Take a peek at what’s next for League of Legends in 2020.
League of Legends (abbreviated LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games for Microsoft Windows and macOS. The game follows a freemium model and is supported by microtransactions, and was inspired by the Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne mod, Defense of the Ancients.
In League of Legends, players assume the role of an unseen “summoner” that controls a “champion” with unique abilities and battle against a team of other players or computer-controlled champions. The goal is usually to destroy the opposing team’s “Nexus”, a structure that lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures, although other distinct game modes exist as well. Each League of Legends match is discrete, with all champions starting off relatively weak but increasing in strength by accumulating items and experience over the course of the game. The champions and setting blend a variety of elements, including high fantasy, steampunk, and Lovecraftian horror.
League of Legends was generally well received upon its release in 2009, and has since grown in popularity, with an active and expansive fanbase. By July 2012, League of Legends was the most played PC game in North America and Europe in terms of the number of hours played. In January 2014, over 67 million people played League of Legends per month, 27 million per day, and over 7.5 million concurrently during peak hours. League has among the largest footprints of any game in streaming media communities on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch; it routinely ranks first in the most-watched hours. In September 2016, the company estimated that there are over 100 million active players each month. The game’s popularity has led it to expand into merchandise, with toys, accessories, apparel, as well as tie-ins to other media through music videos, web series, documentaries, and books.
League of Legends has an active and widespread competitive scene. In North America and Europe, Riot Games organizes the League Championship Series (LCS), located in Los Angeles and the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), located in Berlin, respectively, each of which consist of 10 professional teams. Similar regional competitions exist in China (LPL), South Korea (LCK), and various other regions. These regional competitions culminate with the annual World Championship. The 2017 World Championship had 60 million unique viewers and a total prize pool of over US$4 million. The 2018 Mid-Season Invitational had an overall peak concurrent viewership of 19.8 million, while the finals had an average concurrent viewership of 11 million.
An abridged version of the game called League of Legends: Wild Rift for mobile and console, was announced on October 15, 2019.
League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game in the three-dimensional isometric perspective. The game consists of two current running game modes: Summoner’s Rift and Howling Abyss. Older game modes, The Crystal Scar and Twisted Treeline, has since been removed. Players compete in matches, lasting anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes on average. In each game mode, teams work together to achieve a victory condition, typically destroying the core building (called the Nexus) in the enemy team’s base after bypassing a line of defensive structures called turrets, or towers.
In all game modes, players control characters called champions, chosen or assigned every match, who each have a set of unique abilities. Champions begin every match at a low level, and then gain experience over the course of the match to achieve a maximum level of 18. Gaining champion levels in matches allows players to unlock their champion’s special abilities and augment them in a number of ways unique to each character. If a champion loses all their health, they are defeated but are automatically revived in their base after enough time passes. Players also begin each match with a low amount of gold, and can earn additional gold throughout the match in a variety of ways: by killing non-player characters known as minions and monsters; by killing or helping to kill enemy players; by destroying enemy structures; passively over time; and through unique item interactions or champion abilities. This gold can then be spent throughout the match to buy in-game items that further augment each champion’s abilities and gameplay in a variety of ways. Champion experience, gold earned, and items bought are specific to each match and do not carry over to subsequent matches. Thus, all players begin each match on a more-or-less equal footing relative to their opposing team.
Across matches, players also earn rewards that are applied to their account. Player accounts begin at level one and progress onward with games played. Player level is separate from character level; both a level 30 account and a level 5 account would begin at character level 1 at the start of a new game. From 2009–2017, the maximum account level was 30, and as players progressed, they unlocked additional content and abilities. This system was reworked in November 2017, with the removal of the level 30 limit and removal of a Runes / Masteries system that gave in-game bonuses to players based on their account level. Playing matches and leveling up provides “Blue Essence” (called “Influence Points” (IP) from 2009–2017), a currency that can be used in lieu of “real money” to access certain locked features.
Accounts are given rankings based on the Elo rating system, with proprietary adjustments by Riot Games. These ratings are used in automated matchmaking to make games with players of comparable skill level on each team.
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