Photo provided by Riot Games
Well, 2019 is just about over. In the spirit of the new year being right around the corner, we’re giving a sort of State of the Union for some of the major esports out there. League of Legends had a major year in 2019, but for Riot, this year also marks the closing of their first decade. Let’s see how 2019 played out for one of the largest MOBAs in the world.
For those who don’t remember when League of Legends came out way back in late 2009, it was unrecognizable from what it looks like today. The graphics were splotchy and cartoony, the game was not well balanced, and there were only a few champions. However, that didn’t stop League of Legends from exploding into one of the most popular games of the coming decade.
In the modern era, it’s now one of the premiere examples of how a living game. With over 100 playable characters and one of the most powerful esports platforms in the world, the game is pretty much second to none at this point. So let’s take a look at 2019 for League of Legends.
Coming off a rough 2018 that saw Riot mired in a class action lawsuit, 2019 was a dramatic turn around. On the esports front, it was another year of domination in North America for Team Liquid. They won both the spring and summer split, and also made a run all the way to the grand finals at the Mid-Season Invitational.
North America had another difficult year at Worlds, although all three of their teams did make it to the group stages this year. Once again, an incredible musical number opened the World Finals. Just as K/DA launched to stardom last year, this year saw the rise of True Damage, which features artists like Soyeon, Duckwrth, Thutmose, Becky G, and Keke Palmer.
As great a year as it was for League of Legends esports, the true story of 2019 was in the 10 year anniversary special. To celebrate 10 years, Riot held a major two party with all kinds of announcements. The most pertinent of the new announcements was not just one new game, but several. Riot Games is finally putting the ‘Riot Game’ joke to bed with the announcement of a slate of new titles in development.
There had been speculation that Riot was working on a fighting game for a long while and this was confirmed. In addition, we found out they’re working on a shooter title that seems to be in the vein of Counter-Strike. They’re also working on a new tactical RPG, and have an anime in development.
I would argue that Riot had probably the best 2019 of all the major game developers. So what’s in store for them in 2020? They are currently sitting atop the gaming world, running the gold standard for esports. However, it’s an innovate or perish world, so they’ll need to be careful not to rest on their laurels.
Thankfully, it seems that is not at all what they’re intending. With multiple new games in development, we can only speculate that they’ll be attempting to launch multiple new esports leagues over the next few years. Their success over the next decade will directly correlate with how successful these leagues are. If one succeeds, they’ll be solid for the next few years. If multiple succeed? They will own esports.