We were in London to compare a football match and esports
- The MSI Finals, one of the most important esports events in the world, took place over the weekend. It was staged at the World Football Center – London
- The matches took place at the same time and in the same park as the Premier League match
- It was a great opportunity to compare football and esports fans. There are many differences between them, but there are also many similarities
- Both a football match and an esports match are very similar events that perfectly connect the participating fan community
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The Mid Season Invitational is one of the two most important League of Legends tournaments of the year. In terms of prestige and sporting level, it is second only to the World Championships, which are organized in the fall. The best teams from all major regions of the world compete to win the MSI. The tournament was attended by two teams from the Chinese LPL, the Korean LCK, the European LEC and the American LCS. There were also, among others, representatives of Brazil, Taiwan and South America. This is one of the most popular events in the entire world of esports. This year, the Grand Final was held in the capital of Great Britain – London.
Sports and esports side by side
The MSI Finals has not only reached the center of football in the world, but also the same park where Premier League matches are played every day. The final match of the League of Legends tournament took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the Copper Box Arena. At the same time, just 100 meters away, the league match between West Ham United and Leeds United was being played at the Olympic Stadium.
Sports and esports fans set out to watch their favorite matches at the same time and came back from them at the same time, so it was a great opportunity to notice the differences and similarities between them. The first thing that attracted attention was their quantity. Although League of Legends is the most popular esport in the world and MSI is one of the two most important leagues in the game, there were definitely more fans of West Ham who were 14th in the table.
There are, of course, several reasons for this situation. Newham is home to West Ham and home to some of their most loyal fans. In contrast, in the MSI Finals, two Chinese teams (JDG and BLG) faced each other, and their fans had to travel half the globe. When the European G2 team took part in the League of Legends World Championship Finals in Paris in 2019, the situation in front of the field was very different. The hall was surrounded by huge crowds of fans clapping and chanting the name of the European team at the top of their lungs.
There are also differences…
However, that doesn’t change the fact that if the 14th Premier League team is able to attract significantly more fans to their game than MSI, it means that esports still has a lot to catch up with. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. League of Legends is under 15 years old. This is not much compared to the more than 100-year history of West Ham United, not to mention the history of football itself.
Of course, the huge difference in the number of fans at this type of event is influenced by the habits of the spectators themselves. Esports has been associated with broadcasting technology and watching matches in front of a computer screen since the beginning. Esports fans mainly congregate on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. They experience matches together using virtual chat, rather than expressing their feelings by shouting on the field.
There is also no tradition of supporting local teams in esports. All matches of the LEC League of Legends, for example, are played in Berlin, and not in the stadiums of individual teams. There have been attempts to change this situation (American Overwatch League), but so far they have not succeeded much. Esports fans are more associated with esports organizations or players of a certain nationality than with a meeting place.
The similarities and differences can be seen in the appearance and clothing of the fans themselves. It was easy to recognize both of them walking in a London garden, but they looked very different. While on match days West Ham United fans mainly wore their favorite team’s shirts and scarves, among League of Legends fans, clothing related to the game or tournament itself predominated. Teemo inspired caps and MSI color t-shirts. Even the Chinese fans did not have T-shirts to indicate their affinity for the team. JDG or BLG clothing also cannot be purchased in stores around the Copper Box yard. It was dominated by tournament and League of Legends-related clothing. In contrast, West Ham United’s scarves and shirts can be seen from the morning on the road to the stadium. It was sold by elderly fans who enthusiastically encouraged people to buy it.
What does an esports match look like?
Age is also a factor that strongly differentiates between the two groups discussed. Among League of Legends fans, youth from their teens to their 30s definitely triumphed. Interestingly, they were not only men and there were also a large number of young women. In turn, among the fans of the London football team, one can see a whole segment of British society. West Ham United shirts have been worn by youth groups, older couples and families with young children.
However, the differences between sports and esports fans became blurred during the meetings themselves. They both enthusiastically cheered for their favorite teams. In a packed Copper Box arena, you can hear loud cries from both JDG (the finalists) and BLG fans. Esports fans also had their favorite players (Bin from team BLG), whose successful plays were met with very loud applause. In this respect, League of Legends is indeed extremely close to soccer. There are still no frames of professional matches prepared by ultras, but on the other hand, during a LoL match, I have never experienced any vocalization or aggression towards any of the teams.
Comparing the popularity of youth esports to the most popular sport in the world is clearly unfair. Especially in the last center of the world, which is undoubtedly London. Esports has a long way to go to catch up with soccer, and there is a good chance it will never catch up. More interesting, however, are all sorts of slight differences and similarities between the participants in both events.
MSI is primarily a celebration of the game and its players, not fans of specific teams. On the one hand, a very effective marketing campaign, but on the other hand, a great way to unite the community. In this respect, League of Legends plays a similar role to soccer. However, the main difference is that soccer teams have a huge impact on local communities, while League of Legends has a greater global reach.
Either way, watching live sports and sports provide very similar experiences and emotions. I recommend everyone who loves this group experience to participate in both events at least once.
Creation date: Today 15:12