needs filling. It’s also not certain whether Perkz will continue to play bot lane, instead returning to Mid, where he’s played for many seasons. 

Wherever Perkz finally lands will gain the benefit of one of the most internationally experienced players in League of Legends. Having been to three MSI tournaments, and had four consecutive Worlds appearances with G2, there’s few with a similar resume in the game. Perkz is an upgrade over almost every player in his role in the North American region.

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LEC reveals record viewership ahead of Worlds 2020

Worlds 2020 is less than a month away, and for one region in particular there’s already plenty to celebrate. Namely Europe, where the League of Legends European Championship has had one of it’s best ever seasons for viewership.

In a detailed post on reviewing the 2020 LEC Summer viewership, the Rioter Alberto “Tiroless” Guerrero revealed the record-setting figures. Overall the LEC’s peak concurrent viewers hit close to one million, reaching a height of 952,339, an increase of 16.7 percent. However, this wasn’t some kind of outlier with the average viewership not far off that mark at 819,415.

That number, which would put it ahead of many TV shows on traditional media for live viewing figures, represents a 70% increase since last year for the Summer Split. The report also states that this was the highest viewed season ever in Europe.

The news comes as the LEC has received universal praise for it’s revitalised broadcast. The European League of Legends scene was revitalised in 2019 with the rebrand from EU LCS to LEC. Since then the broadcast team has striven to create a unique identity, and the record viewership seems to imply that they’ve been successful in engaging with the audience.

The New Kings

This is a far cry from the dismal years past in which Europe, despite often better individual talent, struggled against the individual personalities and brand recognition in the LCS. Since then, problems with production, and a failure to adapt quickly during the coronavirus pandemic, has seen the LCS loose pace with the LEC.

During both League’s respective finals, the LEC hit its peak viewership. Meanwhile, the LCS struggled to beat over half of that, peaking at 545,571, but floundering to a 205,750 on average. This would in part have been down to the five-match war between Team SoloMid and FlyQuest dragging on for so long, while the quick pace of the LEC finals would have kept viewers excited. 

Regardless, it’s a dramatic shift in fortunes for both leagues, and a wake-up call for the LCS, who must now attempt to regain their dominance of the platform in the wake of the LEC’s record viewership.

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