The League of Legends World Championship – the annual professional League of Legends championship tournament hosted by Riot Games – is a spectacle. At the culmination of the season, the best teams from across the globe come together to compete for the champion title, a 70-pound Tiffany & Co. Summoner's Cup trophy, and a multi-million-dollar championship prize. It is by far the biggest annual competitive gaming event in the world, drawing millions of viewers.
While the main draw of Worlds is the esports competition, in recent years that has often been overshadowed by the opening ceremony – a musical performance with Superbowl-level production value – which takes place before the final match.
This past year, Riot Games teamed up with one of the biggest pop music stars in the world – Lil Nas X – to create the competition's anthem and star in the opening ceremony, as well as one of the biggest K-pop stars in the world, Jackson Wang, to release an exclusive song titled “Fire to the Fuse” and perform it during the opening ceremony. The question then became: how do we translate this performance, and its promotion, onto social?
Prior to the #Worlds2022 event, we ran a three-week long hype campaign aimed to build awareness—and momentum—leading up to the Opening Ceremony. While Riot has partnered with performers before to bring hype and music to its international events, the company’s collaboration with Lil Nas X was the first time a performer was integrated heavily into the promotion and marketing for the event and the game itself. And what better way to integrate a musical partner than launching them directly to the top?
In a multi-week hype campaign, the music icon assumed the role of “President” of Riot where he enacted a series of sweeping changes to the company. Driven through a series of skits, Lil Nas “X-ecutive’s” changes ranged from the comedic of replacing employee’s office ringtones with his 2022 Worlds anthem “STAR WALKIN’”, to tangible in-game influences including helping Riot create and launch a new skin for the newest LoL Champion, K’sante.
As all good things must come to an end, a week before the event President Lil Nas X “resigned” from his role in order to devote more time to preparing for his upcoming performance. However, in his last act as head honcho, he introduced the Opening Ceremony’s supporting musical guests including Edda Hayes and K-pop megastar Jackson Wang –– who also created an original theme song “Fire to the Fuse” for the video game’s new Empyrean skin line. In his absence, we continued to create anticipation by releasing a series of thematic countdowns and first-looks.
In the build-up to the event, the focus became anticipation and amplification. Championing preparation, we partnered with Riot and Wang to create a series of short-form videos featuring behind-the-scenes content to promote the highly-anticipated debut performance of his song. What better way to promote a song called “Fire to the Fuse” than to do a transition video revealing Wang’s highly anticipated opening ceremony outfit? By having this video concept prepared in advance, we were able to strategically release the asset just after Wang’s electric performance, setting social ablaze.
During the event itself, our strategy became to craft assets and copy that doubled down on targeting those most engaged with the event – the robust League of Legends community. Traditional beats such as performance cutdowns, exclusive behind the scenes images and fan reshares were crafted to speak specifically to insider game knowledge, like referencing in-game attributes such as skin lines.
After the fanfare of the event – which many dubbed to be “the best Worlds finale of all time” – we were able to create a long engagement tail by utilizing social listening to inform our sustained creative concepts. While most conversation after a large event typically dies off within a day or two, our content remained highly engaged. By leaning into these poppy moments – such as Jackson Wang’s performance – we were able to use a mix of show footage and custom capture to create a series of custom assets that championed the fans and celebrated the overall World’s spectacle.
In front of a sold-out Chase Center in San Francisco and 5M+ streamers, the Worlds opening ceremony delivered on the weeks-long hype campaign. Worlds is one of esports biggest events; take it from the more than 93K Tweet mentions alone within the campaign. The hashtag #Worlds2022 accumulated over 14M impressions, and reached 77.1K unique profiles; setting the stage to be the most-talked about live esports event within that window.
Over the course of the Worlds campaign, our owned content garnered over 16M organic impressions. The Jackson Wang “Set Fire To The Fuse” Instagram Reel alone reached over 5.7M accounts—over 5x the post average—and resulted in an average watch time of 12 seconds. In addition to being one was one of the highest performing social assets of Riot Game Music’s Worlds campaign, the transition video resonated with our target audience and drove popularity of the track, where it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot Trending Songs the following week. Lil Nas X also stole the show, with his presidential campaign Instagram Reel accumulating a reach of more than 1.5M. It currently has over 1.4M views—one of the top-performing Reels on the Riot Games Music account to-date.
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