League of Legends: Wild Rift (the mobile successor to the original MOBA from Riot Games) was released on October 27th, 2020. With almost six months having passed since the launch, the discipline had its first serious tournaments, and the top teams of Southeast Asia started unveiling their rosters for the discipline. Let’s take a look at where and how the title itself was first distributed, and which organizations were the first to enter the discipline.
Twitch was the first to propel the game
Twitch Rivals League of Legends: Wild Rift Invitational became the game’s first event and took place almost a week before the official launch. Any new title for a popular publisher is bound to attract the viewer interest, and so the game’s broadcast gathered a total of 130K viewers.
Popular influencers and show matches
In December, the game gained popularity thanks to the stars of streaming platforms and in-game encounters between them. The Wild Rift #ForTheWomen League of Legends: Wild Rift Showmatch took place on December 5th. Riot Games picked some of the especially popular content creators from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia – such as Biancake, Rilinnz, Arkaw, and Charlie
However, the girls did not launch their own broadcasts. As such, all content could only be viewed on the Facebook page of the Filipino streamer Alodia Gosiengfiao – and ended up attracting 2.3K peak viewers.
Next came the events from third-party tournament operators. One of these was the First Blood Showmatch, organized by the Liga de Videojuegos Profesional (one of world’s most popular esports leagues) with the support of Riot Spain. The matches between the Spanish teams were watched by 10K peak viewers.
Another show match was held for fans from the CIS, organized with the Russian office of Riot games. The tournament featured the encounter of Unicorns of Love (whom we know for their PC version of League of Legends’ esports scene achievements) and Unique Devu, a popular CIS-based team for mobile MOBA Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Unicorns of Love were getting acquainted with the new mechanics of the game altogether, while Unique Devu had to get used to the new controls. As a result, a total of 11.5K people watched the show match at the same time, which is even more than at the event from the Spaniards.
The beginnings of esports
The first Wild Rift esports tournament was held by IO Esports in Southeast Asia. The organizers gathered Asian teams composed of popular bloggers and streamers. Another feature of the event was that only half of the prize fund went to the participants, while the other half went to charity. We have provided a wider coverage of the tournament’s results in a separate article.
Esports organizations have also tried their hand here: with North American 16-Bit Esports organizing their own events. Team Secret organized a community tournament in Southeast Asia, using this as a chance to streamline their own matters: all those who played at the tournament had the opportunity to sign a contract with Team Secret and join the new team.
Trying their hand at Wild Rift were Team Singularity and Wild Rift Competitive (a team of esports enthusiasts out to collect all the information about the esports scene of the new MOBA). Additionally, the discipline managed to reach a wider audience thanks to being presented at the Taipei Game Show 2021 – which was a fairly large event by the Asian gaming community standards.
Southeast Asia is playing big
Riot Games has begun laying the foundations for the Wild Rift esports scene, with the first step being the ESL sponsored SEA Icon Series 2021. The competitions were held in Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam. By the end of March, we will also see matches in Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.
Currently, there is a pre-season tournament ongoing. Then, in the summer we will have the main stage featuring the region’s top teams. So far, the Vietnamese region has shown the best results – 10K peak viewers and 69K hours watched.
Is Trovo eyeing a new product from Riot Games?
Tencent's platform initially claimed that it would focus on mobile gaming. However, our analysis of Trovo’s launch showed that one it comes to the popular categories, at least one half of these cannot be called mobile. At the same time, Trovo sponsored Wild Rift events (such as Zenith Open Asia Spring, Wild Rift Asia Brawl 2020 and Singularity Winter Cup 2021) – which is why the events were streamed on this platform.
Let's see if Wild Rift will be able to maintain its Trovo niche and audience in a steady way. At the very least, Wild Rift made it into the top 30 most popular categories of the service in February 2021, while the broadcasts of its tournaments on Trovo contributed 3.2% to the total number of Wild Rift esports hours watched.
The legends of Southeast Asia are conquering Wild Rift
Currently, Wild Rift as a game has not gained much popularity. The priority of the viewers lies with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Arena of Valor, which were also featured in the top 5 most popular mobile games of 2020. ML:BB is mostly dominating such regions as Indonesia and the Philippines, while Arena of Valor is currently the number one game for Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan.
At the moment, it can be seen that the popular ML:BB and AoV teams are starting to unveil their Wild Rift rosters. The reason is rather simple – in this case the market is unoccupied and has no tier-1 teams, which means it is up for the taking to whoever comes first.
RRQ (the top ML:BB team of 2020), Alter Ego, Team Flash (the top AoV team of 2020) and Buriram United Esports already unveiled their LoL: WR rosters. These are some of the most striking examples of popular organizations for these games.
We shall make a separate mention of the interest shown to the new title in the CIS. Recently, Natus Vincere unveiled their roster for the game, and the 1218 team (known to fans of PUBG: Mobile) even held their own Wild Rift tournament.
At the moment, there’s one thing that can be said for sure – the potential of League of Legends: Wild Rift has not yet been fully revealed. For this, there are several reasons:
1. The game was initially available only to some countries. The first wave of distribution encompassed Southeast Asia (as it is the central hub for mobile esports). Next, the Europeans were able to try the game, and it was only at the beginning of 2021 that the title reached North America.
2. Lack of major leagues: the organizers have only just started popularizing the new discipline.
3. Popular teams have started to unveil their rosters only now. Yes, the “pillars of mobile esports” have already announced their rosters for the new MOBA. But considering that this happened only February-March 2021, it is still too early to judge just how successful these rosters shall be – as the large-scale tournaments (of the caliber of MPL in ML:BB or Arena of Glory in AoV) are not yet around.
It is difficult to gauge the success of Wild Rift, given that the abovementioned tournaments are merely laying down the foundation for the discipline. For this reason, we will return to this game in the near future. First of all, we shall analyze the results of the pre-season of Icon Series 2021. Subscribe to our social networks in order to stay updated on esports statistics.