E-sport: the incredible popularity of the French league of “League of Legends”

“Karmine! Karmine! Karmine! “ They are around a thousand people gathered at the Carrousel du Louvre this Saturday, January 8, to await the arrival of their team. An “ola” is launched, then the songs resume: “Let’s go Karmine, let’s go Karmine”. When the players make their entrance, shortly after 9 p.m., the commentators have to wait a good two minutes before they can speak again, so many fans are screaming.

→ EXPLANATION. “E-sport”, a mass phenomenon

The event? A gala match between two professional online video game teams League of Legends, (LoL), one Spanish, the KOI, the other French, the Karmine Corp or KCorp. The most prominent team in the French league (LFL), KCorp offers a demonstration of its popularity four days before the resumption of the championship, Wednesday, January 12. At the height of the evening, 375,000 people were following the match from their homes via the Twitch streaming platform. Figures which confirm the growing attraction, in France, of the public for e-sport in general and for this game in particular.

Attract new and old viewers

Launched in 2019 and produced by Webedia, a company specializing in the production of online content, the LFL recorded in 2020 an average of 10,000 viewers per game. A year later, that average hovers around 40,000, peaking at over 180,000 viewers in some matches.

KCorp’s eruption into the LFL in 2021 seems to have played a big part in this growing success. “This team is supported by two influencers, Kameto and Prime. They already had a lot of fans who didn’t necessarily know League of Legends but who started to be interested in it, explains Nicolas Besombes, sociologist and vice-president of the France Esports association. KCorp has even achieved the feat, in its first year, of winning twice the European competition, the European Master, equivalent of the Champions League in football. A spotlight on the French e-sport scene.

→ REPORT. Esports in search of recognition in Japan

The year 2021 also marks the arrival of a new player in the French esports ecosystem: One Trick Production (OTP). A production company founded by two commentators well known to the French-speaking public: Fabien “Chips” Culié and Charles “Noi” Lapassat. “Over the past decade, a lot of people have watched League of Legends esports competitions in France. But people watched for a while and then moved on ”, launches Chips. Unmissable actors of the French scene of LoL, they launched OTP accompanied by other recognized figures and won the broadcasting rights for the LFL. The success is immediate. “I would say that the launch of OTP has re-mobilized an audience that had stopped watching the competitions”, he continues.

A French Cup of “LoL”

The Covid-19 pandemic has also been there. During the various confinements, while sports competitions are more or less at a standstill, the Twitch streaming platform records its highest audience ratings. “Many people have discovered League of Legends, or even other video games at that time, says Bertrand Amar, e-sport director of Webedia, and even after the lockdowns, people kept watching as audiences continued to mount. “

The LFL also finds its account there, because until now the matches were played, commented and watched online, except for the tournaments at the end of the season. An advantage over other sports, which were forced first to stop competing and then to set up gauges. “But this year we have decided to organize several physical events so that the fans and the teams can meet at regular intervals”, details Bertrand Amar. As a producer of the LFL, Webedia seeks to offer events to continue to appeal to new audiences. Latest announcement, the launch of a Coupe de France de League of Legends which will bring together teams from the LFL, Division 2 and the amateur circuit.


The “League of Legend” phenomenon in figures

League of Legend is an online multiplayer game released in 2009. It brought together 180 million active players in October 2021, according to its American publisher Riot Games.

The French league of LoL, theLFL, exists since 2019 and has ten teams. During matches, two teams of five players compete in order to destroy the opposing base. Each game lasts between twenty-five and forty minutes.

An LFL season is divided into two segments, one taking place in the spring and another in the summer, between which the European competition is inserted. At the end of both segments, the top three averaged teams compete in a tournament to determine the season winner.



Esports in search of recognition in Japan

Contrary to what one would tend to think, e-sport – the practice of video games in competition – is struggling to take off in Japan. The discipline does not know the same enthusiasm as in South Korea, the United States or China.

According to an estimate from NewZoo, a Dutch company specializing in analyzes of the video game sector, e-sport represents a market of 900 million euros worldwide in 2021, up 230% compared to 2016. Players famous people win bonuses of several million euros, for example in a competition like The International, a tournament played on the strategy game DOTA 2. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to make e-disciplines medal. sport for the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

But Japan, despite being the source of many video games, is ” very late “, regrets Hirokazu Hamamura, vice-president of the Japan Electronic Sports Union, founded in 2018. “Despite strong growth in recent years, the country’s market is only 50 million euros. “

Japan is lagging behind

According to him, the discipline is above all a victim of the success of video games, very popular, which are played on consoles (Playstation and Nintendo in the lead), unlike e-sport which is played on a computer. “It’s a shame, because everyone can take part in an esports match on an equal footing, regardless of age, sex, body type”, he explains.

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Chikara Kawakami, former professional esports player known by his pseudonym Shaka, also laments the delay Japan has taken in the field. “I have always dreamed of becoming a professional, but it is only in recent years that we have teams capable of guaranteeing economic stability to their players., he emphasizes.

A “promising area”

Can Japan catch up? The country’s market is expected to grow by 214% by 2024, predicts a study by the Kadokawa Ascii Research Laboratories. The discipline now enjoys the support of the Ministry of the Economy, which sees it as a “Promising area”.

→ READ. This “e-sport” which disturbs the sporting world

In the process, around fifteen teams with significant financial resources were created, allowing young people to dream of a professional career. “For the popularity of esports to explode in Japan, only one player of international level remains”, put Hirokazu Hamamura.