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One of the biggest e-sports leagues doesn’t make money.
League of Legends developer Riot runs its own competitive association for the multiplayer online-battle-arena game League of Legends. That organization, known as the League Championship Series, isn’t generating a profit for Riot.
“It’s a significant investment that we’re not making money from,” Riot e-sports chief Dustin Beck told PC Games N in an interview.
But Riot isn’t concerned that the LCS is costing it money because it views it as reasonable marketing cost.
“It’s an investment into the game for our fans — just like we’d invest in any other feature within the game,” said Beck. “It’s a worthwhile thing for us to do because it’s such a high quality, engaging experience for our fans.”
Riot won’t divulge exactly how much money it is putting into the LCS, but the total prize pool for Season 3 amounts to $8 million alone. That’s before the cost of booking a venue, paying a production staff, and logistics.
“What we’ve really done is we’ve mimicked what traditional sports do,” Beck said. “We wanted to create a consistent league structure similar to FIFA, similar to Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association. What that allows for is more fandom and more storylines around players, around teams, around rivalries. What we learned from last year doing this one big tournament last year… was that it was really hard for fans to have a big following or an allegiance to a specific team. Now that we’ve done this regular season and we’ve created this large platform for viewers to watch, it’s actually a more compelling, more rewarding experience for the championship.”
The LCS’s regular season just came to an end, and Riot is gearing up for the postseason and the World Championship event that it‘s holding at the Staples Center — the home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers — in Los Angeles.
“I wish we could say we are ready [for the L.A. event],” said Beck. “We are living in the moment, day by day. It’s a conference battle, so we’re cutting off one-quarter of the stadium and building a massive stage. It’ll be visually appealing to all of our players. It’s something we’ve really prided ourselves on. What we’ve always wanted to do is incrementally expand what our visual set is for our fans. We think it’s going to have a culminating impact.”
The League of Legends World Championships is coming Oct. 4. Tickets for the event are on sale now at LOLesports.com.
So while Riot and its fans want to position LCS as a legitimate sport, the league can’t do what all other major sports leagues do: make a profit.