When fans had the chance to buy tickets to the first, major, in-person League of Legends event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cloud9 diehard fans Robert and Brenda Miranda said they couldn’t miss this opportunity. After all, they’d been at the 2019 League Championship Series spring playoff finals and had a blast then, too.
“This has been amazing to come back to,” Robert Miranda said. “We loved our experience in 2019 and we couldn’t wait to get back. This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen and we’ve had a great time.”
League officials said they expected nearly 40,000 throughout the two days of competition in the LCS’ first trip to an NFL venue, boasting the largest crowd for a North American LCS event since 2017. And to meet the fans where they are, organizations from across the league dispatched contingents to the event to connect with fans. For the first time in years, fans had the opportunity to meet their favorite pros at the LCS finals.
So while LCS officials admitted to some slight hyperbole when describing the return of fans as “everything” for the future of the LCS, after tens of thousands of enthusiasts descended on Houston this weekend for the Spring Finals, it’s easy to see where they’re coming from.
Our fans make all the difference. It’s SO good to have you back! #LCS pic.twitter.com/ABjcLy9fOx
— Naz Aletaha (@NazAletaha) April 24, 2022
With years of pent-up demand and a trio of teams that brought both the new and old favorites of North American League of Legends to NRG Stadium, fans turned out in droves to not just watch the match but attend the FanFest hosted alongside the finals.
The FanFest, which featured races to clear the jungle, opportunities to interact with community streamers including Tyler1 and even the chance for gamers to finally “touch grass,” is the next step in something of a reimagining of the LCS experience that league officials envision will tie the future of the league to its fans more than ever.
What a day at the #LCS!! I was crazy busy working to make sure all these cosplayers had the best day ever!! Can’t wait to do it again tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/ZOLZxtL80F
— Missyeru (@Missyeru) April 24, 2022
“The energy coming out of this building is palpable to the people at home – we’re back,” said head of esports for North America, Chris Greeley. “Being in such a big arena this weekend gave us the opportunity to do things we couldn’t before.”
Of course, it’s not just the fans who are glad to be back. Every pro who spoke on the topic stressed the difference in energy between online and LAN play, and league officials echoed that it came up regularly in their discussions with teams as they prepared for the spring final.
Following the playoffs’ conclusion on Sunday, the LCS will return on June 18 after the international Mid-Season Invitational tournament, which pits the current best teams around the world against each other.
About the Author
Chosler is an esports storyteller who has covered the field for more than a decade. When he's not chasing his kids around he's probably playing Magic: the Gathering.