Shenzhen, China, will serve as the host city for the 2021 League of Legends World Championship Finals, one of the biggest esports competitions in the world.
Announced by Riot Games Head of Global Esports John Needham on Friday, the company and the Chinese government will also apply a multi-city tour strategy through its host region.
“Worlds 2021 aims to be the biggest esports tournament ever, and win the biggest sports event on the planet,” Needham stated in the announcing video.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Worlds 2020 did not embark on a multi-city tour as Riot Games had done for the past nine years. The whole series of competitions were hosted in Shanghai for a month, with the finals taking place in Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium with over 6,312 fans in attendance. The viewership of the final – Chinese team Suning vs. South Korean team Damwon Gaming (DWG), broke viewership records, achieving more than 23M average minutes audiences across all platforms.
Since Riot Games hosted the first Worlds in Sweden in 2011, it has become the global annual esports event with the most commercial value. Worlds 2020 had multiple global technology partners including Bose, OPPO, Cisco, and Spotify, as well as large non-endemic brands Louis Vuitton, MasterCard, and Red Bull.
In fact, the original plan for Worlds 2021 was that it would be hosted in the U.S. That plan changed as China was chosen to continue to host Worlds 2021, with the U.S. hosting Worlds 2022, thanks to the Chinese government successfully making the pandemic controllable.
The city of Shenzhen is called the economic center of China because it is also the home of large Chinese conglomerates such as Tencent, Huawei, and Vanke. Tencent also fully owns Riot Games, the game developer of League of Legends. Recently, multiple Chinese city governments released their supportive policies and plans for developing local esports infrastructures.
Like previous Worlds competitions, the city tour features six cities. Despite Shenzhen being confirmed to host the 2021 Worlds Finals, the other three cities will likely be Beijing, Wuhan, and Shanghai. The other two cities selected could be chosen from Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Suzhou, Hainan, or Foshan, based on current government esports support in those cities.
In addition, Needham also stated that the company is ready to develop the esports ecosystem for its new mobile game, the League of Legends: Wild Rift in 2021.