For the first time since its creation as a competitive format in 2011, the League of Legends finals are held in Mexico and Latin America. The so-called Play Ins, which define the finalists who will travel to New York and later to San Francisco for the final, are held for the first time in our country, from the Arena in Artz Pedregal.
League of Legends is already a global phenomenon, especially in the esports format, and it is not surprising that of the top 5 competitive video game audience records, four correspond to this title, in the same way that the highest paid players and those who distribute prizes more substantial in the world.
The 2022 edition, which starts in Mexico City from September 29 to October 4, distributes more than 2 million dollars between winners and participants and the amount can even rise, since it includes a percentage of the sales of the World Cup skins.
The tournament in Mexico can be seen in person at the Plaza Artz Arena, in Cinemex rooms and from different “Viewing parties” in the city.
In an interview with Naz Aletaha, Global Head of Esports at Riot Games, we were able to talk about the plans, the perspectives of Worlds in Mexico and the reason for the game’s recent alliances with brands like Tiffany, Mercedes Benz or artists like Lil Nas X.
For Aletaha, one of the most recognized personalities in the world of video games, the important thing about linking up with these global brands and especially luxury ones, has a factor of recognition and prestige.
“We must change the paradigm of how gamers are perceived in the world,” he says when talking about the prejudices that are held about the gamer profile and how it can be developed in the industry.
According to industry data, in Mexico the average gamer is 32 years old, 70% of them have children and the cost for a gamer set up ranges from 9,000 to 90,000 Mexican pesos. Under these standards, it is easier to get out of the stereotype of the consumption of food or beverage brands and migrate to luxury and design.
There are three key moments in this regard. The first, the design of the trophy that the champion will lift, was designed by the Tiffany & Co. jewelry brand and will even host World Cup activities at its Flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York. Second, in true NFL or NBA style, the winner’s rings were designed by Mercedes Benz, and even a futuristic car based on the game.
Finally, this year’s anthem was in charge of Lil Nas X, one of the most relevant artists of recent years, with the song Star Walkin’ on YouTube exceeds 12 million views within 8 days of its global release. It will be the same artist who will also have a performance in the final live in San Francisco from the Chase Center, with a capacity of more than 18 spectators.
“An important part of these alliances has the purpose of giving the message about what is important in the industry, which is looking for great minds not only in players, but also in multiple disciplines at the highest level”, complements the director.
The value of Latin America for esports
Although the video game industry in the region is growing, it is still far from the economic reach of other more consolidated markets such as China, Japan or Korea.
According to figures from Statista, while in Mexico revenues were estimated in 2020 of more than 1,500 million dollars, China exceeded 49,000 million. In the specific case of competitions worldwide, in 2020 revenues were estimated to exceed 950 million dollars. Actions such as having offices in Latin America help speed up the process of maturing and approaching new audiences.
For Lorena Batarse, Managing Director of Riot Games Americas and Oceania, “having events like this in Mexico demonstrates the commitment to the region and the country’s potential in video games”, since it is not only limited to physical access, but also seeks conquer the more than 460 million viewers of video game competitions and the 580 million viewers estimated for 2024.
League of Legends is one of the games with the longest history in the competitive format. It is also the benchmark for these organizations and sets the course that many franchises can take. Today the game has surpassed this canon and has become multiplatform, since additional business models have been developed such as merchandise, conventions and even series or comics, as has happened with Halo, Cyberpunk 2077 or Cuphead.
For Lorena, it is crucial to “put the fan at the center of the experience” thinking of gamers’ different forms of entertainment consumption, as people who are completely different from each other and who share a passion for a video game. Today, saying gamer has the simile of saying that they like soccer, they share a passion, but they have heterogeneous audiences of socioeconomic level, age or gender.
How to stay ahead?
The popularization of video games has brought multiple advantages and development of companies through competition regarding monthly players, prizes or attendees at competitions. Cases such as Fortnite, DOTA or Free Fire suppose a division of audiences, of attracting audiences.
For Aletaha, this does not imply a decrease in opportunities but on the contrary, it opens up new joint markets. “Having these competitions would be like having the NBA or the NFL, more sports and more enthusiasts, like LoL with other video games.”
Worlds arrives in Mexico as a first step, with the opportunity to test strategies, to create and discover the national LoL community, to open a high-growth market with the promise of hosting more important and far-reaching competitions in the future. It is also an opportunity for the Mexican market to demonstrate its community, its proximity and economic power, becoming a destination for everyday gaming.