Interview of Game Developers, Whalen Rozelle esports general director

Published : Monday, December 14, 2015, 6:20 pm
ACROFAN=Hyung-Keun Kim | | SNS
Riot Games is trying many changes for adjusting balance of ‘League of Legends’, its strategic game.

Especially ahead of 2016, by heralding a wholesale change, it makes users hope to see how the result of a change will be shown. Hence, we visited the head office of Riot Games during the event ‘League of Legends All-Star 2015’, and heard the story from the game developers about what will be changed.

As the third, we talked about achievements of esports in 2015, the flow of 2016 and etc to Whalen Rozelle esports general director, in charge of managing esports.

▲ Talked to Whalen Rozelle director about achievements and flow of esports.

Q1. First, what is a general review of ‘League of Legends’ esports for this year?

This year was very good for ‘League of Legends’. Esports also had many developments, held the first MSI in this year, and several teams won victories in various regions. This year is judged as a positive year in attendance rate or ratings.

Q2. What degree is the reputation of esports at the US and Europe have?

There might be diffierence from Asia where esports already established, but recently the number of viewers is increasing and it marks a steep growth.

Q3. What do you view as vital to esports being accepted into mainstream sports?

Compared to tranditional sports, it is the fact that esports is still immature, but its growth rate is very fast. To be accepted as an official sport, we are working on making users watch competition at the real site or increasing liveview, since we think these will change recognition. However, rather than simply following official sports, we are working hard in establishing eco-system for constructing environment of esports. Having virtuous cycle relationship between player and investor would be a driving force behind fundamental development.

Q4. Like this year’s MSI, is there anything being prepared for esports in the next year?

It’s too early to tell a new event in the next year, and we will make a new plan after looking back on the last events. Apart from it, we keep investing for development of each region’s league. May be a league by region is not as attractive as a global event, it is a great chance to meet fans at the real site.

Q5. The number of holding global competitions in separated regions is increasing, and where do you want the competition to be held?

As you know, a big global event was held in several regions including Seoul, Europe was host to League of Legends World Championship in this year, but MSI was held in the US. Likewise, we think that opening a competition in various regions is a good thing for fans. Apart from existing four regions, we are seeking for some methods such as creating a new competition to cover newly growing countries including Brazil, Turkey, and Southeast Asia. Though I can’t mention specific regions, I am able to tell you that we are seeking the direction to meet fans in the region by visiting various regions.

Q6. What is the reason of registering LCK trademark rights at the head office recently?

I think you asked it due to many issues recently related to LCK, but there is a little difficult part to answer here. We are cooperating between head office and branch office, but I think it’s better to talk to someone in charge of local region esports.

Q7. Unlike North America, Riot Games, KeSPA, and OGN form the third party consultative group in Korea. What difference exists when compared to Riot Games taking the lead?

We can say that Korea is rather unusual case. It is the region strong in esports, and also the third party is organically combined. Riot Games is in situation of running around alone in other regions, but I think a synergy happens through cooperation of the third party in Korea. What’s more, if another partner exists in other regions, it will be advantageous for delivering good experience. Of course there might be some pros and cons of two wyas, Riot Games taking the lead and a consultative group formation, but I would say forming a consultative group is better as various opinions can be made.

Q8. Users have a lot of interest in Riot Games’s investing amount in LCK, and how much is the difference when compared to LCS?

Though investing amount varies based on timing, when looked at as a whole, the amounts are similar. As the parts requiring money are similar anywhere, there is no much relationship with the fact of the partner’s existence and nonexsistence. Also, basically, we want to avoid the situation of making more investment in a specific region, not a new region.

For your information, while in the case of North America and Europe, invested for the coaching staff, we invested in different parts in Korea as the coaching staff already took place. When fans see this, they might think why only invested in one side, but what we are avoiding is carrying out the same investment into the regions having different growing rate.

Q9. What do you think about the best method of providing an optimal coverage environment like what fans hope?

It is difficult to answer certainly, and also we keep learning it. We had made a coverage for maximum 11 hours in the past, but it had been pointed out for many times that it’s too long. Therefore, we tried hard to shorten by 6 hours as it is today. Planning various experiments in North America, but we couldn’t find a clear answer. So, we always review the competitions even if they got positive results.

Also, now is a special time. A form of consuming TV keeps changing, and online viewers are increasing so that it became easy to select the channel that a consumer wants. We are going to provide service focused on the change of broadcasting environment, and we are also considering a broadcasting method for fans, as they enjoy to participate rather than to watch.

Q10. How important is esports to ‘League of Legends’?

They are inseparable. Popularity of ‘League of Legends’ raises its profile in esports, and popularity gained from esports again raise interests in items and contents in the game.

Q11. Are you considering making profit through esports?

Many ideas are came out as esports develops, but I think a long-term growth as esports is more significant than creating an immediate profit. We could have more opened think of the ideas in the far future, but one thing’s for certain, hurting users’ experience such as making them pay to watch in a better quality will never happen.

Q12. In North America and Europe, Riot Games is directly participating in producing broadcasts, and is there any plan to directly participate in Korea and other regions?

Though it’s hard to give an answer confined to a particular region, in case of Korea, cooperation with the partner is already proceeding, and satisfied with producing a high-quality broadcast. As I answered to the earlier question, if there is a partner to show sufficient quality, I believe it’s better to work with a partner.

▲ Apart from investment, Whallen Rozelle commented that it’ll be better to be with a partner if it exists.

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