By Brian Eaton, Global Sports & Entertainment Partnerships at Cisco
With the NFL and college football dominating the sports headlines lately, not to mention the NBA and NHL seasons kicking off; Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer Leagues all about to crown champions; and the World Cup on the horizon, there is certainly no shortage of live sports to enjoy these days.
On top of all that, one of the largest and most-watched sporting events in the world – the League of Legends World Championships – culminates this weekend right in Cisco’s backyard at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The multi-city, multi-stage event, which has been going on since September 29, is being held in North America for the first time since 2016 and with a full audience of fans for the first time since 2019.
For the first time since 2016, the League of Legends Championships is being held in North America, with stops in Mexico City, New York City (pictured above), Atlanta and San Francisco.
Cisco has been the Official Enterprise Networking Partner of Riot Games since 2019, powering the organization’s global operations for the most popular PC game in the world, League of Legends, as well as its global championships. Over the past few years, this partnership has allowed Cisco to leverage the global power of Riot Games, increase brand and product awareness with a new audience, and reach the future generation of tech buyers and IT employees.
As the only sport in the world to inherently rely on technology to exist, this partnership offers an authentic use case to cement Cisco as an innovative solutions provider through the world’s leading esports organization. Throughout the past three years, Cisco and Riot Games have worked together to build and deploy The Realm – a dedicated Cisco game server that Riot Games uses exclusively for pro-level competitive matches at major global events. The Realm ensures equitable and fair play for all participants at the highest level of the sport by creating a near-zero-ping environment, meaning a player can send a command to the game and have its server respond nearly instantaneously.
And now, with the Worlds Final taking place on our home turf, we are excited to bring the power of The Realm to fans for the first time ever. As part of the Worlds Fan Fest held at the Chase Center on the days leading up to the event, Cisco will offer a first-of-its-kind fan activation that will unveil The Realm for everyday players and fans, allowing them to play on the exact PC specs of the pros and experience the ultra-fast, responsive gameplay made possible by the Cisco network.
Pictured above: Fans watch during the Play-In stage in Mexico City. The League of Legends World Championships is being held in front of full capacity audiences for the first time this year since 2019.
But The Realm is just the beginning. In addition to using the power of Cisco technology to improve the playing experience for professionals, Riot Games has also prioritized bringing the sport to more fans around the world by investing in new remote broadcast centers, the first of which deployed in Dublin earlier this year. The massive undertaking – dubbed Project Stryker – is built entirely on the strength of Cisco technology and will allow Riot Games to support live esports productions across its portfolio of titles, as well as both regional and global events. It’s truly a game-changer for Riot Games as they look to capitalize on the explosive growth they have seen over the past decade and set themselves up for future success. Having a trusted, global partner like Cisco serving as the technological foundation of it all was essential for the project to succeed, according to Riot Games’ Director of Infrastructure Engineering, Scott Adametz.
The 2021 League of Legends World Championships was the most-watched event in Riot Games’ history. There was an average of more than 30 million worldwide viewers tuning in during the event, peaking at an astronomical 70 million concurrent viewers. Reaching this demographic through a channel they’re passionate about is a key opportunity for Cisco’s business. Today’s gamers and esports fans are tomorrow’s network buyers or network engineers.