British Columbia

League of Legends spring championship in Vancouver attracts 16K viewers

Thousands of fans have filled Vancouver's Pacific Colliseum this weekend to watch professional video gamers battling for top spot at a League of Legends championship.

Number of worldwide viewers for eSports runs up to the tens of millions

A League of Legends championship game in Vancouver has attracted 16,000 people per day at the Pacific Coliseum. (Lauren McCullough/CBC)

Thousands of screaming fans have filled Vancouver's Pacific Colliseum this weekend to watch professional video gamers battling for top spot at the League of Legends Spring Championship. 

About 16,000 people per day are watching the popular multi-player online game's top players at the arena. 

"It's kind of like watching a football game. It's just fun watching something live," said Florence Kwan, who was at the championship on Saturday and has been playing the game for a couple of years. 

Players with Team Phoenix play at the League of Legends championship in Vancouver. (Lauren McCullough/CBC)

Worldwide viewership for video game championships like these, known as eSports, now rivals the World Series and the NBA Finals

In recent years the eSport craze has captured the attention of Amazon, Google, Red Bull and American Express, among other big-name sponsors. 

Audience member Ryley Melnyk flew to Vancouver from Edmonton, Alberta, to watch the championship.

Melnyk said he was rooting for American team Cloud 9, which was slated to play Team SoloMid for top spot on Sunday.

"I've been playing the game since 2009, so it's been a huge part of my life," Melnyk said.

This was his first time watching the games live.

"It brings people together," he said. "You're not actually playing, but it's the group factor." 
Some fans dressed up as characters from the game. (Lauren McCullough/CBC)

A recent League of Legends Championship Series Summer Finals in Toronto filled the Air Canada Centre there last fall. 

With files from Brenna Rose