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The climax of League of Legends' third season of competitive play was the most watched eSports event ever. LoL developer Riot Games announced today that over 32 million fans tuned in to watch the World Championship.
At one point, over 8.5 million fans were watching the finals simultaneously. The numbers are even more impressive when you stack them against last year's viewership. The Season 2 World Championship was viewed by 8.2 million fans, with a peak concurrency of 1.1 million.
"In short, we're beyond humbled by your passion for and commitment to League of Legends," Riot Games said on the LoL blog.
SK Telecom T1 and Royal Club fought for the championship in front of a sellout crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. SKT managed to sweep Royal Club, 3-0, to win the crown. While the viewership numbers were incredible, I wonder how much larger they would've been had the finals been more competitive. Presumably a lot of fans stopped watching after SKT gained a clear upper hand.
It seems like Riot is wondering the same thing. As they prepare for Season 4, they're making a number of changes to the game's flow. One of their objectives is to make comebacks easier to accomplish. For example, the respawn timer and gold reward for early kills have both been reduced. Riot has also lowered the buff that minions receive after an inhibitor has been destroyed.
The development hopes that these changes will prevent matches from snowballing. That should make the last minutes more watchable for spectators. I imagine it'd make the game more interesting for players, too.
The Season 4 World Championship will be held next fall in South Korea. We've got a year's worth of competitive LoL play to watch before then, though. Top teams from North America and Europe will duke it out during the Battle of the Atlantic Tournament before Season 4's launch. Once regular season play begins, the best amateur teams will compete for a spot in LCS in the Challenger Series. All-Star teams from throughout the world will meet in Europe for the All-Star game halfway through the season.