Why League of Legends Rules!


"It's a legitimate sport, and there are millions of fans around the world who pay good money to watch you play," says professional League of Legends player Yiliang "Peter" Peng. "There are a bunch of sponsors around the world who pay thousands and thousands of dollars every month just to put their name on your jersey."

With nearly a billion hours of logged game play and over 70 million unique accountsLeague of Legends has become the fastest-growing game in the world.

Born through open-source tinkering of a game named Defense of the AncientsLeague of Legends is a free online multi-player battle arena powered by a community of 40 million regular players. While the game's concept is not unique—its strategy is similar to that of chess—the platform has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the video game industry since its release in October 2009.  

Though many video games have amassed cult-like followings over the years, League of Legends stands out because of the emphasis placed on its professional players. Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends, used its players' feedback to make improvements and added production values by showcasing battles as a spectator sport.

"League of Legends…has done so well because first they built a game that was really, really fun," says Steve Arhancet, director of eSports at Curse Gaming. "Then they listened to their community."

While some may scoff at the notion of video gamers as professional athletes, Riot Games has spared no expense in emulating the look and feel of a pro sports event. Every live League of Legends competition comes complete with a Jumbotron, professional announcers (called "shoutcasters"), concessions, and die-hard fans. The live events are so popular that in its third season, League of Legends sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles for its world championship. Events in Shanghai have drawn crowds in the hundreds of thousands. While it's still unclear whether the success of League of Legends is a fluke or a trend, many gaming experts predict that this is just the beginning of the emergence of eSports into popular culture.

You can download League of Legends for free here.

Approximately 5:30 minutes.

Produced by Will Neff and Scott Shackford. Camera by Alexander Manning.

Music by: EnV—Bonus Level

NEXT: Video Q/A with Gamer-Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I normally pride myself as being fairly up-to-date on pop culture, but I have literally never heard of this.

    1. ditto

    2. Me neither – but that is not surprising since I avoid “free” games like the plague.

    3. I didn’t hear of it until a couple of weeks ago. I downloaded it and checked it out. I was thoroughly unimpressed.

      But then again, I am not a fan of this “new breed” of on-line gaming where your success is predicated on how much money spend. But unfortunately, the greedy developers see this as a cash cow. I’ll stick with games such as CoD where, after buying the game, the only money you have to spend is for new map packs. Your success is determined by skill and dedication, not how many thousands you spend to “improve” your character.

  2. Dota4lyfe

  3. I’m kind of amazed at the popularity of LoL, and its ability to get people to spend hundreds of dollars on fucking character skins. Not my thing, but that’s cool.

      1. this comment worked here… but once I go to AM Links, it’s a no go.

        1. Must be a thread specific issue. The threads people comment on don’t work, BS threads about movies do.

          1. Wonder if that’s because this isn’t “H&R” but Reason TV.

            1. How in the fuck could that possibly make a difference?

              But then again, I dont understand how it can be thread dependent at all.

              1. Ah…wait…multiple servers? That could explain it.

    1. The squirrels are busy playing League of Legends.

  4. Never heard of it

  5. Cool. It’s interesting how new and lucrative industries are created. It’s not necessary to protect legacy jobs/industries by government bailouts or protectionism. Humans are intelligent and creative, and will always be able to invent new jobs/industries.

  6. Fuck it, welcome to the new AM links:

    I wonder if Obama’s constantly ignoring deadlines to keep the thing afloat will create an atmosphere of increased or decreased accountability among OCare burearcrats:

    The VA’s Socialist Paradise
    …As my National Review colleague Jonah Goldberg points out, the usual excuses don’t apply here. The existence of the VA isn’t politically controversial. No one is trying to repeal it, or “sabotage” it. It hasn’t lacked for funds. Its budget has been increasing at a rapid clip. What we’re seeing is simply unaccountable bureaucracy in action….

    In 2012, PolitiFact Rated Obama’s Promise to “Make the VA a Leader in National Health” A “Promise Kept”
    Is that embarrassing? Well, PolitiFact has revisited that old “promise kept” rating. It now rates it… “promise stalled.”…

    1. 23.05.14 rectify VA ungood rating ref

    2. It now rates it… “promise stalled.”…

      Not a bad campaign slogan for 2016. Too bad he can’t run again.

      1. …yet.

  7. Krugman, Kristof, and Klein All Praised the “Success” of the VA’s Socialized Medicine Model
    …But the stupidity of the left is its abject refusal to see that The Government is a corporation, and is in fact the most powerful, richest, and most heavily armed corporation in the history of the world.

    The left endlessly rages against misbehaving corporations with one-one thousandth of the resources of the government, and of course none of the government’s armed agents and prison wardens, and endlessly fights to take power out of the hands of the misbehaving, selfishly-motivated unarmed corporation… and put that power into the hands of the misbehaving, selfishly-motivated armed corporation.

    They’re never quite able to understand this: The conservative preference for power in private hands isn’t that we love big, unaccountable, guild-agenda-serving corporations.

    It’s that the alternative ever proposed by the left is just an even bigger, more unaccountable, more guild-agenda-serving corporation called the US Government.

    And you can’t quit the US Government without quitting the the United States itself.

  8. Socialist Supermodel
    Not long ago, the left raved about the VA.

    …Krugman is far from alone in having oversold the VA. Timothy Noah, then with Slate.com, proclaimed in 2005: “Socialized medicine has been tried in the United States, and it has proven superior to health care supplied by the private sector. . . . The socialized medicine to which I refer is the complex of hospitals managed by the Veterans Administration.” His post, “The Triumph of Socialized Medicine,” was based on a Washington Monthly article by Phillip Longman, which carried the slightly more modest headline “The Best Care Anywhere.” And in 2009, Ezra Klein revealed that “one of my favorite ideas” is “expanding the Veterans Health Administration to non-veterans.”…

  9. Left’s VA-Worship Comes Back to Bite
    …Similarly, Nicholas Kristof of the Times wrote in 2009:

    Take the hospital system run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest integrated health system in the United States. It is fully government run, much more “socialized medicine” than is Canadian health care with its private doctors and hospitals. And the system for veterans is by all accounts one of the best-performing and most cost-effectiveelements in the American medical establishment.

    Just last year, Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton wrote in the pages of the Times:

    Remarkably, Americans of all political stripes have long reserved for our veterans the purest form of socialized medicine, the vast health system operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (generally known as the V.A. health system). If socialized medicine is as bad as so many on this side of the Atlantic claim, why have both political parties ruling this land deemed socialized medicine the best health system for military veterans? Or do they just not care about them?…

    1. …Jonathan Golob of The Seattle Stranger has written in the same vein: “Every time I read about a Teabagger ranting about how socialized medicine will destroy this country I think of the VA system. There it is, a huge and vastly important universal healthcare system?government run, single payer and therefore socialist?right here in the brave and privatized United States: The Veterans Affairs hospitals.”…

      1. The most surprising thing about this “scandal” to me is that so few people have actually encountered the rank fucking incompetence of the VA system until now. This is nothing new, nothing novel. Par for the fucking course. There’s a shit ton of VA doctors who have lost their licenses multiple times, and the standard of care has ALWAYS been comparable to a veterinary clinic. As many people as have experienced the VA system first hand or know someone who has I can’t believe they got away with that bullshit in the first place.

        1. This.

          Everyone I know who has dealt with the VA hates it. They use it because the price is good.

        2. Hey, watch it with that misinformed libellous shit, PM. The vast majority of veterinary clinics are clean, competent and efficient with an extremely high level of customer satisfaction. It’s offensive to compare them to the VA’s gulags.

  10. How political insiders control the ballot

    In Massachusetts this week, the ballot campaign to repeal the automatic hike in gasoline taxes is rallying around the state to collect the 11,000 signatures it needs to place the issue before the voters in November. (That’s on top of the 88,000 certified voter signatures the campaign submitted last fall.) But the rules are so onerous that organizers know that to be sure of clearing that hurdle, they need to get more than twice as many voters to sign: Their goal is 24,000. Volunteers circulating the petitions are given detailed rules for handling the forms. Number 1 on the list: “No marks on the papers. The Secretary of State’s office throws out all papers with marks on them.” Under Massachusetts law, one errant squiggle, highlighting, or underline on a petition is enough to disqualify every signature on the page.

  11. and my last one for this faux AM Links

    Police: BASE jumper too drunk to exit canyon

    Authorities in south-central Idaho say a 30-year-old South Carolina BASE jumper who successfully parachuted into the Snake River Canyon had to be rescued because he was too intoxicated to walk out on his own.

  12. So we can post comments on this article? C’mon Reason, get your fucking act together.


      And California, Michigan and Ohio.

      And the gummint.

      1. And the gummint.

      2. Mostly the government.

    2. This is why we need the FCC to make sure we have net (commenting) neutrality.

  13. Reason really needs to buy a decent piece of commenting software. There are dozens of good ones, some open source, so “buy” may be a loose term.

    1. Srsly – I reduced my donation from $666 to $100 because of this.

      Not kidding.

      Who owns reason.com? Oh, The Jacket?


      1. Who run Reasontown? Jacket run Reasontown!

  14. It’s a shame that the LoL player community is so incredibly toxic. Although, it’s not my type of game, so I don’t have to deal with it.

    1. Why is the community toxic? I know absolutely nothing about it.

      1. A lot of players are incredibly verbally abusive and have no patience towards anyone who makes a mistake. Kind of like the Call of Duty community, but reputed to be even worse. Oddly, Brazilians are supposedly the worst. It’s so bad that the developer has a team of 30+ people dedicated to improving player behavior.

        1. Brazilians are supposedly the worst

          I did not know Nicole is Brasilian. Good to know…

            1. Chicagoans = Brazillians
              Los Angelenos = French
              New Yorkers = Koreans
              Bostonians = Irish
              Clevelanders = El Salvadorans

        2. Brazilians are supposedly the worst

          They gave them their own servers because nobody else wanted to play with them.

        3. A lot of players are incredibly verbally abusive and have no patience towards anyone who makes a mistake

          This is exactly the sort of reception I would have predicted for this sort of game.

          1. If you have never played before or played any similar kind of game and hop on the servers, do you get assigned to someone’s team or do you have to have a bunch of friends on the server to be on a team?

            Because it would be lots of lulz to get yourself imposed on some team, and then be the worst player at this game, ever, and listen to all the chat abuse.

            1. You can form your own group or get randomly matched up with other players.

              Because it would be lots of lulz to get yourself imposed on some team, and then be the worst player at this game, ever, and listen to all the chat abuse.

              That’s exactly what new players have to endure.

    2. Agreed, the community is generally terrible. I think my 2nd or 3rd match I was playing with a few of my very experienced friends, and got thrown in a match with all max level players, fully unlocked runes and all that. I, of course, had no idea what I was doing other than “get the last hit on the creeps and don’t get killed by other champs.” Yeah, ok, easy enough in theory, but of course in practice had no fucking idea what was going on. My non-friend teammates are just cursing me out, calling me a feeder and all that shit. That was enough to just say fuck this game, not going to invest the time to actually learn it.

      1. That’s about my experience of any video game I’ve tried from the last 15 years or so.

        1. No, it really hasn’t, what a stupid thing for you to lie about.

      2. I use video games to get time away from morons, why would I play MMO games?

  15. It’s no wonder that birthrates are falling.

  16. Why does the Comments system keep breaking?

    Just fix it and then leave it alone.

  17. Wikileaks revealed the second country where the NSA is recording and storing almost all phone calls. As expected, it’s Afghanistan.

  18. There are similar venues with sponsors and big prizes for other games and types of games as well. Warcraft, shooters, fighters, etc. Internet streaming, primarily on twitch.tv, has really made e-sports grow (which is probably why Google just bought twitch for $1B). There are also game centers like Howie’s Game Shack that provide mini-venues.

    I think however, the earliest physical venues may have started with fighting games. EVO, which has become the Olympics of fighters, started in 1996. Those events were an outgrowth of arcade matches that traditionally relied on in-person PvP before the explosion of online play but also due in part to the games being extremely latency sensitive.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.