Riot Games released League of Legends (LoL) in October 2009 and since then; the game has continually built up its fanbase. LoL features the perfect blend of fantasy and punk culture to produce a fascinating game with compelling storylines, which easily contributes to making the video game one of the most popular of all time.

New players quickly discover that it is really easy to become hooked to this game as players start from the bottom and must earn their way to the top. LoL is a 3-dimensional game which features a third-person multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) format. In each of the 3 game modes, players control champions which are chosen or assigned each match. Champions allow players to leverage a specific set of abilities which increase as the player reaches successive levels. The ultimate goal is to destroy the opposing team’s power source.

This makes for a very exciting time but one of the reasons why LoL manages to be so addictive is its level of competitiveness. Many players hope to one day reach the highest level in the game and play the most experienced players. Whatever their reasons for logging on, LoL is now the most popular game in the world with millions of active players representing more than 145 different countries!


According to Riot Games, the developer of LoL, the game holds the top spot worldwide for number of active players… and it has been there for a while, only growing in its popularity over the years. The figures for player count come from Riot. The company accesses data from its servers to provide a count of how many active daily, weekly and monthly players the game has. While there are obviously several different ways to try and arrive at similar numbers, the best statistics on the amount of players in the League have to come from Riot themselves.


While Riot Games currently operates the game and all of its service aspects in North America, the company has distribution deals for LoL throughout North America, Europe and Asia. By 2013, LoL expanded to many other countries including Canada, Australia, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, South Korea and the Philippines. With such a huge presence internationally, it should come as no surprise that in 2011, Riot Games announced that the game had over 32.5 million players. Of those, 11.5 million played monthly and of those monthly players, 4.2 million played daily. There were 5 million registered users in 2011 as well. For a game that was only 2 years old, these numbers were unprecedented but this was only the beginning.


After the first two years, League of Legends would continue to grow by leaps and bounds. In 2012, Riot released new figures on their website which addressed the games exploding popularity. This statement also compared the game’s popularity with some other top games such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 and the Top 100 games on Steam. In November 2012, the number of registered users for League of Legends increased from just 5 million in 2011 to 70 million in 2012.

In just 12 short months, the number of registered users shot up to 14 times their original size. The number of monthly players nearly tripled to 32 million and Riot reported that there were 12 million daily players and 3 million peak concurrent players. For an online video game these figures were very impressive. Not only had LoL garnered a huge following, but, it was unrivaled in terms of active players.


In 2013, Riot Games reached another landmark: 5 million concurrent players. However, fans would wait until January 2014 to celebrate with Riot as it reported 27 million active daily players and 67 million monthly players. It was apparent to fans and followers alike that LoL’s steam wasn’t showing any signs of burning out anytime soon. While growth has begun to slow down a bit as it has approached its peak, Riot still managed to double their monthly and daily players from previous figures. From 11.5 million monthly players in 2011 to 67 million three years later is a significant achievement.


Clearly, League of Legends is one of the most well-received video games in modern history. Since its 2009 release, the game has continually expanded and its popularity rivals some of the world’s most celebrated games, like Candy Crush which is played by millions of gamers on Facebook. Not surprisingly, by the end of the summer of 2012, LoL was hailed as the most played PC game in North America and Europe based on the total number of hours users played. And while LoL is very popular online, it also currently has a very large and impressive presence on platforms such as YouTube and LoL currently ranks number one in the most-watched hours based on those who tune in just to watch other players play the game (called “spectating”).

In fall of 2016, there was an estimated 100 million (or more) active players each month. The popularity of the game has led Riot to offer various merchandise that ties-in to the game such as clothes, toys, accessories, books and more. The popularity of LoL is also evident on its active and widespread competitive scenes around the world such as in North America and Europe (LCS), China (LPL), South Korea (LCK), Taiwan (LMS) and Southeast Asia (GPL). Regional competitions lead to the annual World Championship such as the one held in 2016 which boasted 43 million unique viewers and a total prize offering of more than $6 million dollars.


One of the biggest things that draws players of League of Legends to become so addicted to the game is the fact that LoL has a huge community. It’s not uncommon to find pro players streaming their games for others to watch and these pro’s have huge followings. But pro players are not the only ones who stream their highly competitive matches. Casual gamers also have popular streams where they try out new tactics or just have fun with friends online. Watching streams really helps some players get into the game because it serves as perfect word-of-mouth advertising for the game. LoL gamers also have access to hundreds of forums and reddit sub-threads where players discuss the latest meta-game, the newest patches and give advice on strategy. There are several coaches and commentators who run their own podcasts about the league as well.

A great sense of community tends to bind LoL fans together and pushes them to keep up with the latest goings-on in League of Legends which creates loyalty to the game.


Riot Games has been on an amazing journey over the last 10 years, but, it’s really just getting started. League of Legends currently boasts as many as 103 million monthly active players, compared to its rival, Dota 2, which only had 13.5 million players a month in the same period. You can even compare these amazing figures with Overwatch, which has a total player pool of 15 million. LoL’s 100 million plus players are really impressive when they are put into context. Consider that there are 100 million or so monthly users who use the Huber-popular music streaming service Spotify. Also, League of Legends’ numbers are much more than the 83 million worldwide subscribers boasted by streaming video giant Netflix.

League of Legends’ user base continues to increase rapidly and more and more gamers flock to the growing eSports market, which was projected to have approached half a billion dollars in global revenue in 2016 alone. Tournaments have continued to move into the mainstream as eSports teams compete around the world in matches with huge followings and millions of dollars at stake in prizes and sponsorships. In fact, major media companies like Walt Disney’s ESPN and Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting have jumped into the eSports fray. League of Legends draws one of the biggest draws crowds each year and fills stadiums with tens of thousands of fans. In 2015’s World Championship, LoL averaged 4.2 million concurrent viewers on TV and online. It goes without saying that League of Legends is a huge phenomenon which has helped set up the stage for eSports to enter mainstream consciousness. LoL can almost single-handedly be credited with kicking off the next generation of competitive gaming.

It appears that Riot has an awesome formula for success: the company provides regular updates, offers exciting new champions, and various competitive gaming tournaments. All of this contributes to making LoL irresistible to gamers. The game itself is awesome. There are currently 132 champions in LoL, each of which features their own individual abilities, personalities, backstories, voices and costumes. The nice thing is that Riot is constantly adding more champions and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Also encouraging is the fact that the company is making a conscientious effort to improve the quality of new champions it releases which also means efforts to update old champions in need of new visuals, new sounds, and new backstories over time so that they are a closer match to the depth of gameplay as the more modern champions.


League of Legends is a global game and there are millions of people playing around the world at any given time. There are gamers online right now across China, South Korea, Brazil, Denmark, Turkey, the United States, Vietnam, South Africa and scores of other countries around the world.

Developers can appreciate that each of these regions is distinct with its own unique quirks. With the exponential growth that Riot has seen in the past few years, the company struggles to find a balance. And yet, the developer does not complain about its immense popularity. The goal is to create a game that millions, if not billions, of people worldwide can continue to enjoy for many years to come.

Obviously though, with a massive player base, LoL faces some difficulties that other games don’t. Every region is diverse and its players have vastly different skill levels, from beginner all the way to a professional eSports team member. Even more challenging is the fact that each player expects a fair and balanced game regardless of their experience level.

LoL players tend to be extremely diversity and in setting up the game to match the unique skills and tastes of millions of players, the company has to be careful. Riot relies on the employees in its offices around the world to offer insights about the local atmosphere. Also, the developer regularly asks players what they want to see fixed or added to LoL.

One such fix was made at the end of the last season to the new Dynamic Queue, which was a very unpopular change made by developers during the 2016 season. Dynamic Queue was intended to replace the Solo/Duo Queue and team ranking. However, the new system was met with a firestorm of angry critics who argued that the change was a huge and very disruptive mistake. Players claimed that the new system destroyed the meaning behind a player’s rank because you would never know if it was based on skill or if it was based on an unearned boost from someone on his team. Players threatened to leave the game in droves if changes were not reversed. A short eight months after introducing the new system, Riot Games admitted that the Dynamic Queue had fallen short of many goals with an apology.

The company realizes that while changes are needed, there is a very fine line to walk. You don’t want to lose players but you also don’t want to be afraid to improve the game and earn more players. At the same time, players have very high expectations of the games that they love and devote their time to. They expect problems to be addressed quickly and honestly. Changes can be tricky but in order to continue to grow and add more players to its base, Riot plans to keep rolling them out.

With the way things are going, it can’t be long before Riot is rolling out the celebration banner for its new high of 300 million players! With an increasing number of amazing champions and the shortest queue times on record, LoL will be unstoppable at that point!

November 19, 2021
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