Jan 9, 2020

League of Legends Championship Series to debut Monday night matchup

Photo: Borja B. Hojas/Getty Images

Taking a page out of the NFL's playbook, the League of Legends Championship Series — one of a handful of esports leagues built around popular game titles — will air a marquee matchup every Monday night this season.

What's happening: "Monday Night League" will start at 8pm ET and will be broadcast on the league's website, as well as YouTube and Twitch.

What they're saying: "The overwhelming feeling was, let's carve out a space where nobody else is," LCS commissioner Chris Greeley told WashPost, alluding to the fact that Monday nights are relatively quiet in the months following the NFL regular season.

  • "We can start to create some habits .... Get home from work, get home from school and have something to tune into on Monday nights instead of the void we have now."

The big picture: Every esports competition has drawn inspiration from traditional sports leagues, but 2020 is poised to be the year they really start to look like them.

  • While LCS innovates on the broadcast front (they also have NFL RedZone-inspired coverage on Fridays), the Overwatch League is taking things a step further by introducing a traditional home and away format this season.
  • Beginning Feb. 8, the Overwatch League's 20 teams will move from playing at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, Calif., to playing in arenas around the world in each of the team's home cities.

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Overwatch League is taking esports local in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over its first two seasons, the Overwatch League's city-based esports franchises played their matches in a designated arena in L.A. This year, the league goes local, with all 20 teams hosting competitions in their home cities. This weekend's hosts: NYC and Dallas.

Why it matters: This home-and-away format represents a giant leap in the maturation of an esports league that eventually wants to look like the NFL, except on an international scale, according to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, which developed the game and operates the league.

Go deeperArrowFeb 6, 2020 - Sports

Twitch grows bigger than gaming

Reproduced from StreamElements; Table: Axios Visuals

Twitch, the Amazon-owned video-streaming service that got its start with live video-gaming and esports, is expanding into other other verticals.

Why it matters: So many Silicon Valley social and video upstarts debut with a niche purpose, like Twitch with live-streaming esports or Discord with chatting about esports, but eventually broaden in scope as consumers find new uses for them.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020

Sheffield United isn't supposed to be this good

Data: Premier League; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sheffield United is back in the Premier League for the first time in 13 years, and through its first 22 games, the club has 32 points and sits in sixth place, just behind Manchester United and ahead of both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

Why it matters: It's the best 22-game start to a Premier League season for a newly promoted team since Birmingham City picked up 33 points in 2009-10, per FiveThirtyEight, and the fourth-best ever behind 2005-06 Wigan Athletic (34 points) and 2000-01 Ipswich Town (37 points).

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020