Adventures in esports: My experience at League of Legends MSI 2023

I know I didn’t say anything about this in advance, but a couple of weeks ago, Shane and I got to fly across the Atlantic to attend some of the knockout games at the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational! 

How we got there is a long story that involves far too much dealing with insurance, but it basically ended up being our second go at a honeymoon after our original one was so rudely interrupted at the start of the year.

It was our first time ever attending a live esports event, so neither one of us really knew what to expect going in. It was a fantastic adventure, though, so in the spirit of knowing what esports events are like, I thought I’d share our experience!

It will be busier than you think.

It’s one thing to know factually that the esports industry is bigger both in fan base and in net worth than American football. It’s another entirely to see what that means firsthand.

I got a little glimpse of this back in February when I was booking our tickets and had to battle millions of people around the world just to get into the lines at exactly the right millisecond, but I don’t think it really sank in until we got there.

We ended up going to both the GEN-G vs. Cloud 9 and JDG vs. T1 matchups on May 17 and 18. Both were entirely sold out, which meant that we gathered with at least 10,000 fellow fans, if what I overheard from the event’s security was at all accurate. Honestly, it was nice to see such a massive turnout, especially given the past few years and how reluctant people have been to attend in-person events. The teams definitely deserve the support!

It will be louder than you think.

Though the first day we attended was arguably the quieter of the two, live esports are much louder than one might think! When you watch from home, you know that you’re getting involved in the plays, sitting on the edge of your seat to watch the players pull wild moves. But when you’re actually there, you’re part of a massive collective—all of whom are doing the exact same thing.

I’m not sure if this applies to all games, but the ones we went to also included a few superfans who spent the entire afternoon riling up fellow fans to cheer for their teams at the highest possible decibel.

You’ll cheer together, yell together, and even root for the Rift Herald’s build-up and crash into towers. I never knew that was a thing, but it apparently is, and it’s something that will never leave my games again.

Being early is a good thing.

When we originally booked our tickets, I really just got them for the two latest days that weren’t already entirely sold out (yes, within seconds of the queues opening). I had no idea that May 18 was the start of Fan Fest—a bonus event before the games started.

We decided when we saw the news for Fan Fest on May 17 that we’d show up early to see what it was all about, and that was probably the best decision we could have made. The event featured a demo for Convergence, the new side scroller that dives into a story about Ekko—and that the marketing people there neither denied nor confirmed would continue the story from the Arcane series.

It also featured a meet-and-greet with the players of Cloud 9.

So yes, by showing up early, we got to be the first people at MSI 2023 to meet Fudge, Blaber, EMENES, Berserker, and Zven. May or may not have included a few fangirl moments on my part, multi-coloured Sharpie signatures on the backs of our MSI 2023 hoodies, and a few selfies where if I’d been thinking, I would’ve just waited my turn so we weren’t all looking in different directions.

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Ah, well. Live and learn.

It sometimes includes surprise appearances.

As I went to get in line on our second day there for a quick snack between games, I noticed that I was standing behind someone who looked incredibly familiar. It took me a solid minute to realize it was Licorice, the top laner for Golden Guardians—the second of the North American teams to make it to MSI this year.

It took everything in me to let the poor man get his darn hotdog and not hold him up with selfies. It was just such an unexpected moment, and now it’s a funny story to be able to say I met Licorice in the hotdog line.

So that’s what I learned about esports events! I have no idea if we’ll be able to go to another one, or if this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience—but I’m glad we got to go, and I loved every moment.


Have you ever gone to a live esports event? What did you experience?

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