Nowadays, League of Legends is synonymous with the MOBA genre and has helped shape the esports industry as we know it. LoL has more than 152 million active players and is one of the most-streamed games on Twitch. However, this modern classic from Riot Games has a pretty storied history. While the game launched in 2009, its origins can be traced back much earlier. Wondering how your favorite MOBA came into existence? Read on for the full story.
The Early Years
MOBA games as we know them today didn’t really exist before the turn of the century. Even in the early 2000s, the closest we had were real-time strategy titles like the Warcraft franchise. While these titles were largely removed from the MOBA genre, they did help set the framework for the games that would follow. It was the Warcraft III engine that paved the way for the Defense of the Ancients (DotA). While the first DotA game was essentially a Warcraft mod, it became incredibly popular, revealing an insatiable appetite for the MOBA genre. However, this mod had its limitations. The Warcraft III engine could only be pushed so far.
Steve Mescon and Steve Feak, two of the most active mod developers behind DotA, realized that they needed to go further. In 2005, the pair secured a meeting with Riot Games and discussed plans for developing a new MOBA game. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that Riot would actually announce League of Legends. By April of the following year, the game was made available for beta testing. It proved an instant hit with players, quickly stealing DotA’s MOBA crown.
In October 2009, League of Legends was finally ready for general release. While the beta version of the game only had 17 champions to choose from, the full game boasted a roster of 40 characters. Fans and critics alike fell in love with the eclectic assortment of champions, with the line-up praised for its balance and range of abilities.
The fact that LoL was free to download and play also set it apart from its competitors. Despite glowing reviews and continued engagement, Riot Games has never introduced a premium pricing model. Today, the LoL has been downloaded more than 100 million times.
While other MOBAs have fallen by the wayside, League of Legends has remained a juggernaut. Its continued availability as a free-to-play game is one of the biggest factors behind its success, but that’s not to say that Riot Games hasn’t monetized LoL. As with other titles like DotA2 and Fortnite, microtransactions are a staple here. However, players can unlock cosmetic upgrades, rather than performance-enhancing ones, ensuring a level playing field for everyone.
League of Legends and the Esports Industry
Today, League of Legends dominates the esports sector. While people have been playing video games competitively for decades, it’s only fairly recently that esports tournaments have become popular. In many respects, League of Legends led the way. In 2011, DreamHack was the venue for the first-ever League of Legends World Championship. The tournament continues to this day, with the 2022 final bringing in more than 5.1 million viewers. Want to see how the 2023 grand final matches up? Check out the full coverage at https://www.1337pro.com/en/lol/tournament-schedule.
What’s Next for League of Legends?
While newer MOBA games have entered the fray over the years, nothing has come close to stealing League of Legends’ thunder. While some players have called for a sequel, Riot has remained on the ball when it comes to patch updates and introducing new champions, meaning the game has never felt stale. Nonetheless, there have been spin-offs and expanded media aplenty. From comic books to card games, animated series to documentary specials, there’s plenty of content out there for League fans to sink their teeth into.