The year-end “League of Legends” champion might be decided on Saturday, marking the fruits of this 12 months’s League World Championship and its central theme, “One and Solely.”
However Riot Video games’ “Worlds” theme is a rigorously curated expression of Riot’s core model, formed over the course of months utilizing suggestions from model purchasers and different stakeholders. In different phrases, it’s a window into how the gaming big is posturing itself to advertisers.
What’s a World Championship theme?
The “League of Legends” World Championship, fondly known as “Worlds” by League followers, is likely one of the largest annual esports occasions. Concurrent viewership of final 12 months’s World Championship closing peaked at almost 74 million, a 60.33 p.c enhance over viewership in 2020, in response to Riot’s internal figures. Merely put, it’s Riot Video games’ greatest alternative to showcase its model to followers and potential companions yearly.
Riot Video games started working with Tendril, the artistic company that helped it develop a visible id for the theme, in August 2021, when Riot kicked off the Worlds 2022 theme undertaking, however the corporations had been searching for a chance to work collectively for “a number of years,” in response to Tendril artistic director Patrick Coffey.
For every iteration of Worlds, Riot devises a one-line phrase that acts as a “theme” to tie collectively the occasion’s programming and visible id. This theme informs the way in which companies equivalent to Tendril develop visible belongings for the world championship and offers advertisers equivalent to Mercedes Benz one thing to work with once they develop their very own activations round Worlds.
In 2020, the Worlds theme was “Take Over,” and in 2021 it was “Make/Break.” Each occasions smashed viewership information, with 49.5 million concurrent viewers watching the Worlds closing in 2020 and 73.86 million in 2021. A big quantity of the social conversations round each occasions centered round their themes, with on-line searches for each phrases spiking through the lead-up to previous World Championships, in response to Google Traits.
“It’s one thing that we’ve deliberately made right into a twin message. Clearly, we’ve got this sturdy highlight on Worlds and what it means as this singular occasion inside tradition,” mentioned Carrie Dunn, world head of artistic for Riot Esports. “However we’ve got over 100 completely different groups, we’ve got 12 completely different areas, we’ve got a whole bunch of execs — we form of liked the inherent juxtaposition of the reality that whereas there may be one ‘League of Legends’ esports fandom, it’s made up of so many various components.”
A months-long course of
The method of creating this 12 months’s Worlds theme started earlier than final 12 months’s iteration of Worlds even began. Dunn and her artistic crew began by brainstorming with representatives of Riot’s occasions, broadcasting and model growth groups, then word-vomiting 20 pages of potential themes onto a Microsoft Phrase doc.
“Clearly, there was this theme bucket of the singular standing of worlds,” Dunn mentioned. “That form of led to ‘One and Solely,’ in addition to one million different iterations of the road.”
It took almost two months for Riot to decide on its Worlds theme of “One and Solely” earlier than bringing it to stakeholders equivalent to model companions and the esports organizations concerned within the occasion. However whereas Riot gave its companions ample alternative to offer suggestions on the theme, most of them trusted the sport developer to strategy the occasion and its branding in the correct method with out important pushback, in response to Dunn.
“With all of our companions, the explanation they associate with us is as a result of they need to actually authentically combine into the ecosystem,” she mentioned. “So it’s much less of a consideration of what works for them, and extra of us ensuring that the authenticity is there, in order that anyone can construct on the muse.”
Growing a visible id
Along with informing outstanding points of the Worlds broadcast such because the involvement of Lil Nas X and his “Worlds anthem,” “Star Walkin’,” Riot’s “One and Solely” theme was additionally a key supply of inspiration for the visible belongings the corporate displayed all through each its on-line broadcast of the occasion and in-person arenas equivalent to New York’s Hulu Theater in Madison Sq. Backyard.
“Within the enviornment, it’s as much as the occasion groups to form of determine the best way to use them, however plenty of the issues we offered for the dwell broadcasts could be so simple as a looping background animation, or issues like title playing cards,” mentioned Adam Brandon, a artistic director at Tendril who labored on the undertaking.
Riot’s Worlds visuals this 12 months centered round a colourful flag that mixed the colours and logos of the 24 skilled esports organizations taking part within the occasion, highlighting the unity side of the “One and Solely” branding.
Tendril designers created the flag utilizing the three-dimensional modeling instrument Houdini after Riot offered the company with a complete and up-to-date Airtable database containing the colours and logos of each skilled “League of Legends” crew.
Because the designers didn’t know which groups would qualify for Worlds whereas creating the flag, Tendril had to supply Riot with a modular toolkit that allowed them to swap out one crew’s emblem and colours for one more.
“Every crew has so many alternative, distinctive colours,” mentioned Tendril government producer Ramona Gornik-Lee. “So looking for a strategy to work with them and make it nonetheless visually interesting, that was one of many challenges as properly.”
Why does this matter?
The depth of the analysis and growth surrounding the Worlds theme and associated visible branding reveals how important occasions just like the annual World Championship are for Riot’s objective to make use of its fervent esports fandom as a springboard into broader relevance throughout the worlds of tradition and leisure. As Riot expands from “League of Legends” into different sport genres and dips its toes into unique streaming content material, it’s not skimping on the branding and visuals supporting its core esports product.
“One factor I might say about Riot is that they’ve been a little bit of a trailblazer, on the design aspect, of the larger-scale gaming corporations,” Coffey mentioned.