Hansen: 'Legends' has captured millions

February 04, 2014|By David Hansen | By David Hansen

Last fall, UC Irvine held its annual Anteater Involvement Fair, when campus groups put up a booth in the quad to recruit new members.

The most popular booth? Not the Greeks or the football boosters or the chess team.

It was the League of Legends club.

The fantasy-driven battle game is now the largest, most played online game in the world. Its reach is simply massive.

"It all happened so fast," said club organizer Diana Chang. "We were not even done setting up our base when people started coming in and asking about membership."


They ran out of 250 membership forms in just over an hour and eventually signed up more than 700 people, far surpassing any other group.

Using battle terms, Chang blogged about the activity on the group's website.

"We were able to defend and hold up while we waited for the rest of our equipment to spawn, but I don't think we were mentally prepared for the super minions," she said.

The onslaught at UCI is not surprising, given the game's global popularity.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Santa Monica game maker Riot Games now counts about 27 million gamers playing League of Legends every day, more than double the 12 million from October 2012.

Forbes magazine called these types of numbers "absolutely astonishing."

One reason for the jump in participation is the regional events held throughout the year. You may have heard that the League of Legends world championship took place late last year in a sold-out Staples Center with the winning team taking away $1 million.

Now, there are ongoing weekend championship series tournaments that sell out to boys and girls (mostly boys) in the 15-to-21 age range.

What did I do on Super Bowl Sunday? Watch my adopted Seattle Seahawks stomp on the Denver Broncos?

Not quite.

I drove my teenage boys and their friends to Manhattan Beach so they could go to a League of Legends event.

During the entire one-hour ride I listened to another language. Literally, I had no idea what they were saying.

With teams like TSM and Fnatic, and champions called Malphite and Kayle, it's like hearing and watching a blend of "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" — on adolescent turbo.

In fact, there is a "hobbitian" look to these boys in general. I mean, let's face it, we're not talking water polo captains here. Which is all good. There are many types of athletes.

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