Should Riot have been more ambitious selecting venues?
Riot was in charge of the process of selecting the venues for Worlds and I am sure they selected a group of people that their sole objective was to organize the S6 World Championships. That being said, one of the most important aspects was to select the locations that the matches would take place in. This team from Riot had access to a lot more information that I do, therefore, will be omitting information because quite frankly, I do not have access to it. Nonetheless, I will offer a critique as an outsider as whether or not Riot chose the best locations that were available. Riot probably looked at dozens of locations and venues, and the venues they chose had a lot of thinking and logical reasoning that I am ignorant of, our job is to evaluate why Riot chose the venues it did, and whether they could have done a better job at it.
Even though Riot has no doubt chosen good venues for Worlds, it leaves a feeling of disappointment that the venues exclude an extensive part of the NA population. The southestern, the central portion of the US, and Canada were all left out without the chance of attending our favorite event of the year. Once again Riot probably took this into account, and for one reason or another decided that those were not ideal locations. However, one still wishes that the world championships would have hit areas that have never had access to competitive League.
I was highly disappointment to find out that the venues are small, and that two of the venues have already been used before. The finals will be a the Staple Center and the semifinals will be at Madison Square Garden. The disappointment comes from the fact that it seems that Riot is unwilling to try new venues and new places for this World Championships, there is an added mystery and excitement to having the Worlds championships at a new place. In the case of selecting the venues it is useful to draw insight from traditional sports. When the FIFA soccer World Cup was held in South Korea and South Africa, those were much more exciting venues than Germany and Brazil because they had already held a World Cup, even though it was more than 30 years ago.
S3 Finals were in the Staple Center and S5 Na LCS spring finals were in Madison Square Garden, these venues have recently been used for competitive League, and it seems that S6 Worlds should have been in different locations. There are hundreds of great venues in the U.S that are of equal or better quality for such event. The only time that I think a venue is exciting when it holds an event of this magnitude more than once is when it is an anniversary. The Olympics originated in Olympia, Therefore commemorating Greece with the 100th anniversary of the Olympic games could be exciting for spectators. The Soccer World Cup was first played in Uruguay in 1930, there has been talks about having the final in the same stadium in 2030 to commemorate such occasion. Even though Uruguay is not developed enough to organize a FIFA world Cup, it would be great if the final was played in the same stadium it was played a 100 years ago.
League of Legends is a young game, it probably will not last 100 years, but it is still a young game. I do not think there is any added excitement to having the finals played in the same stadium that it was played 3 years ago. That being said, there is added excitement to having the Finals venue located in a city that has not had access to League like Austin or Boston. Therefore, it was disappointing to find out that Riot did not get out of its comfort zone and chose venues that have recently been used.
I particularly love big stadiums. When I was a kid, managing a big stadium, or perhaps owning one was my dream. Riot has stated that they like smaller and closed venues because the atmosphere of the venue can be better transferred to the online stream. After S4 worlds finals were held in a stadium with a capacity for forty thousand people in South Korea, Riot realized that even though the atmosphere was good, it was hard to transfer that energy to the stream. Therefore, ever since then, Riot have chosen smaller and closed venues. I completely understand and agree with their observations, however, my criticism would be that a big venue that is closed, could transfer the energy just as well as a smaller one. I can be biased here, but it seems one of the factors that influenced S4 worlds being so low in energy was the crowd. We have learned that Westerners are much louder when it comes to fanaticism for traditional sports and Esports than their Korean counterparts. There are too may great options in America that would make for a great live and online experience. Even though the Cowboys stadium is a little ambitious, I am sure League could fill that stadium and provide for an awesome online experience.
The Chicago Theater only has capacity for four thousand people and it was chosen as the venue for the quarterfinals. I am having a hard time compromising so much capacity for the idea of a great online stream. The NA LCS holds about four hundred people and even though is in a studio setting, it just does not provide the energy one wishes it did because it just does not have enough people. I know for a fact that if I was in charge of selecting the venues I would have rejected anything that had less a capacity of ten thousand people, even for group stages. I just do not think that as great as a venue can be, if it does not have people in it, it just cannot have a great atmosphere.
The fact that worlds will be held in the West is a positive because I think NA and EU have shown that they are better live audiences than the Korean ones. I am even happier it will be held in NA and that the finals are on a Saturday because that means that you will see me at the Staples Center on October 29th.
I wish Riot would have been more ambitious with the capacity of the venues they chose. I wish Riot would have been more willing to explore different options in different locations, and I really wish NA wins Worlds this year.
Facts and photos courtesy of riotgames.com, tripadvisor.com and chicagolakefrontcarnivalmuscfestival.com