In the pantheon of esport throne League of Legends, famous MOBA (Multiplayer online battle arena, a genre of video games) published by Riot Games. During the 2010s, “LoL” gradually established itself as the world’s number one in electronic sports, with the World Championship finals being the highlight of the year in the medium, as well as 664.16 million viewing hours (excluding China) in 2021 according to the Bureau of Statistical Analysis Esport Charts.
In France, of course, the mayonnaise took, and the game is the one that benefits from the most structured ecosystem, from the huge competitive circuit to the professionalization of the distribution, largely assured on Twitch, by OTP (One Trick Production ).
OTP is an audiovisual production company responsible for broadcasting almost all the major competitions at stake: the European, South Korean, World Championships… But also the French League of League of Legends (LFL), or the European Masters, a end-of-segment European Cup organized twice a year between the best teams in each national competition. The competition is currently underway and three more French teams are involved: LDLC OL, Vitality Bee and Karmine Corp.
But OTP is above all a band of a dozen ‘casters’ (commentators) who have become iconic in the eyes of the community. Omar Da Fonseca, Yoann Riou or Julien Febreau are in a sense to sports what Fabien “Chips” Culié, Charles “Noi” Lapassat or Kevin “Tweekz” Remy, to name a few, are to esports (on League of legends).
Like their counterparts in traditional sport, they commentate, vibrate and bring the matches to life, also reclaiming the pre- and post-match analyses, sprinkled with a whole host of anglicisms specific to esport – and of its utterly incomprehensible vocabulary for the profane.
Between passion, humor, expertise and (a touch of) chauvinism, the OTP “crew” has won the loyalty of its audience to contribute to the development of League of Legends in France. As a result, LoL is thriving and remains the most popular game in France by “amateur esports”, as 76% of them follow the competitions, according to the France Esports Barometer 2021. “I think we participated in the interest in the game , “Because a lot of people discovered it thanks to us,” said Chips, 32, who has been a commentator for a decade, an eternity for the industry.
“We gave attachment points to people who were attracted to LoL,” he continues. We gave them reasons to watch the game, stick with it… And we told a lot of stories that made it, for people, something that was ingrained in them, that gave them souvenirs. †
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Like much of the OTP team, and in particular Noi, his lifelong sidekick, Chips made his debut with O’Gaming, the former main channel of LoL in France. Web TV’s departure from these key figures in esports, announced in October 2020, left thousands of spectators orphaned. Until the launch of OTP, which was announced with great fanfare, two months later: a few days after its inauguration in January 2021, the channel already gathered 120,000 spectators for the start of the LFL. A record for the match.
Peak at 300,000 spectators
“I am convinced that our strength is that we have always wanted to communicate on OTP as a group of talented friends who share a passion,” analyzes Antoine Rabhi, president of the company responsible for the commercial part. This is how the channel finds its formula, perpetuates its audience and last spring again caused panic at the counters on the occasion of the final of the European Masters, which brought together almost 300,000 spectators.
A new record largely driven by the presence of streamer Kamel “Kameto” Kebir’s highly popular Karmine Corp. in this finale. “We were kind of lucky to get into a game like League of Legends, with World Championships, lots of streamers taking part in the game’s popularity, Chips confides. We have cleared the way, but there are many people who have contributed to the construction of the building. †
According to the caster, it is precisely these personalities that other games lack to rival League of Legends’ hegemony. “French streaming on LoL is very dynamic, mainly because we have a lot of big influencers, he analyses. People need references, personalities to follow. If it doesn’t happen too much in other disciplines, there won’t be big audience catalysts and people who will make sure the scene is united on high numbers. †
When esport moves crowds
The young French team Karmine Corp has built a base of “ultra” supporters in less than two years and has become a real phenomenon in the sector. We saw it during the return “show match” against Gérard Piqué’s team on January 8 in Paris.
To support his point, Chips takes the example of the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, ranked No. 2 in the world according to Esport Charts (410.8 million hours watched outside of China in 2021), which also has an international circuit that closes and structured… but struggles to generate the same enthusiasm: “There are no big Counter-Strik influencers in France, but the game is exciting to follow, there is a great scene, great players…”
We’ll see what comes out
Is OTP meant to contribute to the creation of these smaller scenes with its audience and its know-how? “Doing something different is always in the back of our mind, we look at what comes out, we don’t ban ourselves,” assures Antoine Rabhi, recalling OTP working with the Professional Football League to produce eLigue1 on FIFA. But we think the necessary conditions to be met are very many, the right game, with a community, the right time…”
Chips supports: “If we can make sure that we participate in initiatives that go in this direction, we always like to do that, then I don’t get up in the morning and I say to myself ‘I need to make esport shine more”. †
The priority for Web TV today remains to “maintain this momentum of enthusiasm”, specifies the caster, who plans to launch his own streams from time to time to have his “small personal platform”. The team also wants to perpetuate the “watching parties” with its fans, as it did with some thirty of them in Paris on April 2 and 10 during the finals of the Korean and European Championships. And plans to export to comment on certain competitions on the spot, as the old Chips wishes: “It remains one of our goals at OTP, it’s something we want to do, we’ve never got it in ten years of casting can do! “