In 1898, Nikola Tesla demonstrated the first remote control robot using radio at Madison Square Garden. The first televised shown in color boxing match took place at the Garden in 1954 when Joey Giardello knocked out Willie Tory in the seventh round. On May 19th, 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang her famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy live at Madison Square Garden.
These are just a few of the notable firsts had at the world famous Madison Square Garden located in the borough of Manhattan, New York. Adding to that long list most recently is an event that stands out from previous events at the Garden – the semifinals of the 2016 League Of Legends World Championship.
It was only a year ago, in August of 2015, when Riot Games announced their first MSG held event for the North American LCS Summer finals, where Counter Logic Gaming took home the first place trophy after defeating Team SoloMid. I had the privilege of attending that two day event with three close friends. It was my first time attending a LCS match, and I was blown away at the sheer amount of people there.
Outside the Garden, in a city that never sleeps, everything halted as people going about their daily lives observed the fans and cosplayers lined up and ready for the days matches. Inside the Garden, security and ushers stopped fans to ask about the event, mesmerized by the matches taking place on the big screen. The 2015 NA LCS summer finals were surreal. However, that event does not even come close to what took place over the weekend at MSG.
I woke up at 6:15 AM in order to catch my bus into NYC with my brother. At the station is was very clear we were not the only League Of Legends fans in Boston. Around us people whispered predictions for the first day matches and shared previous gaming experiences. The drive there was not bad – around 4 hours with the infamous NYC traffic. Arriving at our hotel we met up with a friend of ours and got everything ready for the night.
Walking into the Garden fans filled the front lobby – taking pictures with cosplayers, purchasing souvenirs, and enjoying their time with friends. One of the most pleasantly shocking observation I had was the diversity of the crowd. When many think of a video game or eSport event, they picture a very specific group of people. That is, the typical young and nerdy male gamer. This was very clearly not the case for the semifinals. Attending the event were all genders of all age groups. I even remember sitting near a gentleman that looked to be in his late 40s during the H2K match on Saturday.
As the first set of matches were ready to begin the crowd funneled their way to their seats. Unlike the NALCS summer finals, nearly every seat in the stadium was taken. That is over 18,000 fans packed and ready to watch the semifinals live. And you could hear them. Through every intense play 18,000 people erupted in excitement. Fans chanted the names of their favorite player or team. The audience was very much alive – similar to any other sport game I have been to, maybe even more so then some. This held true for not only the SKT vs. ROX series, but also the day after when H2K played SSG.
As not only a writer for the industry but an avid fan the League of Legends semifinals were eye opening. There are not many sports in the world that can connect such a diverse group of people. The group of friends sitting next to us did not speak much English, however smiles came on their faces as my friend began chanting “TSM! TSM! TSM!” against the crowd’s SKT chant. League Of Legends is not the perfect eSport. We do not have the best community at times. We are, however, showing the world what eSports and our fans are about.