Riot Games are the developers behind one of the world’s most successful games, League of Legends. Operating 14 global esports leagues, it has been largely responsible for esports emerging into the mainstream.
Our relationship with Riot Games began with LEC (League of Legends European Championship) and over a period of four years has led to work with three other Leagues – LCK (League of Legends Korea), LPL (League of Legends China), and LLA (League of Legends Latin America).
The Leagues had accumulated huge communities without really understanding what they were about. In the nascent esports world, they defaulted to the tropes of traditional sports broadcasting – anchors, suits, desks. At times they leant on the game for inspiration which made them all feel and look the same. For each League, our goal was to dismantle these clichés and create unique brands that reflect their communities.
Understanding each community
Our approach with LEC has shaped our work across all four Leagues. In each case, we had to understand the community first. Deep immersion and local understanding helped us uncover the truths of each grassroots community – the humour of the fans, entertaining shoutcasters, pro players, drama filled gameplay – as well as the wider gaming cultures in each region.
Defining a new spirit
Finding the spirit of each League helped us create a unique proposition that reflects the attitude of the people who are part of it, rather than it’s organisers. Putting the fans front and centre gives each brand an attitude and immediacy inspired by the community and personalities at its heart.
Each strategic proposition reflects community truths and addresses cultural nuances. The LCK (Riot’s Korean League), for example, had a legacy of high performance and a fear of second place. We honoured their legacy, but redefined how they see success — ‘making legends’ no matter if they win or lose. In China, the LPL felt compelled to promote internationalism over anything local, so we helped the League embrace its culture and play-style in a way that feels proud and truly their own.
The new graphic languages developed represent the energy and attitudes of each League. A DIY spirit for LLA puts the League back into the hands of the fans, while the LCK utilises clean graphic elements and an evolved logo to build on heritage while cutting through the noise.
Designing for new channels
With everything from films, stage design, immersive events and trophy design as part of the brief, motion, sound design and multi-sensory experiences played a big role in how and where these brands live. In every case, flexible visual design systems help bridge the gap between stadium and screen.
Changing the game
The new brands have helped establish what each League stands for, celebrate their communities and grow their businesses. With so much conviction behind it, LEC has moved beyond a brand to become a cultural icon and, with our help, continues to be an entertainment experience parallel to world class events.
The rebrand of the Liga Latinoamerica was not only an exceptional example of DesignStudio’s strategic and creative prowess but a testimony of their ability to stretch beyond their comfort zone. The esports world is not easy to understand for outsiders, and even more when mixed with Latin American culture, but DesignStudio tackled this challenge with unparalleled passion and method. As a result, together we came up with a unique and bold brand, one that truly embodies the competitive experience Riot plans to deliver to the fans for years to come.Andrés CerroGlobal Brand Manager, Riot Games
Results and Impact
LEC overall viewership hit 1.5 million unique views, equating to 50% year on year growth. While concurrent viewership reached around 300,000 views, equating to 40% year on year growth.
(2019 vs 2018. Source: Riot)
It’s hard to put into words how awesome it was to work with DesignStudio on this project - this brand is the result of what a meaningful collaboration looks like, and consequently helped us shape the future of our sport.Joe PecchiaSenior Brand Manager, Riot Games
Meanwhile, in China and Latin America, communities have rallied behind this new level of professionalism, and in Korea, shifting the brand’s perception of success empowered the team to win Worlds, and retain fans regardless of victory or defeat.