Who doesn't dream of making it big? Sure, most of us Summoners can't possibly challenge the pros to a game, but that doesn't mean the amateur pool doesn't have its share of hidden talent. Well, Riot wants to give us that chance with a new League of Legends Challengers league, set to begin in 2014 in Europe and North America.
The Challenger-tier league doesn't have an official name yet, but Riot plans to run it alongside next year's LCS (League of Legends Championship Series), and will provide a means for Challenger players to get into the Championship Series. Assuming you're good enough to go pro.
With the new amateur league, Riot would basically be bringing eSports to the non-pros. Dustin Beck, head of eSports at Riot Games, explained their reasoning:
"Every sport has a pretty aspirational path for how you go from just a little kid playing a sport to a professional athlete. And when we were creating the LCS, we knew that we were satisfying that top level of elite gamers who could actually be professionals. But we had a pretty big hole in the middle that didn't do anything to highlight what that path was going to be."
So Riot went to Coke Zero, who was already looking to get into the eSports business anyway. The company signed on with the League of Legends studio, perhaps recognizing that here is the most popular game in the world right now.
Matt Wolf, head of global gaming for Coca-Cola, spoke for the food company:
"It's just such an incredible story of the pursuit of possibility, in terms of amateurs in a challenger system being able to get on an organized road to the pros head of global gaming for Coca-Cola, during the same interview.
"For us, it's not just about being there, and [having] our branding there," Wolf continued. "We want to get actively involved; we want to work closely with Riot. We want to bring value to the actual experience of preparing to become pro — providing tools and a structure with Riot for these players, to give them that shot."
Not a lot of details regarding the new league are available right now, but Riot refers to it as the "primary feeder league into the LCS." Beck also noted that Challengers will have fans of their own, with the greater visibility provided by the upcoming league.
As of right now, Riot plans for the amateur league to be "more of an online activity, but there's certainly going to be live elements to it." Beck describes the league as an "LCS-lite," and Riot definitely has high hopes for its success.
"We want to make sure that these players' stories are heard," Beck said. "This is a good way to get fans and pros alike enamored with this new scene that's popping up."
League of Legends Season 3 concludes this week with the finals happening tomorrow in Los Angeles. Top Chinese team Royal Club will be facing off against Korean up-and-comers SKT Telecom. If you're not pumped yet, check out the animated trailer Riot put out earlier today.
Thanks for the tip, Rune Ripper.