Source: Riot Games

I have been playing League of Legends since season 1; yes, that's for more than a decade. It wasn't the behemoth of a game it is now; it boasts 115 million concurrent players monthly, million-dollar E-sports events, and even its own Netflix show (Arcane). During the early era of League, you would wait 30 minutes to log in to the client to play a game, or better yet, watching Season 2 Worlds with 100,000 concurrent viewers and thinking that was the pinnacle, how times have changed. This game has grown through its numerous trials and tribulations, and it has come out on top, surpassing any competition it has faced. How did they get there? This article is about the Cinderella story of the game I love and hate, League of Legends. Let's get into the history of how this game got to where it is now.

Source: Riot Games

Humble Beginnings

The story goes of how two college students in the USC dorms, Marc "Tryndamere" Merill and Brandon "Ryze" Beck, theory crafted of a game that is free to play, which was inspired by the rise of a free-to-play model in Asia fused with the emerging genre of MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). Thus they created Riot games in September 2006 and opened their studio, an old machine shop above an overpass in Santa Monica. Yet this is only part of the story.

Let's rewind to 2005; the vision of League of Legends was the brainchild of two different people. Enter Steve' Guinsoo' Feak (the item Guinsoos Rageblade is named after him) and Steve 'Pendragon' Mescon, the administrators of the Warcraft 3 Mod DOTA (Defense against the Ancients), where the MOBA genre was created. They wanted to make a game that was not on the Warcraft 3 platform (which was becoming obsolete), with no limitations to act on their creativity.

The pair was in talks with Riot games (before the companies inception) and hired as the lead developers in League of Legends. This concept of Feak and Mascon took a little over four years to materialize when the game was finally announced on October 7, 2008; this was welcomed with much adore by the emergent MOBA fanbase that was looking for something better than the Mod on Warcraft 3. With 17 playable champions (yes, you read it right, 17 champions), they released the game's beta version in April of 2009. Feak, who was revered in the Warcraft 3 Mod community, flocked to the game, making the game an instant success in the MOBA genre.

On October 27, 2009, the game's full version was released with 40 playable champions. The love and care Feak and Mascon had poured into creating unique character designs showed in-game, thus cementing League of Legends as a MOBA fan favorite. Making the game free to play was an unheard-of concept in western countries, making gamers who were unaware of the genre discover it. Moreover, the game mechanics helped both hardcore and casual gamers enjoy it, making it more accessible to a wide range of players.

Source: Riot Games

League of Legends takes-off

In 2011 Riot Games released a report stating that they had amassed 15 million players, with ten games being started every second; this was a year after the games' full release. Even though League of Legends servers were in western countries at the start, the game had managed to penetrate important markets such as South Korea, which is known as the hub for any E-sport. It quickly caught on to China as a result, which currently has the most prominent player base. Today that number has ballooned to 150 million registered players, with 117 million playing the game monthly, according to activeplayer.io.

Source: Riot Games

Era of E-sports

The first-ever League of Legends World Championship, also known as Worlds Season 1, was held at DreamHack. It has since then grown by leaps and bounds, making it a premier event in the E-sports calendar. The finals of this event have been played in noteworthy venues such as the Staples Center(USA), The Birds Nest(China), and Seoul World Cup Stadium (South Korea), to name a few. In 2021 they played the 11th season of worlds at Reykjavík, Iceland. This event, as the norm, surpassed the previous years in viewership according to Riot with an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 30,604,255 and 73,860,742 Peak Concurrent Viewers (PCU).

Even though Worlds is the main event, there are others, such as the Mid-season invitational. Also, regions have their leagues that have been franchised through the course of the years; the main four leagues are the LCK, LPL, LEC, and LCS, the premier leagues of South Korea, China, Europe, and North America.

Source: Riot Games

League of Legends is here to stay

There have been many games with the hype and E-sports, such as Overwatch or Starcraft, yet all of them have seen their hayday. League of legends going into Season 12 has no idea of stopping yet. It only expands, coming with new game modes such as Teamfight Tactics, an auto battler, Legends of Ruenterra, a collectible card game, a mobile version of the MOBA called Wild Rift and a fighting game called "project L," which is yet to be released. League of Legends even made its way to the masses with its Netflix series "Arcane," which was well-received by the public and critics alike, boasting an IMDB rating of 9.2. The game defined its genre, now looking to expand into other frontiers and push their boundaries. I will leave you with a thought, imagine League of Legends Metaverse; I am sure Riot is keeping its eye, or it's already in development.