The hardship of having a true connection with an esports team is very real and is something most esports fans either feel or have gone through. Esports fans, at least the majority, support players and not teams.
If you look at it objectively, it makes total sense. You aren't born supporting an esports team as it happens in football or other traditional sports all over Europe.
It's also not like you can support your local esports teams, as it's culturally what happens in countries such as Germany, Spain, and England, regarding football, as most likely there isn't one.
This means that the passion of esports fans is not as intense as in traditional sports, for the good and the bad. Well, that's at least in most cases, as some teams have been able to capture that passion and in doing so are sparking a change in the esports scene.
KCorp and MAD Lions KOI are at the centre of that change, and their rivalry can benefit not only the LEC but the entire esports scene. However, it can also introduce some bad habits of traditional sports that no one wants to see in the esports scene.
So let's understand how the KCorp and MAD Lions KOI rivalry can change the esports scene.
A traditional sports rivalry but in esports
Esports is full of historic rivalries, you have the Telecom Wars between KT and T1, the "El Classico" of G2 vs Fnatic, Gen.G vs. T1, OpTiC vs FaZe, and some now-forgotten rivalries like Fnatic vs NIP.
All of these rivalries are unique and helped elevate the esports scene to new heights. However, none of them had so much passion involved or was able to create a level of excitement that comes even close to the KCorp and MAD Lions KOI rivalry.
These two teams have two of the most passionate esports fan bases in the world. Furthermore, they represent the two biggest LoL esports communities in Europe, the French and Spanish communities, which of course are bitter rivals.
Oh, and both organizations were founded by two of the biggest content creators in the world, Kameto and Ibai.
All of these things explain why the atmosphere when they play is so unique, especially in the esports world. A KCorp vs MAD Lions KOI match feels like a Champions League final between Liverpool and United or Inter and Milan.
You can hear the fans cheering their team in the stands, and you can feel the passion in the arena, unlike any other LoL rivalry. Furthermore, you can feel how much that game means to them, even if it's just a regular season game with pretty much no stakes involved.
They make you care about the game, even if you don't support any of the teams. The fans, and the rivalry between these two teams and countries, inject excitement into the game and show what a true connection between esports fans and an organisation feels and looks like.
How rivalries like this are crucial for the esports scene
Having rivalries that are so important and so big that every fan feels the need to tune in to the match, is crucial for the long-term success of a league.
Take the Premier League for example. A Newcastle vs Brighton will provide you with some great and entertaining football, but not everyone will tune in to see that match.
However, a Man United Vs Liverpool will be watched by people from all around the world, similar to a Man United vs Man City, or a Chelsea vs Tottenham. These games make the Premier League special and bring more eyes to the product.
The KCorp and MAD Lions KOI rivalry does the same but for the LEC. A special buzz is created around that match, fans, even those who don't support any of the teams, get excited about it and invested in the outcome.
Add to it the fact that both teams have the largest and most passionate fan bases in all of Europe, and you get exciting matches, a great atmosphere in the arena, and above all a lot of eyes on the product.
According to Esports Charts, the recent KCorp vs MAD Lions KOI game had a peak viewership of 741.4K, completely smashing the previous LEC Winter Split peak viewership record.
Furthermore, the three most popular matches of week 1 of the LEC included either one of the two teams.
This proves that teams such as KCorp and MAD Lions KOI are needed not only in the LEC but in the whole esports scene. They can get eyeballs on the product, mainly because they have created loyal fan bases that will tune in to every match of the team, no matter the esports.
All the other games in the LEC don't even come close in terms of excitement and don't make fans feel like the stakes are high or the match matters. Mind you that some of these matches are between the best teams in the league, or the most historic ones, and yet they make you feel nothing.
Esports organizations need to find a way to truly captivate fans and build a fanbase that is there not for a specific player but for the team. They need to have a unique identity and also foment rivalries that will make certain games feel much more important and can captivate fans.
The next era of esports fan bases
I have mentioned KCorp and MAD Lions KOI a lot throughout this article. Some people might say this rivalry is unique because of the history between both regions and that this is almost impossible to replicate.
After all, France and Spain are long-time rivals in traditional sports such as Football or Basketball. However, there is another rivalry that shows that this isn't true. I'm talking about LOUD and paiN Gaming, two of the biggest esports organizations in Brazil, and the world to be fair.
There is no regional factor involved in this rivalry, as it was born like most sports rivalries are. The two best teams of a sport that are often clashing over its biggest prize become bitter rivals, after facing each other in the finals multiple times.
It's similar to the Lakers vs Celtics rivalry. paiN Gaming fans often use the word "tradição", which means tradition, to describe the organization, as it has been in the CBLOL since its inception, won three titles, and lost seven finals. So paiN Gaming are the Boston Celtics, they have the history, the titles, legendary players, and the passionate fan base.
LOUD are the Lakers, an organization that was born in 2019 and entered the CBLOL in 2021. Similar to the Lakers, after Dr. Jerry Buss bought them of course, LOUD had an almost immediate impact on the CBLOL, as since 2022 they won three splits in a row.
Now guess against who they won all those finals? If you said paiN Gaming then you are correct. To rub more salt in the wound, two of the best players in LOUD previously played for paiN Gaming.
All of this created a fierce rivalry between both teams, making every game between them a must-watch. Similar to KCorp and MAD Lions KOI, LOUD and paiN Gaming also have incredibly passionate fan bases, which are there for the team first and foremost, independent of the players that make up the roster.
Both organisations understand how important this rivalry is, and instead of dismissing it, they make it even bigger. That's because they understand this is great for their brands, for the CBLOL, makes the games more exciting and can help captivate new fans.
The reason why I say this is the future of esports fan bases is because some organizations have realized something very important. They need to captivate fans, not because of the great superteam they build, which let's be honest normally never delivers great results, but because the fans identify with the organization.
Organizations must have their motto, and find ways that make fans truly connect with them. They need to make fans feel like they are actually a part of the team, which is something the four organizations mentioned above do so well.
I think that, especially in countries where you have a strong football culture, such as Brazil, England, Spain, France, and Germany, we will see more fan bases like this appearing in the future.
Fan bases that are somewhat similar to the Football ultras, in the sense they make their presence felt in the arena with chants, and banners, cheer for their team after every single play, and even take drums to the arena. The last one already happened.
However, while seeing fans with a huge passion for their team and the esports scene in general is great, too much passion can also be a problem.
The possible downsides
I think we can all agree that seeing people express their passion for their favourite Football, Basketball, or esports team is beautiful.
Travelling from other countries just to support their team and spending the whole game chanting and encouraging the players is admirable, and creates a great atmosphere for fans in the arena or at home.
However, too much passion can also blind you and make you do some questionable things. There have been multiple people saying they have received insults from both the KCorp and MAD Lions KOI fanbases, with some even saying they received death threats.
This obviously doesn't represent both fan bases, and the fans who engage in this behaviour are a minority. Unfortunately, there are individuals like this in every fan base, be it on esports or traditional sports.
But the real problem is if things start to escalate in tournaments and other presential events, which thankfully, for now, hasn't happened. In the CBLOL there have been some moments of tension between fan bases and even players. Fortunately, it was only words and things didn't escalate.
Friendly banter is good for the sport, but there is also a chance things end up going too far and spiral out of control.
Let's hope this never happens, and that these fan bases continue to focus on supporting their teams and making esports broadcasts even more enjoyable to watch.
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