The Upper Bracket is MonteCristo‘s editorial column on the League of Legends eSports scene. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to get the latest League of Legends eSports updates!
As Riot’s Season Two races to its conclusion, League of Legends nears the delivery of the largest single prize pool awarded in eSports history. The fame of teams and players has reached vertiginous heights as millions watch the streams of major events, and LoL stands alone as the champion of competitive gaming worldwide.
In this brave new world of eSports, on key difference sets League of Legends apart when compared to its closest competitor, Starcraft II: fan support of community figureheads and projects. We know that League of Legends captures the largest audience amongst its brethren, but why does the wider fanbase not rally around its casters and content producers?
While this conundrum has plagued me for some time, IPL’s Buddy Hutton spurred my need to speak when he asked the Reddit community what kind of shows they would be interested in supporting. IPL announced that their LoL Update series has been having trouble finding a wide audience in spite of its high production quality, humorous writing, and professional player appearances. Surprised by this news, I checked their latest show and discovered that it had received a disappointing 15,000 views. YouTube content producers know that this translates to a paltry $30 to $50, depending on how many viewers were served advertisements. From IPL’s perspective, using several salaried employees to produce a show that generates little revenue is a significant waste of resources.
As a result of these low numbers, the bosses at IPL are reducing the number of LoL Updates to only two per month and focusing their efforts on new content. While I’m sure the crack crew at IPL will produce some more wonderful shows for the community, it seems that any new production is doomed to monetary failure. How can that possibly be the case when IPL commands so much attention due to their tournaments and prestige?
The most perplexing aspect of the League of Legends fanbase remains how little it seems to care about supporting the shows, casters, and websites that fans claim to value. Many of the people who enjoy LoL Update do not subscribe to the IPL’s LoL YouTube channel and they do not follow the hosts on Twitter. In fact, the only reason that many people watch LoL Update at all is because it appears, conveniently, on the front page of the League of Legends sub-Reddit.
As any LoL content producer knows, one of the only ways to get views, watches, or listens on your product is to post it to the LoL sub-Reddit and pray that it gains traction. While Reddit only accounts for a tiny portion of the sizeable League of Legends community, it is the one and only content-friendly board for our favorite game. Fans have become so reliant on the LoL sub-Reddit to bring them content, that producers must place every single show on the board or risk receiving drastically lower views, no matter the quality of the show or article in question.
A capitalistic argument could be made that this content fails because it lacks appeal. I think that the majority of people who actually watch LoL Update, or much of the other quality content produced by our talented scene, want it to continue but neglect their duty to subscribe. Good content, and companies like IPL that take risks to raise the bar on production quality, legitimizes eSports and helps develop the community we love. In order to truly thrive, the community must support those who create content and provide services. Individuals like Travis Gafford from State of the League help to make shows that fans enjoy, but it’s up to us to help them make a living and dedicate more time to creating content. Please, as fans, lets support them.
Even casters in League of Legends hold minute fan-bases compared to their Starcraft 2 counterparts. Leigh ‘Deman’ Smith is, without a doubt, one of the most famous and accomplished casters in League of Legends, and has been featured at the overwhelming majority of important offline events. Deman’s Twitter followers number a paltry 2,800, while well-known Starcraft caster Nick ‘Tasteless’ Plott commands 62,000. Why does this discrepancy exist? The League of Legends community is failing its heroes and, without these content-producers thriving, eSports cannot succeed.
The tournaments will continue, but the interstitial content holds interest in the downtime and helps maintain community zeal between competitions. The analysis, debates, and conversations keep the ball rolling and mint long-term fans. The Starcraft community loves its content producers and supports them at every turn, offering constructive criticism and celebrating its own scene.
While I am by no means an advocate of universally supporting content, I know that many of us fail to take the time to offer a follow or a subscription. If you call yourself a fan of something, spend a minute or two to demonstrate your appreciation on social media and message boards. Let’s get excited and enthusiastic about the wonderful people in League of Legends who help to author the experiences that we adore.
I challenge League of Legends fans to acknowledge the content producers and become more involved in the scene. A follow on Twitter and a quick message saying how much you enjoy your favorite caster’s work can make their day. For many content producers, recognition from fans is what keeps them slaving away at keyboards, in front of cameras, and on the microphone. Let’s do it, as it will only mean better content for you and a brighter future for LoL as an eSport.