The League of Legends European Championship has grown tremendously over the last couple of years since franchising, and it's in large part due to the work done by the content and marketing teams who have crafted a unique and specific product for its fans. When you consume anything LEC, you can feel its connection to the rest of their content, videos, photos, broadcast, etc.
Part of the success lies in the multi-talented staff they have on the broadcast team and their willingness to explore their creative — and vulnerable — side. From their desk segments and podcasts to their commercials, to their Mediocre Rap Battles, to LECtronic, and everything else they do, the LEC broadcast team is putting themselves out there and going above and beyond what has been typical of LoL Esports so far otherwise. Simply put, the LEC is paving the way for League content and esports entertainment.
We spoke with a few of the creators, managers, and publishers of the LEC brand to understand how they put together the product and help unify the team to continuously accomplish their goal.
Monica DinsmoreHead of Publishing, EU Esports at Riot Games
The LEC seems to have a solid brand identity. For instance, the LEC Flickr is much more specific than the LCS Flickr. How intentional was that?
Since the launch of the long term partnership, accompanied by the rebrand from EU LCS to LEC, we have been very deliberate about every creative choice we make in order to reinforce our brand identity, even down to our photography. Images created around match days naturally capture the unique looks of the branded studio, but the creation process also follows specific rules to help the images fit with the brand. Experienced photographers and producers help us deliver that consistent look that you’ve noticed.
Our goal was to be so consistent with our brand and tone of voice that you can easily and instantly recognize LEC simply by the logo or the brand colors. We feel like we’ve accomplished that goal and will continue to reinforce that recognition as we evolve the league and the brand year over year, keeping it fresh but always consistent.
How do you market all of this to so many different cultures? Europe has so many different languages, specific cultural values, and differences, various brands that only exist in certain areas, different preferences, etc. How much work is spent on localization?
The thing that makes this easy for us is that we are all united by our love of League and of EU esports. That’s the common language that connects us to our fans. But you’re right we do have a challenge in Europe with so many different cultures and languages and we make it a priority to try and bring our content to as many fans as possible. We want to make everything we do accessible to European fans, in their own language, and on the platforms they use.
From a broadcast perspective, we leverage relationships with local broadcast partners, providing them with a clean feed that they can cast over in their language. When it comes to Publishing content, we do spend a lot of time working internally and with vendors to localize what we produce. We need to provide a script and a clean version of the piece, as well as and planning ahead so we have enough turnaround time so that localized versions can air at the same time as the original version. This requires foresight and a good amount of resources.
At the moment, we can only provide localization services to our marquee content in a handful of core languages, based on the size of the viewership base. We are constantly looking at ways to expand our offering and evaluating more efficient ways to bring more of our content to fans across Europe.
Margot Le LorierVideo Producer at Riot Games
How long did it take to shoot LECtronic? How did you get the areas secured for the videos?
To shoot "I want the LEC back" in January, we had three days. Two days of production were spent in a house that we rented in Frohnau (North of Berlin). That suburb area was a really great place. We had access to a big house with a garden on the lake (Laure fishing, MediVedi in jumpsuits, etc.), a forest for the opening sequence, and a lot of little roads that weren’t too busy!
We had the car set up on a trailer, carried by another van. I was sitting in a third vehicle with playback monitors, and I could talk to the casters in the car and to my crew via walkie talkie. It was in January - very cold and rainy so it was very challenging to shoot, but luckily it doesn’t show in the final product! Then on the third day my line producer, my DOP, a drone operator, and I went even further away from the city to shoot the drone shots, which you can see in the video.
What were the influences on the music video? Did the previous rap battles have any influence?
Making a music video was always something we joked about between me and the casters. We toyed with the idea for a while. In November 2019, as we were working on preparing the new season, I decided to pitch it officially, including references such as Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, and Carly Rae Jepsen! Backed up by the good performances of the previous musical content such as Sandstorm and the Mediocre Rap Battles, my pitch went through and this was how LECtronic was created! When I announced it to the casters, Drakos’ first reaction was to say that he could maybe rap and write lines, but he wasn’t sure he could actually sing! But overall, they were really excited, especially Vedius who plays guitar in his free time and is interested in writing his own music.
The success of the previous rap battles gave me confidence that this content could resonate well with our audience but the real inspiration for me came from League of Legends directly. Seeing how they created a fake band (K/DA, True Damage, or Pentakill) among the champions of the game, stretching our IP... I thought it was brilliant! The on-air talent team already have their own personas (such as Vedius and Flexius or Chefius, even Quickshot can become Quickstats!), I thought, what if they also had a band?
How did you decide on music, though? It seems somewhat risky since different people have different genre preferences, plus it requires a high level of talent to make something good (which is pretty rare).
For "I want the LEC back," I determined the music style on my own while I was pitching the whole concept of creating a fake pop-rock band amongst the casters. It wasn’t meant to be a serious content, so going into pop, a bit cheesy and corny was part of the joke!
In my content, I like to put the casters into absurd sets, for example, Drakos being overdramatic in the forest, touching a tree was just the kind of visual I had very early on and this helped determine the genre of the track. Pop music was perfect to express the emptiness and boredom of the offseason while taking a drastic turn into an enthusiastic and jumpy chorus with the anticipation of the upcoming start of the season!
Once the project was approved and the casters were on board, Vedius, who likes to play guitar was really into it and he composed a solo to add to the track.
How did you write the song? Did you do it all in-house? Who produced?
I gave two composers (Mehdi Messouci and Alexandre Mazarguil) some references and directions in terms of style and tone of the track. Based on this, they sent three instrumental demo tracks. The casters listened to them and we collectively picked the one we liked the most and that served our intention the best.
Drakos, Vedius, and Ender worked together on writing the lyrics. Once this was done, we asked the composers to make some arrangements and finally, we recorded it in a studio in Berlin.
Zanne WongBrand & Marketing Manager at Riot Games
What other ideas did you have that you nixed? Why? What were the almost stories you brought to life?
I wish my answer was more exciting but we surprisingly don’t nix many ideas! Most of what you think could be too crazy or bizarre are the ones we embrace the most, and with some finetuning, they are brought to life. That philosophy has resulted in our fans’ most beloved pieces yet - LECtronic music videos, Sandstorm Remake, Rap Battles, and our promo videos for the season opener and finals.
How does each separate department of branding work with each other to make sure each different product remains in line with the brand strategy?
While brand work lives predominantly in the Publishing department, I believe that a brand can only truly be successful and feel cohesive if everyone that works on it understands and helps advocate for it.
What’s important to know is how we built the brand. We took what was quintessentially always there for us, for our league, our teams, and our fans, and articulated it. When we developed the LEC, we made it tangible, put it in words, made it real and the values we have today are now something we can collectively strive towards.
It’s not all philosophical, we still have pretty clear workflows and processes — like content reviews, pitching processes, open feedback, brainstorms, approval flows, quality assurance, a lot of learning, and also continuously revisiting our brand propositions — that ensure we, as a team, consistently deliver to our brand strategy.
In sharing all that, we know that we are nowhere near perfect. It is an ongoing learning process for all of us. We have to keep developing and adapting ourselves to ensure that we keep delivering towards our mission which is to become the most engaging league in the world for our fans.
What is the core theme of the LEC’s look? Do you have a name for it? Other than the videos above, the hype videos, etc. feel somewhat thematic in a good way. How do you keep them connected?
The most prevalent theme of our brand is probably our colors. It’s quite unique and immediately recognizable to everyone that knows us and for those that don’t, it’s quite striking and bold, and the hope is that they’ll give us a second look. But I wouldn’t say that there is always a core theme for our look beyond that because while we stay consistent with our brand and its values, we constantly try to adapt to whatever is relevant for current campaigns and narratives.
I guess it’s more of a formula that keeps us somewhat thematic. It’s a combination of our brand strategy (especially our mission, proposition, and values), what is relevant now (narratives), and challenging ourselves (how do we stay relevant?).
In terms of keeping them connected, it is our duty to build a long term narrative for our brand. In other words, while we evaluate individual concepts and components on their own, it is important to ask how it fits within the overarching strategy. When we plan our work, we look at what we did before, we look at what we are doing now and what we would like to do in the future. That and you also need to remember to take a step back and understand how it all looks like when seen together because that to some extent equates to impact. It’s also just good exercise because it helps you apply yourself better at work and helps us as a brand avoid stagnation or over-deviation.
Images by Riot Games
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