'Ballers' Season 5 Will Feature a 'League of Legends' Subplot08/26/2019
Ballers is back, baby, and it’s turning its focus from the gridiron to the gaming chair.
After the show kicked off its fifth and final season Sunday night, HBO offered a taste of what’s yet to come for the sports dramedy starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as financial manager Spencer Strasmore. To this point, the show has mostly followed the off-the-field exploits of football players, many of whom are represented by Strasmore. But a new teaser reveals that Ballers will turn at least a part of its attention toward esports, in particular the multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends.
The trailer shows NFL player Vernon Littefield (Donovan W. Carter) expressing a desire to become a professional gamer. “Maybe gaming should be my next career,” he’s shown telling his friend and business partner Reggie (London Brown). Reggie pitches the idea to Joe (Rob Corddry), but doesn’t seem to be taken seriously. “Games are overhyped and overvalued,” Joe says.
“Just what white record execs said about hip-hop,” Reggie fires back.
Rick Fox, a former NBA player who’s been a League of Legends team owner, makes a cameo, and there’s a shot of the League of Legends developer Riot Games’ headquarters.
What is League of Legends?
League of Legends has one of the most lucrative esports leagues in the world. Riot Games hosts the League Championship Series (LCS) in Los Angeles and the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) in Berlin, which feature professional teams via for dominance. There are also League of Legends competitions that take place across Asia, which culminate in the annual World Championship. In 2017, the World Championship had 60 million unique viewers and a total prize pool of over $4 million.
Esports has grown considerably over the past several years, and is beginning to challenge mainstream sports leagues like the NFL and NBA in terms of viewership and revenue. Famous names like Magic Johnson and Robert Kraft, as well as professional sports teams like the New York Yankees and Houston Rockets, have invested in esports. According to Forbes, League of Legends franchises are being valued at $50 million, while Overwatch franchise valuations are $60 million to $80 million. That means the former has seen a fivefold increase in a year, while the latter has experienced a three- to fourfold increase in that same period.
Is The Rock—er, Spencer Strasmore—smellin’ what League of Legends is cooking? You’ll have to watch Season 5 of Ballers to find out.
This season on @BallersHBO… #Ballers @TheRock pic.twitter.com/rIsJkpVQCl
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