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.

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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.



The popularity of Formula 1 driven by a thrilling end of the season

An urban circuit, 27 cascading bends, mostly fast, a dusty track, thrills for a nighttime spectacle. It is the framework of the duel with the knife which will oppose Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, this Sunday, December 5 at the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia, a first on the calendar of Formula 1.

The race can be decisive for the attribution of the title of world champion. Max Verstappen is on the right track, with an 8 point lead in the general classification. It can be sacred on Sunday. But his pursuer Lewis Hamilton is coming back very strong with his last two victories in Brazil and Qatar. If he wins just ahead of his Dutch rival, the two men will attack the last race, on December 12 in Abu Dhabi, tied on points. For a dantesque final.

Strong growth in audiences

This ideal scenario, the discipline dared not hope. The last suspenseful Grand Prix between two drivers from competing teams date back to 2012, and the fight between Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari). But fans go back even further, referring instead to the fight between Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (Renault) in 2006.

“There was a generation opposition – 12 years separating the two men – which we find today with the same age difference between Hamilton and Verstappen, underlines the specialist and consultant Marc Limacher. Hamilton is looking to break Schumacher’s record with an eighth world title, and 24-year-old Verstappen is the youngster on the rise. “

Rivalry maintains the new flame of the public of Formula 1. Because after years of boredom and disinterest, the great automobile circus is experiencing a resurgence.

Broadcaster in France, Canal + is rubbing its hands: its audiences have jumped 42% in two years, reaching an average of 1.13 million viewers per race. The phenomenon is similar in many European countries and in the United States (+ 62% audience for retransmissions).

F1 President Stefano Domenicali recently praised the success of his F1 TV broadcast platform: “The number of unique users on our site and our app has increased this year by 56% compared to 2020.”

The “Millennials” seduced

A recent study carried out by the Nielsen group from an online questionnaire answered by more than 167,000 fans from 187 countries also reveals a rejuvenation (34% under 24) and feminization (18.3%) public. Out of a smaller panel in 2017, young people represented only 26% and women 10%.

“On the one hand, there has been a real Netflix phenomenon, with the broadcast since 2019 on the platform of the documentary series Drive to Survive which tells about the past season, explains Marc Limacher. Many young people have discovered F1 and suddenly now follow the Grand Prix. F1 has also taken to social networks. The teams, the champions, but also the organizers, since the takeover of F1 by the Liberty Media group in 2017, have started to produce content. And it works. Millennials subscribe, comment, and in turn ensure a presence of F1 on TikTok, Instagram, etc. “

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Stefano Domenicali has also just mentioned a reflection of F1 to push this advantage, by broadcasting Grand Prix on YouTube (an experience tried in 2020 for the German Grand Prix), and content on Twitch (at the image of the sprint race of the last Brazilian Grand Prix).

Nostalgia, sensitive cord

The casting is also particularly careful to satisfy the public. The return this year of Fernando Alonso has delighted Spain. The explosion of the young Briton Lando Norris, 22, excites young people, as the arrival of Mick Schumacher, 22 years old and son of, who rekindles the interest of Germany.

The confirmed arrival on November 16 of Chinese Guanyu Zhou (still 22) as second driver in 2022 at Alfa Romeo promises a certain effervescence in the Middle Kingdom, a crucial market for the development of F1.

When it is not on men, it is on machines that the promoters of the discipline are betting. Next season, changes in the aerodynamics of racing cars should limit the disturbances caused by the cars on the grip of their pursuers, and therefore facilitate overtaking, for ever more spectacle. All observers are hoping for a return to form for Ferrari and a rise in strength of Alpine to join in the Red Bull-Mercedes duel.

Paradoxically, the improvement of F1 comes when its universe is hardly in phase with the current eco-responsible atmosphere. F1 promises to adapt from 2026 with engines and zero carbon fuel, but dodges while waiting for the question, also summoning a certain nostalgia quite fashionable in the sports world, from cycling to football through the rugby.

“Like other disciplines, F1 benefits from a long history, and likes to recall its glorious hours, from the Fangio of the 1950s to the Prost-Senna duel of the late 1980s, concludes Marc Limacher. Young people also discover this aspect with curiosity, and the less young appreciate the madeleine. F1 also knows how to play on this rope. “



In Japan, the popularity of swimming in a hot spring

At the end of July, the muggy heat invades the streets in Okutama, a village located in the mountainous area west of Tokyo. The temperature is close to 33 degrees. To the songs of the first cicadas of summer, dozens of people, most of them wearing hiking boots, wait to bathe in an onsen, the public baths supplied by a hot spring.

27,000 onsen across the country

“I never go for a hike without going for a bath, the idea is to rest and wash myself before taking the return train”, says Hiroto Tanaka, a Tokyo hiker. Renowned for peaks exceeding 1,000 meters, Okutama, an hour and a half by train from downtown Tokyo, attracts many nature walkers. Like Hiroto Tanaka, many of them come to bask in this onsen, called Moegi No Yu (“the source of the young leaves of spring”, in Japanese).

Ancestral practice whose origin dates back at least to the 7th centurye century, bathing in hot springs, a typical culture of a country with 111 active volcanoes, remains very popular in all age groups. “Onsens are often located in remote mountainous places where there are beautiful landscapes. For the Japanese, this is therefore part of the journey. And as there are 27,000 across the country, we never get tired of it ”, explains the specialist Isamu Gunji, author of numerous books on the subject.

Therapeutic effects

“Depending on the minerals contained in the water, its color changes, ranging from milky blue to black. In some places, you can bathe directly in the spring, in a completely wild place, it’s sublime ”, enthuses the expert.

These waters also offer therapeutic effects, exploited by the Japanese since time immemorial. Takeda Shingen, leader of a large samurai clan of the XVIe century, regularly sent its wounded soldiers to onsens to recover faster.

“The sodium, iron or sulfur contained in water improve blood circulation and the functioning of the immune system”, emphasizes Shinji Maeda, doctor and professor at the International University of Health and Welfare. They also act against rheumatism, back pain and osteoarthritis. The popularity of onsens is not about to wane, in an aging country where seniors over 65 represent 28% of the population.



In Japan, the timeless popularity of archery

Jessica Gerrity glances at the target 28 yards away. Her face tightens as she bends her bow, her muscles tighten, but her whole body, white shirt and wide navy pants look still. The tensions disappear as soon as the arrow leaves… which finally misses the target. “Too bad, it was so close”, exclaim his comrades, also amateurs of traditional Japanese archery, called kyudo (“Way of the arc”).

New Zealander living in Japan since 2003, Jessica Gerrity is vice-president of the association Yumi to zen (which means “the arc and zen”), founded in 2019 to promote this martial art, whose origins go back almost 2,000 years old. Every Saturday, his association provides, in a gymnasium north of Tokyo, courses for all levels, in Japanese and English. In total, no less than 1,100 people participated. “Some days, half of the practitioners are foreigners”, notes Jessica Gerrity.

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Often taught in high school, kyudo is a popular sport, but many followers face a lack of clubs to practice regularly. “There is little information online, and beginner courses are too rare”, explains Hirokazu Kiuchi, the president of the association.

A form of meditation

The kyudo differs from Western archery by the size of the weapon first – larger in the Japanese version. Above all, kyudo is a highly codified body language exercise, which is used by practitioners to seek a form of balance between body and mind. “It’s about learning to master each of your gestures, your posture, your step. Everything must be performed with the greatest concentration, in search of the perfect movement. It’s a psychological game ”, continues Hirokazu Kiuchi, for whom there are many points in common between kyudo and meditation.

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Jessica Gerrity, she relishes this moment when, at the end of the session, she is “In a more serene and calm state of mind. It helps me to be less hard on my little ones ”, jokes this mother of three children.