Riot to host NA and EU LCS Summer Finals in New York City and Stockholm

by Rod Breslau Jun 1 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of N/A / LoL Esports

Riot Games have announced the initial details for the 2015 North American and European LCS Summer Finals, set to take place at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City and the Hovet Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. Both events will run on the weekend of August 22 and 23.

The best teams from the North American and European regions will square off in each location to determine who will qualify for the 2015 World Championships. Other activities on-site will include events around cosplayers and other League of Legends-related attractions.

League of Legends' debut at Madison Square Garden, home of New York Knicks and Rangers, and the city's largest musical performances, will be the first ever eSports event to take place inside the main hall of the "world's most famous arena". Last October the Electronic Sports League held their ESL One Dota 2 Championships event inside of MSG's smaller theater venue as the first competitive gaming event to take place in the building.

Riot has teamed up with Tribeca Games, the team behind the TriBeCa Film Festival, to put on the event at MSG. In April the Tribeca Film Festival premiered a work-in-progress cut of Patrick Creadon's All Work All Play, a new documentary featuring Cloud 9's League of Legends team and ESL's Michal "Carmac" Blicharz on the rise of competitive gaming and the path to win a world championship in eSports.

"This location has been a long time in the making", Riot VP of eSports Dustin Beck told theScore eSports. "We knew we wanted to host a live event that fans from the East Coast would be able to easily reach - it's something we've been trying to do for some time. We look at lots of different factors when we choose a venue, including technical setup, availability and whether or not it offers a good experience for live eSports fans, whose needs can be very different to a rock show or traditional sporting event. We're thrilled to be able to make our visit to New York all the more special by partnering with such a legendary venue.

"Holding an event inside of Madison Square Garden, which has been so synonymous with epic sports clashes and rock shows for decades, is crazy exciting and really humbling. As sports fans, we're aware of the fact that this is a significant step for eSports. We can't wait to take our Summer Finals to an arena that has been host to so many memorable events, and - just like the Staples Center in LA - we know that LoL fans will make it a weekend to remember."

Tribeca Games is a new initiative by the Tribeca Film Festival that officially launches with the North American Finals, a spokesperson from Tribeca Enterprises told theScore eSports.

Riot hopes to please east coast League of Legends fans who have been clamoring for a major event to happen in the area. Holding stadium-sized events isn't new for the company, which held the 2013 World Championships at the Los Angeles Staples Center, and last year's finals at Sangam Stadium in Seoul, Korea. Both events were a success with the former selling out within minutes and gaining the attention of mainstream media's HBO's Real Sports, while the latter is now the single largest attended eSports event in history.

"We view each event as a brand new chance to reach fans within that area and to try out new and exciting ways to present live eSports", Beck said. "Staples meant a lot to us and to me personally growing up in LA as a sports fan, and it was also incredible to bring Worlds to so many fans in Sangam in 2014. This event at MSG gives us a chance to bring one of our live esports to an east coast audience for the first time, and to be able to do in a venue like this, is really a dream come true.

"When we host events at famous sports stadiums and arenas like MSG, Staples or Sangam, we show the world that eSports fans are no different than fans of any other sport, and that’s what matters."

For fans watching at home that weekend, things may not be so easy trying to juggle between two championship events on the same weekend. There's potential for fan fatigue in having to watch consecutive events. Riot says that while the events will be on the same weekend, they will not overlap on the broadcast schedule.

"We think it's fun for fans to be able to plan their weekends around these championship matches, it's the culmination of a season's long journey to be the best and hopefully qualify for Worlds", said Beck. "We know it is a lot of content to absorb, and while we anticipate many fans will enjoy the marathon of both regions, others will stick to the games within their time zones. This is the first year we have tested out back to back events on the road, so we are looking forward to seeing how our fans respond and gathering feedback on ways for us to improve."