League of Legends Event in LA Expected to Draw Millions of Spectators

Stroll around Staples Center right now, and you might wonder what huge athletic event is being planned.

There are hardcore fans buzzing, Chick Hearn Court is completely blocked to traffic and giant barriers and signs advertise an upcoming world championship.

Despite the sense of anticipation, many may be totally unfamiliar with the event: It's the 2016 League of Legends World Championship, where the best international gaming teams play each other online. And the multi-player online battle arena is not something fans can see broadcast on traditional TV.

"They're competitive and larger than, say, the NBA finals," said Dmitri Williams, who specializes in video gaming at USC's Annenberg School. "These are really, really big events."

Crowds aren't flocking to Staples to play the video game — they're coming to watch other people play. The event pulls in more spectators every year than the Stanley Cup Finals and World Series combined.

"This is the world's most popular game — 100 million monthly active players," Williams said.

Santa Monica-based Riot Games generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year from this one title, said Williams.

League of Legends allows players to battle each other in real-time from all over the world.

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