With the expansion of its partnership with Riot Games — first established in mid-2020 — Verizon has become the official 5G network service partner for League of Legends and Valorant esports. The partnership is slated to begin in May, coinciding with two major gaming tournaments, the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational and Valorant Masters, both of which will take place in Reykjavik, Iceland’s Laugardalshöll Indoor Sporting Arena.
The move will expand Verizon’s global footprint in esports, while Verizon customers will see discounts on League of Legends in-game purchases through the Verizon Up program.
Verizon has also gotten involved in esports from a slightly different angle, working with professional esports organization Dignitas last year to launch the nation’s first 5G esports training facility, the Verizon 5G Gaming Center in Verizon’s 5G Lab in Los Angeles.
Esports saw incredible growth in 2020, mainly the result of live sporting events going on hold during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, according to Influencer Marketing Hug, there were 272 million occasional viewers and 223 million enthusiasts, leading to an overall esports audience growth of 496 million, or almost half a billion.
Further, Newzoo predicts that by 2023, the annual growth rate of viewers will be approximately 10.4%, and that there will be 295 million eSports enthusiasts, making the total audience 646 million.
More specifically, 23 million viewers tuned in to last year’s Worlds gaming tournament, making it the most-watched esports event of the year, and solidifying it as a