PARIS (Reuters) – Chinese video gamers crushed a team from Europe on Sunday who were hoping to break the domination of Asian players in the world championship finals of online game “League of Legends”.
With more than $1 million up for grabs, China’s FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) swept the tournament, beating Europe’s G2 Esports in all three games before a crowd of over 15,000 fans in Paris.
The game, developed 10 years ago by Los Angeles-based Riot Games, sees teams of players face off in a virtual battle arena with one main goal: destroying their opponents’ “Nexus” base.
After strong showings earlier in the series, the Europeans were the favourites to win the grand final of the 10th edition of the championship, held this year in Paris’ AccorHotels Arena.
However, the Chinese team smashed European hopes of ending Asia’s supremacy with their victory.
South Korea has won five of the six previous championships, with Chinese team Invictus Gaming winning last year.
“FPX is a really good team, so even if we had played better it would have been rough,” G2 Esports coach Fabian Lohmann, whose gaming name is “GrabbZ”, told reporter.
Along with Dota 2, Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends is one of the most popular games in the fast growing esports – video game competitions.
The European and Chinese teams in Sunday’s finals were composed of five players each, all male and aged between 19 and 24.
The tournament had a prize pool this year of about $6.5 million, making it the third-biggest after Dota 2’s The International and the Fortnite World Cup.
The winning team got almost $835,000, with the runners-up receiving more than $300,000.
Riot Games said last year’s championship attracted close to 100 million viewers, putting it in the same ball park as the National Football League’s Super Bowl, the biggest American TV event.
Sponsors include French luxury brand LVMH’s Louis Vuitton, U.S. payment giant MasterCard and Chinese electronics company Oppo.
(Reporting by Pascale Antonie and Noemie Olive; writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ken Ferris)