Image credit: LVP Flickr / Hara Amorós
Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco breaks down the recent news and rumours involving the Spanish League of Legends Superliga, which is hotting up for 2022. We also get the views of British pro player Kasing, someone who has played in both the UK and Spanish leagues.
Viva España. I wrote a piece back in 2017 when the Superliga was king of LoL’s European leagues: Why is Spanish League of Legends so popular and what can the UK learn from it?
The UK did try to learn from it. LVP, the organisers of the Superliga, came across to the UK to try and lift UK LoL, launching the Forge of Champions and UKLC as part of a three-year partnership with Riot Games, with millions of pounds in investment going into the project.
Soon after, the NLC was announced, a Northern Europe tournament featuring teams from the UK and Nordics. A few weeks ago, the mid-tier UKLC was scrapped and NLC organising duties were passed to Freaks 4U, leaving UK LoL up in the air.
Meanwhile, Spanish League of Legends and other European Regional Leagues (ERLs) have seen renewed interest from LoL esports fans. France has emerged as the dominant ERL, and the NLC is towards the bottom of the pack:
This week, a series of announcements could see the Spanish Superliga compete more closely with France. I’m not saying it will overtake it, but with new big names joining the league, it will no doubt give it a lift.
Firstly, professional footballer Gerard Piqué, who plays as a defender for Barcelona, has bought into the league under his Kosmos business, with huge Spanish influencer and former host, Ibai, who is on board as co-owner. Between them, they have more than 25m followers on Twitter alone.
They acquired Astralis’ Stormbringers academy team, who recently qualified for the 2022 Spring Superliga.
Then today, Fnatic have announced they will also be entering the 2022 Superliga, thanks to a partnership with Team Queso.
As a long-time advocate of UK League of Legends, it’s sad for me to see Fnatic Rising leave the NLC. To have such a big name in esports leave our scene, it will no doubt have an impact on the league’s viewership, but it’s understandable why Fnatic would leave for a more popular ERL, and I wish them well there.
There are things to look forward to here. Astralis will also be stepping in to the NLC, with Astralis Talent competing in the UK/Nordics competition from January 2022, and we still of course have the UK’s homegrown success story Excel Esports in the NLC too. There’s more info on the NLC changes and ‘calibration phase’ here.
But, going back to Spain again. There could be more exciting moves on the horizon.
There are rumours that Barcelona will compete in the Super League with S2V Esports in 2022, and that fellow Spanish football club Sevilla could join them, though Esports News UK understands there is little substance to this rumour.
Spanish basketball club Bilbao have also been linked with a move to the Superliga.
All the announcements have got fans and personalities alike rather excited. A copypasta has been going around on Twitter, with British pro players Deadly (Excel Esports) and Kasing (Giants Gaming, who recently won the Superliga), as well as hosts like Sjokz and others getting involved:
Esports News UK reached out to Kasing and Deadly for their comments. As players who have performed in both the UK and Spanish scenes, I was interested in hearing their thoughts on the two.
Kasing said: “To be honest I think it’s mainly broken down to some core problems in the UK, even such as marketability and viewership. The league barely gets attention and recognition compared to other leagues which are thriving due to more publicity and hype around it.
“Even though the UK and Nordics merged, it still feels like the worse league to play in just because of the basic numbers of viewers and publicity that this league generates.”
Spain has produced solid talent in League of Legends, from xPeke to G2 Carlos, Mithy to current players Razork and Elyoya, both of whom came from the Superliga, and others. Elyoya recently won the Summer 2021 LEC with Mad Lions.
Dot Esports reported earlier this year that a limit of two LEC academy teams for each regional league has been approved, and that LEC teams will no longer have to field an academy team.
The Spanish Superliga already has Mad Lions Madrid and G2 Arctic in there, and now with Fnatic joining, there are three LEC academy sides in the league.
More changes are coming. Trusted sources have told Esports News UK that ‘big changes’ to the ERLs (including rule changes) will be announced after the EU Masters, sorry the Amazon European Masters, a tournament which is taking place right now.
The Superliga has always been its own beast. Hell, it even has its own League of Legends sticker album with Panini.
Whether it can eclipse the heights of the French LFL is another matter. French side Karmine Corp have been making waves in esports this year, having won the Spring 2021 EU Masters with British player xMatty, and their top-laner Adam later transferring to Fnatic and qualifying for Worlds.
One thing is for sure: La SuperLiga el año que viene va a ser la hostia.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.