Skip to main content

‘League of Legends’ tournaments coming to ESPN+ starting in July

ESPN has announced that League of Legends is coming to ESPN+. The cable sports network made the announcement on Friday, saying that it has signed a multi-year agreement with LoL‘s developer Riot Games. ESPN+ will kick off its coverage on July 16 — just in time for the North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split. Following this, the summer finals will be held in September, followed by the world championships later this year,

ESPN’s agreement with Riot is not an exclusive one, so LoL fans will still be able to stream the matches on Twitch at no cost. ESPN is likely hoping this move will entice some people to sign up for its ESPN+ subscription service. The service costs $5 per month and gives users access to thousands of hours of live sporting events, original programming, and ad-free use of the ESPN’s site and mobile app.

Like many traditional media outlets, ESPN has struggled with adapting to how the internet has changed news and sports coverage. The cable news network has had to contend with dwindling subscription numbers, as many people opt to cut ties with cable altogether. In its prime, ESPN was one of America’s most popular outlets for coverage of sporting events, analysis, and player interviews. Now that virtually every professional athlete has their own Twitter profile, there is less need for traditional sporting coverage.

The decline of cable may play a large part in ESPN’s decision to move into the realm of esports coverage. A decade or so ago, the idea of ESPN covering video games in a major way was a laughable concept, but esports have grown into a multi-million dollar industry, with a fanbase just as devoted as those of any traditional sport. In fact, many esports teams, such as those in the Overwatch League and a handful of LoL teams, are owned by major sports teams.

ESPN’s deal with Riot is not the first time that ESPN has covered MOBA competitions. In 2015 and 2016, ESPN partnered with Blizzard Entertainment for coverage of the Heroes of the Dorm tournament, which focused on Blizzard’s own MOBA, Heroes of the Storm.

Editors' Recommendations

Eric Brackett
Former Digital Trends Contributor
2023 was a renaissance for strategy games. Enjoy it while you can
The main male protagonist in Fire Emblem Engage.

The strategy game genre found itself in a renaissance this year -- and you might not have noticed.

Coming off the excellent Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Marvel's Midnight Suns last fall, strategy games started and ended 2023 off strong from the AAA to the indie space. Unfortunately, in such a crowded year, many of the excellent games in this niche genre flew more under the radar. If you missed out on games like Fire Emblem Engage, Pikmin 4, Wargroove 2, and Last Train Home, you're missing out on a golden age of one of gaming's best genres.
Strategic moves
Many iconic strategy game franchises came back this year, starting in January. On the Xbox front, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition finally came to Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, bringing one of the best real-time-strategy titles to consoles for the first time. On Switch, Nintendo started the year off strong with Fire Emblem Engage. It served as a joyful celebration of the entire franchise, reflecting that in gameplay with the titular Engage system that allows player units to get more powerful and gain additional abilities by working with classic Fire Emblem characters.

Read more
Get an exclusive new look at Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story
Key art for Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story.

From the moment Riot Forge’s Rowan Parker finished playing Tequila Works’ RiME, he knew he had to make a game with the studio.

“I played RiME and was like, ‘Oh my god, this game is incredible. I wonder if they would want to work with us?” Parker told Digital Trends during a recent interview over video chat. “Tequila Works is really good at telling these tight, human stories that bring you up close to all of the emotion. Working with them to tell stories with our characters is kind of a dream situation.”

Read more
Riot Forge explains why Bandle Tale is a perfect fit for its developer
Key art for Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story.

During the September 14 Nintendo Direct, publisher Riot Forge popped up with not one, but two announcements. Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story got a November 1 release date, while a brand new game starring Runeterra’s adorable Yordles, titled Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story, was announced. Ahead of these reveals, Digital Trends spoke to Rowan Parker, Riot Forge’s creative director, and learned more about the newly announced game.

Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story | Official Announcement Trailer

Read more