League of Legends Worlds 2024 final to be held at London's O2 Arena

A young Korean man with black hair and large round glasses stands next to an elaborate trophy under a stage spotlight. His arms are folded and he has a serious look on his face. He wears a black tracksuit jacket with various sponsor logos - such as Red Bull - on the arms. The silver trophy has a hourglass shape - wide at the bottom, narrow in the middle and wide at the top, with four “arms” acting as handles extending out from the centre to the top. A blue gem is placed at the point where each arm joins.
Esports superstar Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok led team T1 to their fourth League of Legends world title

One of the world's biggest esports will hold its 2024 grand final at the O2 Arena in London.

League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena (moba) game that pits two teams of five against each other.

Launched in 2009, its World Championships - known as Worlds - have grown into Superbowl-style arena events.

This year's finals, held in South Korea, ended this weekend.

Korean Team T1, led by esports superstar Lee Sang-hyeok, aka "Faker", beat Chinese rival Weibo Gaming to reclaim the championship.

Fans will have to wait until next November for the team's title defence in London, which will be the game's second big event in the UK in recent years.

League of Legends' global esports boss Naz Aletaha tells BBC Newsbeat she was "blown away" by the response to its three-week the mid-season invitational event at the capital's Copper Box arena in May.

The game's top players tend to come from Asia, with South Korean and Chinese teams dominating this year's Worlds.

But Naz says she has no worries about Western fans getting on board with its flagship event when it comes to London.

"Actually, we have a very large player base in Europe," she says.

"We're pretty confident that our fans are going to show up and show out."

Lil Nas X wears a white jumpsuit and blonde-pink wig. The suit has large silver cuffs from the wrists to the elbows, and a silver chestplate. He's holding a microphone to his mouth and his other hand is pressed, palm flat against his chest. In the background a dancer wearing a similar white outfit but no wig is in the middle of a dance move, one arm outstretched and the other extended behind him. His eyes are closed. The stage is bathed in an orange-gold light.
Lil Nas X performed at the final of the 2022 Worlds

Naz admits that, like the rest of the games industry, 2023 has been a tough year for esports - which has seen high-profile team closures and bleak predictions for the future.

But she feels League of Legends is "in a position of strength".

"What I'm happy to see is that it seems like the economy is starting to turn a corner, we're seeing sponsors come back to teams, we're still seeing our fans engaged by the tens of millions around the world.

"So we know that esports is here to stay."

But esports does need to keep growing to survive, and finding new players can be hard given multiplayer gaming's reputation for toxicity, particularly for females and people of colour.

She says Riot Games, the company that makes League of Legends, has launched programmes to boost access and representation across esports.

Naz's own position is an interesting one - Riot recently paid compensation to 1,548 female staff over gender discrimination.

She's worked there for almost 12 years and says she's seen "really encouraging" progress across the company and the wider industry.

Much has been written about Naz herself, and the fact she's a woman of colour in a prominent gaming job.

"I'm personally a big believer in that adage of, if you can see her, you can be her," she says.

A woman with shoulder length, brown hair wears a navy business suit with a white and blue striped blouse underneath. She's wearing a silver teardrop pendant on a silver chain that rests just below her collarbone. She's smiling, and in the background we can just make out a stage of some sort
Naz Aletaha says she hopes people will continue to want to work in the games industry

And Naz says she hopes new generations of players, developers and behind-the-scenes workers won't be put off joining the games industry.

"My message would be that we want you to join our ranks," she says.

"The industry and the output of the industry will only get better with more diverse perspectives and more diverse inputs.

"I selfishly think that we stand to gain by you joining us. So I hope that they're encouraged, I hope they see it as a really viable career path."

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