No matter which game title you follow, each new esports season usually heralds a rebranding. New color palettes, new theme songs, and of course, new faces on the scene collectively keeps things fresh for viewers.
In the thick of competition this year, China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) did something out of the ordinary — they chose to rebrand just before the 2021 Summer Playoffs started.
The former orange “Time to Conquer All” theme that mirrored the blazing heat during the 2021 LPL Summer Split turned into something even more vibrant in light of the esports league’s 10th year anniversary.
Speaking to ONE Esports, Riot Games and league runners TJ Sports give an insight look behind this bold rebranding move.
Why rebranding an esports league is important
After back-to-back World Championship feats by Invictus Gaming in 2018 and FunPlus Phoenix in 2019, the LPL has been gaining more attention from the global audience.
This is in addition to its already huge domestic market. High end brands like Christian Dior have partnered with pro players like Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo, while most recently, Marvel chose to collaborate with FunPlus Phoenix to produce cool new merchandise.
Since the LPL celebrated its 10th year anniversary during summer, it was important to the esports league to reform the way they communicated to fans and “create a bold identity for the next decade and beyond”.
“Crazy Is Our Game”: LPL is where Chinese culture meets esports
Since the LPL was officially established in 2013, there’s a strong perception from LoL esports fans that the region’s playstyle is overtly aggressive, where pro players constantly skirmish and team fight throughout the game.
However, this doesn’t fully encapsulate what the esports league is truly about.
With the new “Crazy Is Our Game” rebrand, the campaign aimed to bring out the true LPL spirit, which according to the organizers is about “breaking the mold to reach the impossible”.
Weaving in the spirit of Chinese culture where the dragon represents strength, good luck, and fearlessness, the league has also embodied the Dragon Soul from Summoner’s Rift. Specifically, two themes, tension and eruption, were integrated into the “Crazy Is Our Game” visual system.
Even the redesigned trophy by Tiffany and Co conveys this deep symbolic meaning as its handles were intricately sculpted into two silver dragons.
Putting it all together, from design, to assets, to products
Rebranding an esports league requires a lot of work. Every single visual aspect of the product has to be updated, from marketing assets, broadcasting assets, offline activities, merchandise, as well as licensed products.
In the case of “Crazy Is Our Game”, a campaign that fuses traditional Chinese culture, its colors and strokes were particularly important.
Red and blue, which indicate the two sides of Summoner’s Rift, were chosen to “represent the energy of the LPL and the spirit of opposition”.
Additionally, the graphic style itself was heavily influenced by traditional Chinese ink drawings, where edges are blurred as the colors bleed into each other in gradients.
What’s more, the five elements — metal, wood, water, fire, and earth — based on the concept of Wuxing in ancient Chinese philosophy, were incorporated into broadcast visuals to showcase the following principles:
- Strategize and collaborate in early stages
- Dare to challenge even in tough situations
- Fierce laning
- Aggressive team fights
- Progress to success
Working with DesignStudio, an agency that worked with Champions League, Premier League, and the LEC on rebranding projects, the LPL also deployed the use of a smart Interactive Visual Broadcast System, the first esports league to do so to ensure consistency at every minute of broadcast.
Follow the official Twitter account of the LPL to keep up with the latest updates as we look forward to a new 2022 season.