It would appear that in Korea, League of Legends is retaking its throne as the most played game competitive or otherwise, overcoming the likes of PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Overwatch. League of Legends has always had a fierce scene with a thriving competitive scene in South Korea, putting up championship teams over many years. However, stiff competition from other games had knocked it down a peg worldwide for some time. It appears League of Legends is past the hump and proving its staying power.
On October 19, 2018, it was Kwanghee “Waxangel” Woo of TeamLiquid.net fame that went to his Twitter to show the surprising bit of data. Coming from PC Bang, a Korean site which tracks player activity in the country, League of Legends found its way to an impressive 35+% playrate among the overall gaming activity. According to Waxangel, this is a figure not seen by League of Legends in the region since the days before Overwatch and PUBG’s release.
LoL at 35% PC bang share today, almost recovering to pre-OW and PUBG levels. Thanks for playing, other developers. https://t.co/BHP1qk2fCy
— Kwanghee Woo (@SaintSnorlax) October 19, 2018
Regardless of what you make of it, to see League of Legends rise up so far over its closest competitor (PUBG at a little under 20%) is notable to say the least. It shows the strength of the game in the region even against a vast test of time. Even so, there may be other factors involved.
Waxangel’s note of League of Legends rising to it’s pre-Overwatch and PUBG hype bears some consideration of the factors involved with these games. Why are Overwatch or PUBG allegedly falling off in the Korean scene? Or why is League of Legends so strong. There are a number of factors to consider.
The first is activity in the scene. It’s likely no coincidence that League of Legends sees a bump in playerbase as the LoL Worlds tournament is happening, and as the League of Legends season comes a close in-game. The former has a lot of fans hyped to follow their favorite teams and pursue the moves and comps that they see teams like KT Rolster employ.
Meanwhile, the end of the season means players are scrambling to get the best rank they can locked in for rewards that come with it. This year, the big 2018 Season End reward features Victorious Orianna. Players who lock in Gold rank before November 8 will be able to twirl with the lavish and deadly robot and her fashionable new skin. No doubt, this and other rewards have had a hand in boosting League of Legends’ numbers as Season 8 draws to a close.
This might speak to the boost for League of Legends in Korea, but what does that have to do with the other two games. Well, conversely, PUBG and Overwatch may be taking a step back from League of Legends as they enter a dry season. PUBG has been working with Bluehole in Korea to raise hype for the game, but with Fortnite blowing up the market at every turn around most of the world, it may be simply tough competition and genre dilution keeping PUBG from reaching the heights it had when it was the only Battle Royale on the block. Add this to the fact that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 literally just launched with its own worthwhile Battle Royale Blackout mode and it speaks well to why PUBG probably isn’t performing as strongly.
As for Overwatch, the issue might be more cyclical. The game is in the off-season of esports and its only major event is happening across the ocean in the States. Blizzcon is great and all, but does it matter to Koreans as much as Overwatch League? Maybe the game will see a boost around Blizzcon time, but until Season 2 comes out and Seoul Dynasty is back in action, eyes are probably going to remain on League of Legends’s much more currently active scene.
At the end of it all, League of Legends is also just a powerhouse of a game. Between it and Dota 2, League has shown itself to have staying power in a lot of regions. Overwatch and PUBG likely aren’t going away anytime soon, but for now it would appear that Korean players have chosen League to rule the roost of their collective play time.
(Featured Image by Riot Games)
TJ Denzer is a video game journalist and Co-Editor-in-Chief at Daily Esports with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he’s not entrenched in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his wife, he’s putting time into local beer breweries and searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people.