In a new report, The Esports Observer detailed how the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) has been forced to adapt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several new commercial partners were brought on for the LEC’s 2020 season, including Kit Kat and Warner Music. Moreover, the league was planning to host a live event in the Hungarian market for the first time. Unfortunately, the future of the Budapest event is for now uncertain. It has not yet been canceled, but it’s unclear as to whether the league’s Summer Split finals will proceed as planned in Malmö, Sweden.
The league has been able to adapt quickly to the challenging new market conditions. Within six days in March, they successfully transitioned the ongoing Spring Split to an entirely online experience. While matches were “initially plagued with production errors,” the LEC resolved most of the problems within a few weeks.
In an interview with The Esports Observer, Alberto Guerrero, director of esports EMEA for Riot Games, said he doesn’t think the league will experience long-term impacts from the pandemic.
“I don’t foresee any long-term impact of the cancellation,” Guerrero said. “Not only are the conversations with other cities for 2021 events very advanced, but we’ve even started talks about 2022 finals.”
On a positive note, the LEC has seen a substantial increase in viewership compared to last year. In spite of moving online, the Spring Split finals had 807.3K peak concurrent viewers, an increase of 76 percent compared to last year’s peak. The LEC’s playoffs experienced an increase in viewership of roughly 14 percent year-over-year, averaging 279.3K viewers per minute.
Moreover, Guerrero said the LEC has seen growing interest from potential partners despite the rapidly changing environment.
“Despite the overall challenging circumstances, we’ve seen growing interest from new brands that are looking to connect with League of Legends fans during the time where we’re one of the few sports that can continue right now.”
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