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World-Leading At-Home Production for Riot Games' League of Legends Finals

17/11/2019

Live from Paris: World-leading remote production for Riot Games' League of Legends Finals By Fergal Ringrose, Editorial Director, Europe

Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 17:04

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The Finals of Riot Games' 2019 League of Legends World Championship were held on Sunday (10 November) at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, with the winning Chinese FunPlus Phoenix team lifting the Summoner's Cup as 2019 World Champions and taking home more than US $2 million in prize money.

Riot Games chief executive Nicolo Laurent described the Finals as the biggest event in the history of esports, with an estimated 100 million people watching around the world.

The 2019 League of Legends World Championship is the ninth year for the tournament, arising from the competitive multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game developed by Riot Games. The Championship was held in Berlin, Madrid and Paris, with 24 teams from 13 regions competing for the tournament, having qualified from regionals circuits in China, Europe, North America, South Korea and South East Asia. More than 15,000 esports fans packed into the AccorHotels Arena to see the Finals match live last Sunday.

Technical complexity for the Finals is ramped up each year by the demands of the in-venue Opening Ceremony. In 2017 Riot Games deployed a virtual dragon flying through Beijing National Stadium.

LA is handling the World Feed and it is then given to our partners to add their own graphics and voice it themselves in their own language. Our show is streamed live in 19 different languages and we have over 40 distribution partners.

Last year AR was factored into the Opening Ceremony at Incheon Munhak Stadium in South Korea, allowing in-game band K/DA to be virtually inserted onstage into the opening musical performance alongside Madison Beer, Miyeon and Soyeon of (G)I-DLE, and Jaira Burns.

This year's Opening Ceremony featured hip-hop collective True Damage, along with League of Legends characters Qiyana, Akali, Senna, Ekko and Yasuo. The show featured four Holonets from Kaleida, giant hanging fine metal meshes that are highly reflective and also see-through giving the effect of being a hologram.

The meshes were positioned on either side of the stage, so the audience could see in front of and behind the talent on stage - with eight 4K screens positioned all around, each individually controlled.

The losing G2 Esports team from Berlin during the Finals. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

The Riot Games team has over the last few years evolved what may be the most sophisticated at-home production model in the world, seeking to produce the world feed show from its studio in Los Angeles no matter where its tournament event is being staged - and in the process dramatically reducing the number of trucks and production people required on-site.

This year, in addition to the world feed being produced in LA, the English language show was produced at Riot's European headquarters facility in Berlin. So, for 2019, the League of Legends World Finals featured not one but two remote productions.

And in the heat of battle, Riot Games' Esports Technology Group decided to innovate with the new JPEG XS compression format - realising what is probably the first trans-Atlantic remote production undertaken using JPEG XS.

All of which meant the Finals were produced and sent to 40 distribution partners around the globe with just one OB truck on-site at the Accor Hotels Arena in Paris. That was NEP Sweden's UHD 1, used to cut the Opening Ceremony segment of the show, the in-venue screens production and to provide infrastructure for comms, signal distribution and some camera shading.

NEP Sweden combined with fellow NEP company Creative Technology (CT) to provide the audio infrastructure for both broadcast and in-venue, built around a Riedel Mediornet network with 280 ports and Riedel Bolero comms with around 70 beltpacks. Creative Technology also provided Roe LED screens and Barco projectors for the in-venue stage show, working closely with Riot's long-time technical production services partner Concom.

At the Arena on Saturday evening NEP Sweden engineer-in-charge Linus Malmborg told SVG Europe, The first part of the show is the Opening Ceremony, which is produced and directed here in this truck. In parallel with that we have an in-house production doing the screen feeds.

Packed Arena in Paris for League of Legends World Finals (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

And then when the Opening Ceremony is over we change to game mode. The producers for the game show will be here, but it will be cut and finalised in LA. That's mainly because all the servers for the observers [the computers providing the video of the game] and all the graphic elements are in LA and so it minimises delay and always keeps quality high. The end product is going out from LA.

The truck is basically a workplace and a huge stage box, which is linked to the huge stage box inside the venue provided by CT. Since this truck is based on Riedel's MediorNet we have extended all over the venue together with CT. Everything is on the same network.

We need to always bear latency in mind, which is why this solution was chosen rather than doing conventional signal distribution out from a hub. There is a fully redundant system here, so if LA goes down or fibre goes down there are game observers picking up here so we could do the show from here, said Malmborg.

Secret sauce: Riot Direct backbone

The core enabler for Riot Games production approach is its own Riot Direct network (the ISP used to service all LoL gameplay) to send feeds from tournament remotes back to the Los Angeles production facility. With multiple terabits of edge capacity, it's a resource they trust and leverage for the most reliable network. Riot sources local ISPs for the
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