League of Legends and other top esports are not immune to recession, says Riot Games Tech News

The boss of one of the world’s biggest esports tournaments has warned that major esports events will not be immune to the effects of a global recession.

At the League of Legends World Finals in San Francisco, Johnny Damm told Sky News he was concerned that advertisers could start pulling out of sponsorships for such events.

Riot Games’ global esports president said: “Because our revenue usually comes mainly from sponsors, you may encounter some weaknesses.”

He added: “We’re doing really well because we’ve reached the scale of millennials and Gen Z audiences that few platforms can reach. But I’m a little concerned that our sponsors are weak.”

Nov 5, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; Graphics card showing DRX top single Hwang "king" Seong-hoon kills T1 mid laner Lee "fraud" Sang-hyeok against T1 at Chase Center at the League of Legends World Championship.Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox - USA TODAY Sports
Gameplay displayed on a large screen in the venue

League of Legends is one of the most successful PC games on the planet, and events like the 2022 World Championships make up a significant portion of Riot Games’ revenue.

This year, Riot Games has attracted sponsorship deals from brands like Tiffany, Mastercard and Mercedes, all keen to reach younger audiences.

Since almost all esports is played on elite-level PCs, the ratings are very high. Worlds 2022 set a new League of Legends esports record with 5.1 million concurrent viewers.

Can the UK become an esports giant?

But what about the UK market? After proving itself to be a world-class sporting event worthy of hosting, will it one day welcome the best pros as well?

In a 2020 report, the government described esports as “an area with the potential to develop into a true national strength for the UK, building on our world-class video games, entertainment and sports sectors”.

Nov 5, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; A DRX fan breaks down in tears after DRX beat T1 to win the League of Legends World Championship at Chase Center.Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox - USA TODAY Sports
World Series 2022 draws huge crowds and online audiences

Mr Needham, who used to live in the UK, said: “The UK is not the strongest market for us because it’s a very console-dominated market.

“Generally, your apartment, your house, you don’t have enough space for a dedicated office PC.

“A lot of games take place in the living room.”

Ofcom figures from last year showed that 30% of Britons play games on consoles, compared with just 12% on dedicated gaming desktops.

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Riot Games hopes its recently released shooter Valorant will change that.

“It’s the fastest growing sport right now,” Mr Needham said. “It’s a mature game for England.

“it is [tactical] shooter. This is the most popular type of game in the UK. “

If an event like the 2022 Worlds comes to the UK, working with local authorities will be key.

“We went to Shanghai a few years ago, and we turned Shanghai into the Worlds,” he recalls.

“We’re designing skyscrapers and everything. And the government is really leaning on there to help us promote the campaign.”

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