Troika Media Group and Devlin Design Group teamed up to create a dynamic new broadcast center for Riot Games’ League of Legends League Championship Series (LCS), including an ultra-modern broadcast graphics package and a sleek and scalable set.
League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena video game, is the world’s most-watched esport. The League Championship Series is North America’s largest professional esports league, including such teams as 1000 Thieves, Cloud9, Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses. While fans could come to the arena to watch matches live in non-COVID times, millions of people watch the LCS via live streams on Twitch, YouTube and lolesports.com.
Riot’s goal for the project was to raise competitive gaming and the fan experience to new levels. As esports continues to attract a large audience and big brand sponsors, Troika’s design needed to capture the league’s spirit while pushing the boundaries of a traditional sports broadcast.
“If you look at their key demo, which is 16-39 year olds, they tend to be hip and into modern things, and they want their brand to reflect that,” said Josh Lynne, creative director at Troika. “It was all based on this idea of making everything scalable and really being able to transition between putting the brand and the players forward. So we crafted a multidimensional package that they could sculpt however they want to tell the story they want to tell.”
To that end, the graphics had to scale for Devlin’s in-house set as well as for LCS’ various streaming packages. The graphics had to be able to scale down to viewers’ phones as well as up to their 55” ultra-high definition 4K TVs. Throughout the package, the agency incorporated LCS’ overall look, including the league’s signature color of vinca, a shade of periwinkle.
Diving in even more deeply, Troika also created graphics for each LCS team in that team’s colors.
The graphics are used for an array of on-air activities, including commentating and analyzing matches, presenting statistics—and esports are inherently a stat-heavy activity—and telling player and team stories.
Devlin Design Group’s corresponding broadcast center also needed to be highly flexible as well as future-proofed. Riot planned to use it under COVID restrictions as well as later when audiences return to arenas. Riot didn’t want a traditional sports set on which talent sits behind a desk and chats and points to screen, but instead walks around the set to keep the energy high. It also was important to Riot that the whole space—which included high ceilings—be incorporated.
“Riot said in the design brief that they wanted different platform levels and they made sure the set had a lot of emphasis on verticality and scale—they wanted this thing big,” said Kartik Dakshinamoothy, vice president and scenic design director, Devlin Design Group. “Post- pandemic, once the audience comes back into the studio, they said they wanted to make a huge splash, so we needed to make sure the set was bigger than life and would blow the fans away.”
“They also said they did not want this to look like a typical sports set,” said Diane Fiolek, vice president and creative services, Devlin Design Group. “This is esports so we didn’t have to look that way. We could just really run with it.”
The result is a set that offers many ways to alter its look. Several sizes of LED screens are available across the back walls to display gameplay, graphics, interviews and more.
“They wanted this design to incorporate LEDs in such a way that they are almost viewed as set extensions. We also incorporated a green screen to the right of the set. In the future, they are also planning to incorporate mixed and augmented reality so we had to consider that as well,” said Dakshinamoothy.
The set’s lighting also can be changed in many different ways, totally altering its look, and features can be moved around as needed. Devlin also displayed LCS’ main sponsor, State Farm Insurance, across the top of the set.
In the middle is what Devlin refers to as a “bar”—not a desk or a couch—in the shape of the “C” in “LCS.” There, talent, analysts and commentators can gather to talk about the game ahead or the match that was just played in a casual and energetic fashion. Handheld and jib cameras capture the action to keep it all feeling fluid and natural.
“We kept everything open in the center and it’s not meant to be shot from one direction,” said Dakshinamoothy. “They can shoot from any angle and because of all those interesting elements, there will be something to keep the viewers’ attention.”
“We’re so excited to finally be able to share this new design and State Farm Analyst Desk with our fans,” Justin Restaino, creative technology producer for the LCS, said in a statement. “It’s beautiful and perfectly captures the spirit and new branding of the LCS, but it also achieves the flexibility and function needed for both in-person and remote broadcasts, as we gradually ease back into live events.”