League of Legends 2017 World Championship Earns Riot a Sports Emmy

Riot Games won the first Sports Emmy even given to an esport just yesterday for the design of the 2017 World Championships broadcast.

At the 39th Sports Emmy Awards that were produced by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Riot Games’ Ariel Horn, global head of esports content at Riot Games, accepted the Emmy for Outstanding Live Graphic Design for the 2017 Worlds production. To win this award, Riot Games had some stiff competition. As seen in the video below that comes from the Sports Emmys Twitter account, the NBA, college basketball, and fellow esports production ELEAGUE were all in the running for the award as well. Horn summed up what many in the audience and at home were already thinking by saying “Wow. Esports at the Emmys, whoa. What is the world coming to here?”

If you watched the 2017 Worlds Championship yourself, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine why Riot Games won the Emmy for the League of Legends broadcast. The tweet’s video shows a brief look at the Elder Dragon that soared onto the Finals stage in Beijing where the competition was held, but the video below shows a better look at the whole dramatic entrance and exit. The musical performances going on around the dragon added to the production, but that animated dragon is what allowed Riot Games to walk away with that Sports Emmy for Oustanding Live Graphic Design.

Those who saw the Elder Dragon were wowed by its appearance and understandably wondered how the heck that was even possible. Figuring that viewers would have questions Riot Games put out a whole dev post months ago titled “Summoning the Worlds Dragon” that explained how the Elder Dragon ended up and Beijing’s Bird’s Nest and the augmented reality tech that made the event possible.

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“Initial ideas for AR use during this year’s opening ceremony included Ryze shooting magic around the stadium and Ashe firing arrows out of the projection screen,” the post explained. “But we also had this long-running joke for years: ‘Let’s just have a dragon perch on the stage.’ We didn’t have a portal to Runeterra to import a real dragon (yet), and when that joke was born, the technology needed to make a dragon feel like it was actually flying into a real stadium at a high enough quality hadn’t quite been developed (or made affordable). But by 2017, AR tech had advanced to a level that we thought might just be up to the task. We formed a team of some of our craziest technology innovators to try and answer the question of, ‘Can we make a dragon?’”

The 2018 Worlds Championship will be held in South Korea this year, so expect another huge production when it comes time for that competition.