Earlier this year, competitive League of Legends officially announced that it was coming to Monday nights with an initiative titled, as one might expect, Monday Night League. There's been a couple matches at this point, but before it kicked off, we spoke with Riot Games about why this was happening at all, and what it would consider a success.
"During the regular season, LCS will be expanding to 3 days a week with games on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays at the LCS Studios," Riot Games announced in early January, if you missed it. "Each Saturday and Sunday, there will be 4 LCS games followed by an in-studio Academy game."
To find out, why, exactly, competitive League of Legends move to Monday nights, at least in the United States, we spoke with Chris Greeley, commissioner of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) about all things Monday Night League.
"It provides us with an opportunity to do two things, right?" Greeley says. "One is to highlight for our fans, for our pros, for our teams this moment in esports where we're putting our flag in the ground. There's not a lot of esports that you're going to find on Monday night. It's our chance to take center stage, take four of our teams, put them on stage, and really put the spotlight on them. On the teams, on the brands, and specifically on the pro players."
According to Greeley, the idea is to curate the same sort of experience as Monday Night Football has in the past, with folks watching regardless of who is playing, but for League of Legends esports. "If you're a Cloud9 fan and the game is Evil Geniuses and Dignitas, we still want you to plug in for the Monday night matches that matter, and you know, follow the stories and the pros and jump right on board," he says.
And it's not like this is totally out of left field, either. Greeley says that the idea of some kind of spotlight like this, whether that be in the middle of the week or Friday or Monday, has been bouncing around internally for about two years. He's also keen on how it'll help put some eyeballs on the Academy League, which provides spots for every franchise to train up players in a lower-stakes environment.
"So last year, summer 2019, every Sunday we put one Academy game on stage at the end of the LCS day," Greeley says. "Our teams liked it, the Academy players liked it. Fans generally liked it as well to kind of get this additional content. So by moving to a third day, we opened up a lot of space in our schedule, and now every Academy team will have one onstage game every week."
This isn't the first major change for the LCS, however, and it likely won't be the last. If it doesn't work, things will change; it's the nature of the beast. So, what makes for a successful Monday Night League presence for the LCS? According to Greeley, it's about what you'd expect: viewership.
"We are really going to be focused on fan sentiment, pro player sentiment, and then ultimately viewership, because Reddit can tell you a lot, but it is a vocal minority, and if people are watching we know that we've done our job," Greeley notes. "There's a lot of factors that go into that -- maybe we picked the wrong night, maybe we picked the wrong time slot, maybe people don't want to watch the games that we schedule. But you know, we'll spend a lot of time doing a deep dive on our viewership information and survey results and fan sentiment to really gauge whether or not the things that we did were successful, and to the extent there are changes that we can make to make them even more successful, we'll be looking to iterate in the future."
What do you think of Monday Night League so far? Are you a fan of the LCS -- or esports in general? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things gaming!
League of Legends is currently available on PC, but a mobile and console version has been announced by Riot Games. The LCS currently takes place on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays with few exceptions. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the popular MOBA video game right here.
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