Dozens of those players are now in Seoul, at the fourth world championship. On Oct. 19, the finals will be held in a stadium built for soccer’s World Cup, with 40,000 fans expected and many times that number watching online. Last year, Riot Games says, 32 million people around the world saw a South Korean team win the Summoner’s Cup, along with a grand prize of $1 million, in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That’s an audience larger than the one that tuned in to the last game of the N.B.A. finals that year.
I play League of Legends, and the sheer size of the game and everything related to it still baffles me. I, too, watch the World Championships live, I play almost every day, watch other people play on live streams and youTube, and I’m still enjoying it. Quite the phenomenon.