Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images
It’s unfortunate that football really doesn’t have an equivalent to the home run, isn’t it? 90-yard completion for a touchdown really doesn’t roll off the tongue as fluidly. But whatever sports analogy you prefer, Monday Night League knocked it out of the park in week one.
There was no doubt that living up to the moniker ‘Monday Night’ that the NFL has built over the last half century would be difficult task. Indeed, the first episode of Monday Night Football was in September of 1970. Since that match, which the Cleveland Browns won 31-21 over the New York Jets, Monday Night Football has become a mainstay in sports and pop culture. Now, Riot Games is looking to carve out the same space in esports.
Three major questions faced Riot this week.
- Could they get fans to tune in on a Monday, a day typically dead in the world of esports?
- Could they make the matches feel important? Worthy of being on Monday night?
- Would the rest of the weekend suffer?
Let’s break down how each of these played out.
Did fans tune in?
Obviously, this is the most important metric of the three. If no one tuned in to watch, it would be difficult to call it a success. Fortunately for Riot, this was not the case. All the numbers aren’t in yet, but even a quick look at the LCS YouTube page reveals that Monday Night League has had over 328 thousand views. (As of writing.)
Week one viewership is a risky metric. People have been without competitive League since November. The curiosity factor is high with Monday Night League, and fans of every team can hope this is the split that their team makes it. I would expect viewership to drop over the next week or two, but not immensely.
Did the matches feel important?
This is a very objective point. What feels important to one person may not to another. For me, the deciding factor wont be seen until next week. The question is “Were the matches important because of who was playing or when they were playing?” The matches this weekend absolutely felt important, but it cant be ignored that Evil Geniuses, 100 Thieves, Team SoloMid, and Team Liquid were all playing.
The true test of Monday Night League’s importance will be seen when we have a 5th place vs 8th place match-up. Will that game feel important despite not having major impacts on the standings? That remains to be seen, but they’re off to a good start anyway.
Did the rest of the weekend suffer for it?
One of the most stunning things about Monday Night Football is that in spite of how huge it is, Sunday is still king for Football. Whether it’s America’s Game of the Week, Sunday Night, or even a 1 PM kick, everyone knows that Sunday is the day for Football.
So the question is did the rest of the weekend suffer because we were looking forward to Monday Night League? For me, it did a little. Not so much that I didn’t watch, but even as I tuned in for C9 vs. Team Liquid on Saturday, I was thinking ahead to the Monday night match. I would expect this to wear off over the season, as we become accustomed to having the Monday night game.
So congratulations all around to Riot on their debut of Monday Night League. I’m sure we’ll see some tweaks and improvements as the season goes on, but this was a strong product out the gate. They’re continuing to set the bar high, which bodes well for their new games in development. What about you?! Did you tune for Monday Night League? What’d you think?
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