Misfits Academy won the first ever Forge of Champions tournament on Thursday night, bringing an end to several months of planning and esports action.
But for Riot Games and LVP, this is just the start of big plans for the UK League of Legends scene.
We caught up with Mo Fadl, Head of Esports at Riot Games UK, and Maja Milutinovic, UK Country Manager for LVP, to find out how it’s been going so far, and what’s coming next.
The first ever Forge of Champions ended with Misfits Academy taking home the trophy
‘Overall it’s been a crazy six months so far,’ said Fadl, reflecting on the time since Forge of Champions’ announcement earlier this year. ‘Yesterday I saw on our Twitch channel, which started with nothing, that we have 1.1 million views. And this is just for a ramping up, transitional event.
‘The numbers can always be better, but we didn’t expect these numbers. When we first made the forecast for Forge of Champions we said maybe we’ll have a 45% increase in viewership from the previous league, but now we’ve got nearly 10 times the viewership.
‘It’s humbling but at the same time we know there’s so much we can do now with the teams, players, and audience, who are pushing us.’
Forge of Champions is Riot’s biggest commitment to the UK League of Legends scene to date
Maja Milutinovic has only been in her current role for a couple of weeks, but she already has big plans for the future.
‘Our main objective is to create a platform for players to express their full potential,’ she said. ‘We will also look for new ways to engage our audience and viewers. We want everyone to feel part of it. We’ll focus more on content and fan engagement to create an online fan base.’
Feeling part of Forge of Champions was very easy to do, as there were open brackets where anyone could sign up. At the start, Fadl recalls he thought there would be something like 10 teams brave enough to challenge the previous ESL Premiership teams who were automatically qualified for Forge of Champions. In the end, over 3,000 players signed up.
‘A lot of solo players without a team came too, which we didn’t think of,’ he said. ‘Then we had to create this team building tool out of nowhere. We now see there’s a massive audience out there who don’t only want to watch, but play maybe. If you want to be part of it, there’s a place for you.’
Coming up next is a studio in London for games to be broadcast from.
‘We’re aiming for the best in London’ said Milutinovic. ‘We don’t have a definite choice of location right now, but our objective is to find a studio and start broadcasting our shows. Then we’ll see how to expand. Little by little, but in the near future we do plan to include an audience.’
Riot and LVP want to do more to improve the state of professional League of Legends in the UK
But Riot and LVP’s plans are for more than just a traditional venue where you can come and watch League of Legends matches. They say the market is crying out for more.
‘Esports is changing,’ said Fadl. ‘We have to adapt with viewer habits and market habits. Having a studio where people come and sit down is a nice experience, but it should be way more.
‘There are existing places like Insomnia and esports bars that are part of the UK scene that I believe we should help be part of this to help it grow, to be relevant. Instead of saying “this is how we are, and you come to us,” we have to evolve. It’s a unique opportunity in the UK to create something completely new for the high level esports scene.’
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