Ask Riot

Ask a question about League or Riot, and we’ll try to answer it. Answers go live every other Thursday at 1:30 pm (PT)

What do you want to know?

Something went wrong. Try asking again.

Thank you for submitting a question!

Next Article


Explaining how we pick where NA LCS Finals will be held and how we select our roadshow venues.

Hi NA LCS fans – I’m Chris “RiotChopper” Hopper, and I’m the new Head of Esports for North America. I started working at Riot Games in 2012 on the development of the NA LCS and EU LCS, so coming back to focus on North America is a bit of a homecoming for me.

One of the areas of focus for NA Esports in 2018 and beyond is to be more open and transparent with the community, so I’m here to introduce a new series called Quick Notes. Much like Meddler’s posts, we’ll deep dive into topics that the community wants to know more about, discuss work in progress, and share our decision-making process.  

For our first post, I’m going to talk about how we pick where NA LCS Finals will be heldand how we select our roadshow venues. I’ll answer some of the community questions raised after the recent Travis Talks video and ESPN article, including why it can take a while to announce Finals info and explain what we are doing to improve.


When we start narrowing down our potential Finals locations, we consider a lot of factors for our host city including:

  • New cities/regions around North America (have we been there before?)
  • Player density (are there a bunch of esports and League of Legends players there? are the venues sizes available in the area relative to the player population?)
  • Accessibility (is the location easy to travel to?)
  • Fan and pro accommodations (transportation, ease of travel to venue, availability of places to stay, etc)
  • Venue availability (are there any venues in the city that aren’t booked for our Finals weekend?)


Once we’ve identified potential host cities, we start looking at venue options. This primarily consists of a giant checklist of venue infrastructure requirements (security, internet, concessions and merch, security, etc), all of which typically require back-and-forth conversation with each venue to clarify if they meet our needs.

Hosting an esports event can be a stressful and intensive undertaking for venues. We often need to hold our chosen venues for load-in, rehearsal, the show itself, and tear-down for 5 or 6 days in contrast to a concert that can be in and out within 24 hours. We need venues that are flexible and willing to work with us over an extended timeline – equally, they must be physically and technologically suited for our kind of show, offer good screen visibility from a majority of seats, have the right kind of acoustics, have room for pro-player practice rooms, offer security for our offline servers and tournament realm, show willingness to work with cosplay attendees, the list goes on and on.


Once we have gone through the checklist and narrowed potential venues, we begin to look at what each venue can offer and how they can add to the fan experience. In the case of the Fillmore, it’s an amazing event space that combines an iconic history with the culture of Miami Beach, all within one of the busiest and most experienced show venues in the South.

While the Fillmore may be smaller than some of our previous Spring Finals venues, we believe that might actually be of benefit as we plan for future events. By opening ourselves to considering some of these smaller venues (like the Fillmore), we unlock a lot more unique options, which allows us to reach a broader geographic audience as well as test out shows in different venue styles for Spring Finals. Additionally, the smaller venues offer a different fan experience for those in attendance and those online; the fans will be closer to the action and feel more a part of the show, and those at home should notice that as well. It’s definitely going to be a more intimate show at Spring Finals moving forward in contrast to Summer Finals where we will look primarily at the bigger venues in North America, will be more about the excitement that comes from a larger crowd.


The challenge we face here is that we don’t feel comfortable announcing locations without signed contracts. The last thing we want to do is announce that we’re going to a city and then not be able to go after players have made commitments (hotels, flights, time off, etc) because we can’t finalize negotiations with the venue. Nailing down these venues is often the culmination of a full year’s worth (if not more) of scouting, recon, and discussion with the venue, and it’s not until fairly late in the process that both sides are locked into the event.

All of that said, we know this an area that we have to get better at. While trying to minimize player pain, we’ve inadvertently caused it for many of our fans; we know that by announcing so late some players may miss their chance to make plans to be part of Finals. Our first opportunity to improve will be with Summer Finals, and I can promise two things right now:

  • Summer Finals won’t be at the NA LCS studio
  • You’ll know the dates and location before the Summer Split begins on June 16 (if not sooner)

Looking towards 2019 and beyond, we’re looking to lock in venues at least a year in advance so that we can announce them and put tickets on sale as early as possible.


Once we have secured the venue, we begin working on ticketing. First, we need to finalize our production plans, set design, and seat kills (the seats with blocked views, or are behind the stage, etc). Next, we’ll work with our ticket vendor for our venue to confirm our ticketing strategy, including how players can buy tickets (phone, website, box office), ticket buying order (random lottery or first arrival), on-sale dates and times, and pricing. Then, the ticket vendor will input all the event information into their system and prepare a tickets event landing page. After the page is ready, we’ll do one final check to make sure everything is correct before sharing the details with the fans.

We’ll be confirming all ticket details for the upcoming Spring Finals on February 12 on Lolesports. Additionally, we’ll be releasing all Finals tickets on a single date rather than over multiple dates in order to allow as many fans as possible to get a seat at Finals as early as possible.

This wraps up our first Quick Notes post. We hope this post helps you better understand what it takes to make Finals happen and the steps we’re taking to improve. I’ll be around answering your questions about Finals weekend or NA esports, ask away on the comments below, reddit, or Twitter.

Chris “RiotChopper” Hopper is the Head of Esports for North America. He joined Riot Games in 2012 to work on the development of the NA LCS and EU LCS before spending several years leading a team focused on the global development and international operations of competitive League of Legends. Chopper is a decent poker player, sports fanatic who wins (almost) every Fantasy League among the Riot esports team, and always cheers for his alma mater, Duke. Questions about NA esports or want to chat about Magic: The Gathering? Reach out to him on Twitter via @RiotChopper.

Next Article

/dev diary: Surviving in Noxus