Once again Riot has turned the opening ceremonies of the League of Legends World Championship final into a technological showcase. This year at Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai, the ceremony was split into a few different parts: it opened with virtual K-pop group K/DA performed via augmented reality, which was followed by a melody of anthems from past Worlds events. At the end, as the players were introduced, a virtual, towering version of League character Galio — known as the stone colossus — appeared on stage.
While the event wasn’t as visually impressive as last year’s holographic showcase, it was still an impressive feat considering the restraints created by the ongoing pandemic. The main cast of performers were virtual, but they were accompanied by a few dozen real-world dancers and musicians, including Chinese pop star Lexie Liu. (There was also a very cyberpunk-looking AR Ducati motorcycle that helped kick things off.)
Perhaps the most noticeable feature, especially in comparison to other esports events in 2020, was the presence of fans: around 6,000 people were in attendance to watch Korea’s Damwon Gaming defeat Suning Gaming of China in the championship match. Later on, after the games actually started, Riot also announced a release window for the first League spinoff, which launches next year.
Ahead of the finals, the early stages of this year’s edition of Worlds looked a bit different due to the pandemic. Prior to the finals, the month-long tournament was played out of a high-tech studio in Shanghai, one that utilized an Unreal Engine-powered backdrop to create some astonishing mixed reality effects. The technology was similar to what Disney used to create The Mandalorian.
These kinds of spectacles are becoming the norm for Riot. At last year’s Worlds in Paris, a holographic hip-hop group performed (with an assist from Louis Vuitton), while the year before K/DA debuted via an augmented reality concert in Incheon. There’s also more to come from the virtual K-pop group. K/DA will be releasing its first EP on November 6th, and just this week Riot released an animated video for the single “More.”