League of Its Own: The Video Game That Shaped a Generation

A decade on from its release, ‘League of Legends’ has become a cultural touchstone for many Chinese millennials.

The first world title win of Chinese esports team Royal Never Give Up was a moment Liu Yinfeng will never forget. Watching the closing moments of the final from his dorm room at the Beijing Institute of Technology in May of last year, the 20-year-old and his peers roared with the intensity of spectators at a live basketball or soccer match.

“Literally everyone in the whole building was screaming,” says Liu. “Feelings we’d held in for so long just burst out.”

The competitors in the match were playing “League of Legends” (“LoL”), a free-to-play online video game which sees teams of fantasy heroes battling to destroy each other’s bases. Developed by Riot Games, a U.S.-based gaming company now owned by the Chinese tech giant Tencent, “LoL” celebrated its 10-year anniversary last Sunday.

“LoL” has been a huge success globally over the past decade, forming an international subculture between fans. But in China, the game is in another league altogether for its popularity and influence on mainstream culture.

“‘League of Legends’ could be described as the overlord of PC games in China,” Jin Yibo, co-CEO of Tencent Esports, tells Sixth Tone. “Our (esports) competitions are watched just like the World Cup.”

“LoL” — colloquially referred to as lu-a-lu in Chinese — has been China’s most popular PC title nearly every year since its official 2011 launch in the country, with an estimated 111 million Chinese playing the game in 2017. The game’s player base is so massive, the game is supported by 29 China-based servers, compared with just one in North America. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.