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
been rivaled 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.
Riot Games has partnered with performers before to bring hype and music to its international events, but 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 campaign, the music icon assumed the role of “President” of Riot Games 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, 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 front of a sold-out Chase Center in San Francisco and 5M+ streamers, the Worlds opening ceremony delivered on the weeks-long hype campaign. Split into three “acts”, each performer took the stage to perform their Riot-sponsored song: Edda Hayes performed “The Call,” Jackson Wang “Fire to the Fuse,” with Lil Nas X closing things out with “Star Walkin’ – where he was raised into the air by the hand of a giant mech while the Summoner’s Cup championship trophy floated around him. Talk about rising to the occasion.
Although his role at the company carried no real political weight, Lil Nas X’s “presidency” brought new attention to Riot. In the ongoing battle for eyeballs, the highly integrated campaign and strategic placement of LNX at the helm of the global company was the catalyst that allowed for the continued promotion of the “STAR WALKIN” and “FIRE TO THE FUSE” musical anthems, the World’s competition, the and the company itself.
The success of the campaign would not have been possible without all of the supporting assets that drove the narrative of the hype campaign leading into the performance. Partnering with an “outsider” in the very ‘pack mentality’ gaming fan base was a huge risk, and each asset strategically worked to assure Riot fans that Lil Nas X would handle the task of carrying that weight while also bringing in new, outside attention from a diversified audience.
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.