Last weekend, the world’s most famous pro gamer, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, secured his fourth-place finish. League of Legends At the World Championships, his team T1 defeated rivals Weibo Gaming in front of a home crowd at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. It was an impressive performance but, as always, the most exciting part of the experience happened before the match started.
The opening ceremony of Worlds is a chance for developer Riot Games to showcase cutting-edge technology with performances from some of the biggest names in music. This time, the event featured K-pop stars Newzines and some impressive augmented reality. But the biggest star was also the biggest: a 110-meter-tall LED display.
“By using that surface, we’re aiming to create a really immersive environment,” says Cary Dunn, Riot’s creative director for global esports. “So it’s not just about portraying information. It’s about making the audience feel like they’ve been transported.”
The 13-minute long ceremony (which you can watch above) was divided into a few different segments. It started with a prerecorded cinematic featuring a union The player made his way from playing the game in his bedroom to reaching the world stage through a portal. From there, the musical aspect began with Heartsteel – a newly formed virtual boy band composed of alternate versions of popular union character. At first, there were actual singers and rappers performing the song “Paranoia”. Then, a (virtual) car crashed into the giant screen, causing it to shatter, while AR versions of the group appeared on stage.
This was a chance for Riot to use techniques it had already used. For example, at the inaugural ceremony in 2021, the entire performance was a cinematic of Imagine Dragons performing on an elaborate set as in-person events were not possible at the time. A year ago, in Shanghai, virtual K-pop band K/DA graced the stage via AR. “We’re kind of remixing [these ideas] And applying them in different ways,’ says Dunn.
The difference this time was the giant display, which wrapped around the stage and allowed Riot to create a solid virtual backdrop. The platform itself was very simple; There wasn’t much to it other than a few rocks studded around the base of the display—which, Riot notes, were hand-carved—which were intended to blur the transition from the real world to the imaginary world on the screen. Because of this, the screen had to do a lot of the heavy lifting to properly display large, detailed fantasy settings. union Universe. “It just creates a sense of realism,” Dunn explains. “It helps us reach the audience and make it feel like it’s not just something that happens on stage., Think of it as a virtual set for shows like this The Mandalorian or upcoming Avatar The Last Airbender, (In completely surprising news, Riot has used that technique in the past as well.)
Last year in San Francisco, Riot used holograms to make it appear as if a giant device was lifting Lil Nas This year also a similar scene was seen but with a change in AR. Heartsteel’s performance was followed by a surprise rendition of “Rise” – a popular world anthem of 2018 – accompanied by a 90-foot tall version. union The character Mordekaiser standing in the crowd. As a detailed ruined landscape was shown on the rear screen, a character on stage fought against an AR villain with some cleverly choreographed dance moves.
Image: Tina Jo/Riot Games
And then came Newzines. K-pop was an interesting choice for an event like Group Worlds; Although they are popular, they are also known for their 90s-style pop and R&B. It’s a far cry from the epic-sounding songs that have accompanied inauguration ceremonies over the years. When you mix those two styles together, you get a track called “Gods”, which closed the show.
“I really enjoyed the process of trying out a new sound, because it was different from the genre of music that our listeners now associate Newgins with,” says Minji of Newjins. “The lyrics began to resonate with me more strongly when I learned about the stories behind them. Through the song, we can feel the intense efforts made by the players union And their competitive spirit, both in the professional scenario and in everyday life, so we tried our best to capture and reflect that same spirit in the song.
“It’s really brought to life in a different way.”
On stage, the band was set against a backdrop of ancient ruins, before the camera zoomed into the sky, revealing a glowing moon. As he sang, the battle of the AR continued, with Mordekaiser ultimately facing defeat in a bright explosion before the two competing teams – and the trophy they were fighting for. For Newzines’ Hanni, it’s the combination of sound and style that makes collaborations like this really work.
“I firmly believe that music and visuals not only complement each other, but go hand in hand,” she explains. “The League of Legends The universe is naturally immersive, but when music comes to support specific elements of it, like champions, the world, or pro players, it’s really brought to life in a different way. And personally, I think the history of collaborations with so many different, amazing artists adds another layer of richness to the listening experience for fans.
As for Dunn, as soon as the event ended, his mind was already focused on the 2024 edition of the Worlds in London next year. “As As soon as last year’s show ended, even after the party, we all started talking to each other,” she says. “How are we going to top this?,