By Hunter Hebenstreit, Contributing Writer

Millions of individuals gathered around the world to view the League of Legends World Championship Finals, where two teams battled for over $5 million on Oct. 31. Over 350 million people around the world viewed the entire League Championship Series (LCS). Even though the LCS has a huge viewership globally, many people would be surprised to find out that professional competitive video games even exist. Known as an “eSport,” League of Legends is growing in popularity around the world and especially on Asbury’s campus.

ESports, according to PC Gamer, describe “competitive tournaments of video games, especially among professional gamers.” ESports already generate over $700 million in revenue annually and are expected to break $1 billion by 2018, according to SuperData Research, an industry intelligence firm. The most popular eSports include DOTA 2 (Defense of the Ancients), Heroes of the Storm, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends.

The largest number of people play, watch and talk about League of Legends, according to numbers from lolesports.com. According to RIOT Games, the creators of League, this free-to-play game has over 100 million monthly players around the world.

At Asbury University, the League of Legends community is thriving, and players enjoy talking about the game, the LCS and playing against and with each other. Sophomore Ian Tan has been playing for five years and is the highest ranked player on Asbury’s campus.

“I think the best thing about League is that every game is played out differently,” Tan said. “It’s familiar but unfamiliar at the same time.”

Sophomore Vinnie Criscione is the vice-president of Asbury University League of Legends, a new club to bring players together.

“We’re hoping that the club can help players feel like part of a community and make it easier for new people to get into the game,” said Criscione.

The club has held several events so far, including tournaments, a viewing party for the LCS Championships and, most recently, an event hosted by the University of Kentucky where the League of Legends clubs from four colleges came together to play.

The League of Legends community is thriving, and players enjoy talking about the game, the LCS and playing against and with each other.

The game has become especially popular on Trustees Guild Hall, and the members of the hall have even created their own team. Senior Alec Davis started playing recently.

“I was hesitant to learn League at first,” said Davis. “Despite the sharp learning curve, I eventually learned how League worked. My hall mates definitely gave me the support and advice I needed most — they were a huge incentive to continue playing.”

The 2016 LCS season brought more viewers and offered more prize money than ever before. The eSports industry continues to grow and does not show signs of slowing anytime soon. With a new club started here at Asbury, Criscione said now is a perfect opportunity for people to jump in and see what it is all about.

“You’re never too old for League of Legends,” he said.