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Exciting weekend for League of Legends gamers

This past Friday, October 4, Riot Games hosted the Season 3 League of Legends World Championship. The event boasted over 1 million concurrent viewers online, excluding the millions watching in China and on South Korea's mainstream television channel. 2 million dollars of prize money was handed out to professionals no older than a typical college student. But what's all the hype about, really?

League of Legends is a MOBA-style (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) computer game that has become wildly successful over the past several years. League is developer Riot Games' only product, and its development has been focused primarily around one core element: the community. Riot has gone out of its way to make everything about the game as player-focused as possible, including an innovative marketing strategy based only on in-game microtransactions. The game itself, however, is free for anybody to download. This has made the game wildly popular, boasting a number of hours played per year more than 1.6x greater than World of Warcraft (the second most popular computer game in the world) one year ago.

This year was a big year for League of Legends and e-sports. Riot sponsored the LCS (League of Legends Championship Series) in both North America and Europe, which welcomed 10 salaried professional teams per region. These teams faced off in weekly matchups, similar to the NFL or other professional sports leagues. Matches were streamed live to hundreds of thousands of fans by production crews that have worked on big-name productions such as MLB broadcasts. Also, the United States government has awarded LCS players a special class of visa awarded only to professional athletes that frequently enter and exit the country. The LCS had both a spring and summer season, with $50,000 prizes for each season's winning team. In between seasons, Riot hosted an all-star weekend, with all-star teams competing for each of the five main regions in League of Legends (North America, Europe, Korea, China and Southeast Asia).

All of this action led up to the world championships. This month-long tournament began with 14 teams from all over the world. One by one, teams were eliminated in thrilling battles of unmatched skill. The final eight teams consisted of one American team, two European teams, two Korean teams two Chinese teams, and one Taiwanese team. The action-packed tournament took place with a live audience, an analyst desk, instant replay and other features fans of sporting events have come to expect. The Staples Center, a venue in Los Angeles that has hosted the NBA Finals and concerts for artists like Justin Timberlake, was the location selected for the world finals. Over 13,000 fans packed the stadium, and players commented that it was difficult to hear the game with their supposedly noise-proof headsets over the roar of the fans. The final match was between South Korea's SK Telecom T1 and China's Royal Club. SKTT1 handily defeated their Chinese opponents, taking the best of five series in three games.

A new season of the LCS will begin this coming spring, with professional teams fighting to qualify during the winter. Additionally, Riot has announced a new Challenger Series, with the top 32 ranked teams in the continent playing weekly for smaller prize pools. This will give fans plenty of matches to watch for the upcoming Season 4!

To learn more about the League of Legends professional scene, visit www.lolesports.com and tune in to scheduled matches. If you're interested in trying the game for free, visit www.leagueoflegends.com and sign up! (Make sure you mention that HIACliff referred you) In November, ONU's chapter of IEEE will be hosting a campus-wide League of Legends tournament, so watch for a student-l with more information

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