Riot Plans New Champions to Keep League of Legends at the Top of its Game
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for a few years, the incredible rise of eSports will not have escaped your attention. Competitive gaming has become a global phenomenon, with market intelligence body Newzoo predicting it will generate revenues of $696 million this year with the figure growing to $1.5 billion by 2020. The world of eSports, of course, takes in a host of different games, from arcade classics such as Tekken and Street Fighter to real-time strategy and online battle arena-style titles such as Heroes of the Storm. However, the two undoubted stars of competitive gaming are Dota 2 and League of Legends. While Dota 2 may be the biggest hitter in terms of prize money, with more $100 million being awarded at tournaments based on the game, League of Legends is arguably the most enduring title in the world of eSports.
A global phenomenon
Originally released in 2009 and inspired by Warcraft, the game has proven so popular that developer Riot Games created an entire official worldwide tournament around it. Top sides now compete in regions across the globe in the League of Legends Championship Series for a place in the World Championships, where last year teams did battle for a share of the $5 million prize pool. The level of interest in League of Legends means it has attracted the attention of major businesses like Acer – which last year sponsored the streaming of the World Championships – while major bookmakers also now offer odds on the outcome of matches. For example, as of July 8th, Betway Esports was offering odds of 6/1 on Moss Seven-Club beating Game Talents in the LSPL Summer Split. The game has also become a huge inspiration for fans, with many cosplayers taking their cues from the incredible roster of characters on offer.
Keeping it fresh
However, while all of the above means eSports and League of Legends, in particular, are in rude health, this has not stopped Riot Games from carefully considering what it can do to ensure that the title stays fresh and popular with gamers and fans. After all, it has been eight years since the game was released, which means a lot has changed in terms of graphics and gameplay across that time. In a recent blog post, the game’s lead producer Ryan “REAV3” Mireles outlined Riot Games’ latest plans to keep things moving forward. He revealed that more than 130 ‘champions’ have been added to the game since its launch, but added that this, of course, had a knock-on effort in terms of the visual and gameplay aspects of older characters. As a result, Riot is employing teams to both update existing champions and also to develop new ones.
Such updates have tended to be deployed in seasonal releases, but one of the interesting morsels of information in the article was that these are set to be discontinued. Many reasons were given, but ultimately a focus is to be kept on individuals which need work.
New additions on the way
Arguably the biggest revelation in the blog post was news that new champions are on their way, with REAV3 focusing on a new jungle character who is on the horizon. Discussing the character, he said: “After Ivern, we wanted to try our hand at a more aggressive, damage-focused champion that should feel at home in the jungle. They will also be our first transformation champion since Gnar, but this take on transformation will be unlike any champion we have ever made.” The information is a tantalising teaser for the future that it is ahead. The aforementioned Ivern is a popular jungle champion along with the likes of Kha-zix and Rengar, but a new addition is likely to generate a lot of interest and it is highly likely that top teams such as SK Telecom T1 and ROX Tigers will assess whether their jungler players will benefit from using a new character.
Exciting times ahead
Ultimately, the news of new champions is always welcome and yet another sign that, despite its age, Riot Games continues to have big plans to keep League of Legends at the top of the eSports world for many years to come. There are undoubtedly exciting times ahead and we cannot wait to see what else is on the horizon.