Update 10/22/2022 : Riot added a new short story to their website! It stars a new champion and is a delight to read. I am still considering how often I want to do a full update of the numbers below, so this new story has not yet been included in the data. I did update the google sheets though, and so the pivot tables and charts there have updated as well. However, I will add a section at the end showing how it fits in with the parameters Riot has established for their short stories.
League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena game developed by Riot Games, Inc. Released in October of 2009, League of Legends has grown and their championships are now some of the largest esports events in the world. The way it works - Players control “Champions” to fight in that battle arena. Each champion is unique and has their own abilities. And pertinent to this analysis- each Champion exists - lives and breathes -on a world called Runeterra. Over time Riot has focused more on fleshing out the stories behind the Champions and showing how they relate and interact with each other as characters in this world. Riot’s universe.leagueoflegends.com website is dedicated to the Lore. (Lore is the body of knowledge about the history and traditions of a place or people.) Lore sources you can find on the universe website are: Champion bios, videos, comics, music, and short stories. The focus for this analysis is the short stories: there are 240 on the Universe website and 8 in the League of Legends: Realms of Runeterra book.
I found my way into the Runeterra lore with the Arcane: League of Legends on Netflix. I highly recommend the show, and I wanted to know more about the world. To my delight, I found the Universe website and the short stories. Once I started to read through them, I wanted to keep track and created my League of Legends - Short Stories Google Sheet. This is the collation of the data for this analysis. Feel free to take a look, there are numerous tabs that grew as I needed to work with the data.
I’m a writer and curiosity let me to want to see if there were any patterns to the stories, and to find the parameters for them - my questions: how long are the stories, what’s the longest and shortest, what is the most common point of view (pov) and tense, who wrote them and what regions and champions are featured the most, or the least? Sneak peek - there are a few champions with no stories at all! A few notes:
This is an analysis of the basic structures for the short stories. It is not a literary analysis and I will not be commenting on the content of the stories (other than to point out which champions are featured or mentioned.) That being said, they are awesome and I absolutely recommend you read them.
This is in no way, a commentary on the gameplay or competitive aspects of League of Legends. That was both the start of and remains the core of why any lore exists. The enjoyment, strategies, and countless hours and effort that goes into developing and sharpening both game development and gameplay is an incredible feat which I fully honor and respect. I will admit, aside from a teensy bit of PVP in WOW, I have done little of this type of gaming. My hat is off to the creators and competitors in this expansive endeavor. Thank you for what you do, so that we may get these broader lore-based stories brought into the world.
All of the stories are openly published on Riot’s universe.leagueoflegends.com website (or are in a book which I have purchased) and this analysis is of my own initiative, as are any opinions and contemplation.
This League of Legends Short Story Analysis was created under Riot Games' "Legal Jibber Jabber" policy using assets owned by Riot Games. Riot Games does not endorse or sponsor this project.
and yes, I am reading through all of them (I've read all in-universe Runeterra ones, there's still a couple of AUs left, I'm at 96%.)
Lets get to the basics: There are 248 total short stories (on the website + the ones in the Realms of Runeterra book.) There are 14 Regions in League of Legends, and 10 Alternate Universe(AU) “regions” for the short stories. There are 45 writers for those 248 short stories, writing a total of ~677,000 words!
Timeline - Publish Date The first publish date for the stories is 5-12-2014. However there are 9 short stories with no publish date (that I could find.) I do not know if that means they were on the website before they started listing publish date, or if that information has simply been omitted.
Here is the timeline for the release of short stories (from 2014 - present) by number of stories published. (I know the writing is small, but I’m showing this is to give a broad overview of how they have been released.)
The most number of stories were released on 12-2-2016, with 18 stories published.
For 2021, and so far for 2022, all stories published were done so one at a time.)
Here is the timeline for the release of short stories (from 2014 - present) by total daily word count. (There are small differences between the two graphs, which reflects that, while more stories may have been released in one day, other groupings released on different days had longer stories.)
The largest word count for one day was on 11-5-2019 with over 50k words published - they were all in the 8 short stories in the Realms of Runeterra book.
Something that caught my attention - It would seem there were a few days where they concentrated on publishing numerous stories at once. Let’s see what we find if we dig into that. (I am calling these publishing events - “lore drops”.) We’ll look at the stories in the first major line about ⅓ of the way in on both charts above (on Dec 2, 2016.) (We’re skipping the very first taller line since it represents the stories that do not have a published date listed.)
A quick glance at the Region for these stories shows this to be a Piltover-Zaun event. (In lore they are sister cities, very much tied to each other, so it would make sense to release them together.)
I’m assuming the Heimerdingerstory is included here because he currently resides in Piltover (even though the story itself takes place in Bandle City)
Now let’s look at the next spike on the chart - on Mar 24, 2017
This appears to be another Regional Lore drop - this time for Demacia.
The other noticeable spike is on Nov 5, 2019. That is the day the book League of Legends: Realms of Runeterra came out. It has eight short stories in it, all for different regions. So this was a book publishing, not a set of stories dropped on the League of Legends Universe site.
I went through the other, smaller spikes (in number of stories published on the same day), many of them (even just two or three dropped at a time) are region or character specific, though not all of them. So, while it is a common trend, it is not an absolute.
Here is the pie chart of how many days had only one story published vs days with two, three, four, etc stories published in one day.
You can see that almost 75% of the time, only one story was published a day. Two stories per day came in at 12%, and three stories per day at 8%.
There were only 7 occurrences of more than 3 stories published in a day, out of a total of 148 days (from 2014 to today) where stories were published.
Also, if you look at the total number of days Riot published a story (148) and the time that’s passed between the first and the last stories published (5-12-2014 → 7-13-2022 = 2984 days), you can get the percentage of how often they publish/what are the chances of getting a story any given day = 5%.
Now, let’s do that for months: there were 75 months with a story published out of 98 total months from 1st to most recent story = 76% chance of getting a story in any given month.
Let’s look at different ways to breakdown the stories by Date Published:
Here is the breakdown of the number of stories published by year (left) and the number of regions published by year(right). You’ll see that the largest Number of Stories were published in 2016 - 50 stories, but the largest number of diversity in Regions for the stories was in 2018 - 16 regions (including AUs). (If you remove AUs, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 all included 12 Runeterra regions. A note: not a single year has included all 14 of Runeterra’s regions.)
When we break it down into months(left) and days of the week (right), the top three months are November, December, and March and the top day of the week, by a good margin, is Tuesday.
Here is the same information in tables:
I just thought this next chart was neat, it’s the Number of Stories by year chart, but with Region (no AUs) delineations added in. You can see some of the lore drop events by their larger regional blocks of color.
Alright, let’s look at the individual stories.
The longest story is Shadow and Fortune at 13,854 words.
The shortest is The Road to Ruin at 181 words.
The average short story length is 2729.8 words per story
The largest grouping of stories, by over double the next grouping size, are stories between 1,000 and 2,000 words, with well over a hundred falling between these word count lengths.
Here are all of the individual short story lengths when they are sorted alphabetically.
You can see that the length varies greatly by story.
Point of View & Tense
These two categories are the most evaluative I will be for the structure of the stories themselves. These are key things you decide when writing a story and I wanted to see what trends we could find.
As is clearly shown, there is a strong preference in both POV and Tense. 3rd Person, Past Tense each make up around 70% of the short stories. Writer’s note: this is, generally, industry standard. While some genres may have a greater percentage of 1st person and present tense, overall, fiction tends to follow this format. Some stories were a mix or were a different literary form altogether. These were determined to the best of my ability. A note: There is a POV that is missing. 2nd person POV is probably the least used of the general 3 (1st, 2nd, 3rd). My only additional comment to Riot on this matter is - write a read-insert you cowards ((affectionate.))
Here is the full list of writers with their total word counts, average, max (largest) and min(shortest) as well as overall count of stories written. I wanted to list them all because they all have added to the lore for Runeterra and so have brought me joy. Thank you to these writers for their work and craft!
There are 43 writers, one with “unknown” and two that are not listed (on the Universe website nor Fandom Wiki.)
Over half of the writers have only written 1 or 2 stories for League of Legends. (17 writers have only written one story and 7 have written 2 stories.)
Here are the Top 10 writers by total word count, individual story word count, and number of stories.
So, the question you might be asking, after looking at this table is - who is Graham McNeill? He is clearly the most prolific writer for short stories, having written 2x as many words and almost 2x the number of stories than the next top writer. Well, he is a Scottish Novelist who is currently working as the Principle Narrative Writer at Riot Games.
And while some of the names may shift around depending on how many stories, and how many words they write per story, you can see a pretty solid set of writers who have put a ton of craft, dedication, and passion into the lore for Runeterra.
Here is another way to visualize the tables above. This also includes the number of regions written by writer and number of years a writer has been writing short stories for League of Legends.
Graham McNeill continues to top out on the number of regions that he has written for, with the rest of the list coming in as mostly the usual.
Here’s a fun graph of all of the short stories (alphabetically) with the colors representing the different writers.
Here are the number of writers per year.
The years that had the most number of writers creating stories were 2018, 2020, and 2019.
2014 had the least, but there are 9 stories with no publishing date.
Here are the number of writers per Region.
The most number of writers wrote for Ionia, then Zaun and Noxus. The least number of writers wrote for the individual AU stories. For the In-universe Runeterra regions, Bandle City and The Void had the fewest number of writers. Writers vs POV and Tense:
Remember my questions about Point of View and Tense preferences for writers? It turns out, looking at the top 10 writers, some of them do, very much, have a preference for what POV and Tense they write in.
For Example, Jared Rosen DOES NOT write in 1st person POV (though he did write a “journal” and “narration” story), but David Slagle seems to prefer to. Arial Lawrence is closest to 50/50 with POV.
The only other variation for POV is that Anthony Reynolds wrote 3 stories that are “narration.”
As for Tense, Anthony Reynolds and John O’Bryan very much prefer past tense. No one seems to overly prefer present tense and Jared Rosen and David Slagle are the closest to 50/50.
This graph has all of the regions (including the AUs)
Below are just the regions for the world of Runeterra.
Ionia has the most number of stories, with Demacia and Zaun coming in just behind. Bandle City and The Void have the least number of short stories set in their region. Here’s a table of the number of stories by region.
Here is a neat chart showing the total word count for stories by region, but it also includes the individual story lengths in the bars.
Here is a more detailed look at the Word Count of the stories by region.
Ionia also has the highest total word count by region and Bandle City has the least, but that makes sense for how many stories are set in those regions.
The longest individual story, however, is set in Bilgewater, which is probably why Bilgewater has the highest average word count per story as well.
The shortest individual story is set in Ionia, though the lowest average word count is for Runeterra.
Star Guardian has the most number of total words, and K/DA has the least. The longest story is in the Odyssey AU and the shortest is in the K/DA AU.
Here are the number of champions as they were released by year. As far as this pertains to stories, it shows that the number of champions has continued to grow, which should necessitate a growth in lore and so more stories being written.
2009 was the year League of Legends was released and so had the most number of champions also released. Things have slowed over time, but this is to be expected as they find the balance between excitement over new champions and character and story development of older ones. You can also see some years had more from certain regions than others.
Here’s another way to look at it.
Oldest champions are on the left, and newest are on the right.
Here are the number of champions per Region
Ionia and Runeterra have the most champions and Ixtal, Bandle City, and Targon have the least.
Now. Let's get to how often the champions show up in the stories. In the dataset, I’ve broken it down into those that are Starring (play an active role in the story) and those that are Mentioned in the story. But here are the total appearances in stories (starring and mentioned) for each champion (listed alphabetically).
Obviously, this is way too small to read, but it gives the general feel of the spread of the champions (sorted alphabetically). But I can also offer it this way, sorted by number of stories (a few at the end have no stories.)
If you only look at totals, Azir has appeared in more stories than any other champion. But, if we stop there, we miss a part of the story.
Azir may have the most total story inclusion, but that is because of how many times he’s been mentioned in other stories. Miss Fortune is the champion with the most active roles in the stories. For the champions in the Starring list, they are all relatively close to each other. The Mentioned list has a little more variance. And then the Total list is a mix of the two.
Alright, get ready for some zeros.
There are 5 champions that have no mentions or reference to them in the short stories put out by Riot. I cannot make any guesses as to why, but they are certainly a good place to start if you were going to write a short story of your own (*hint hint, nudge nudge.*)
I did not include the Mentioned list because it has 57 champions on it that have a 0 for their mentioned count.
Here is the chart of the number of champions per story. Again, the writing is small, but it gives the feel for how many only have one champion either starring or mentioned in the story.
Here are the stories with the most champions - starring, mentioned, and total.
The stories highlighted in purple are ones set in AU universes and not in Runeterra. They possibly have so many champions in them because there are fewer of them and they have to encompass a whole other universe, whereas Runeterra is broader, has more stories, and so more room to individualize.
What does it all mean? Riot Games, Inc and a group of wonderful writers have created a varied and diverse universe with their lore. The short stories total over ~677,000 words (~2,600 minutes/43 hours) of stories to read. And the aspects of those stories tell a story about world building and an investment into the lore of Runeterra.
There are 248 total short stories (on the website + the ones in the Realms of Runeterra book.)
There are 14 Regions in League of Legends, and 10 Alternate Universe(AU) “regions”.
There are 43 writers for those 248 short stories, writing a total of ~677,000 words!
The first publish date for the stories is 5-12-2014.
There are 9 short stories with no publish date
Based on the publish date of the stories, there were several Region specific lore drop events with 5, 9 and even 18 stories releasing on the same day. Not all days with multiple releases had a “theme” and most stories were released one at a time.
75% of the time, only one story was published per day.
The largest Number of Stories were published in 2016, but the largest number of diversity in Regions for the stories was in 2018. (If you factor out AUs, then 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 all have the same region count- 12)
The longest story is Shadow and Fortune at 13,854 words.
The shortest is The Road to Ruin at 181 words.
The average short story length is 2729.8 words per story.
3rd Person, Past Tense each make up around 70% of the short stories, (2nd person POV is completely absent.)
write a reader-insert, Riot. (I must not cringe. Cringe is the story killer. Cringe is the little death that breaks the suspension of disbelief. I will face my cringe. I will allow it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to embrace the immersion. Where the cringe has gone there will be nothing. Only I and the story will remain.)
Graham McNeill has written the most number of stories, the most number of words, and the longest short story.
The years that had the most number of writers creating stories were 2018, 2020, and 2019.
The most number of writers wrote for Ionia, then Zaun and Noxus. The least wrote for the individual AU stories. For the In-universe Runeterra regions, Bandle City and The Void had the fewest number of writers.
Ionia has the most number of stories, with Demacia and Zaun coming in behind. Bandle City and The Void have the least number of short stories set in their region.
Ionia also has the highest total word count by region and Bandle City has the least.
Ionia and Runeterra have the most Champions and Ixtal, Bandle City, and Targon have the least.
Azir has appeared in more stories than any other Champion.
Miss Fortune is the Champion with the most active roles in the stories.
Cho'gath, Corki, Kog'maw, Shaco, Teemo - are not mentioned at all in any of the short stories.
If you were going to write a story set in League of Legends and you wanted to stand out / work to fill in the gaps. The data suggests:
You keep the length between 181 and 13,000 words, with the average being 2730 words.
If you’re looking to fit in with the style, write in 3rd person POV and Past Tense. (If you’re brave enough, however, you’ll give god the middle finger as you step back into hell, and write your story in 2nd person POV.)
Set your story in Bandle City or The Void.
Bandle City could also use your word count.
Include, and even star, Cho'gath, Corki, Kog'maw, Shaco or Teemo. (Or dream big and include all 5!)
Lastly, if you truly want the greatest chance at writing a short story for League of Legends - be Graham McNeill.
Note: If you’ve looked through my data or analysis and have suggestions or corrections please send them along! If you have an alternative regional or champion attribute, a tense, POV, or other correction, I definitely want to know. Thank you for reading this and coming along on this journey.
Update 10/22/2022: Riot released a new short story on their Universe page. Let's see how it holds up to the parameters listed above. It is called "Everything We Should Have Said" and was written by Michael Luo (Giving him 8 stories now, and bumping him one above Michael Yichao.) The story is 2826 words long, which puts it very close to the average, and is 3rd person, present tense. (All of Michael Luo's stories have been 3rd person, but they are now an even split between present and past and it is his second-longest story so far.) It is set in Shurima, one of the more popular Regions (though it is the first time he has written for this Region), but is about a completely NEW Champion! It was released on a Tuesday, the most popular day to release stories.
The numbers and charts above don't change too much, so I will be waiting for more stories before I make a formal update to the entire analysis.
Possible Future Analysis
Where could I go from here?
If I wanted to dig more into the sources for lore and overall Runeterra story, I could determine data points for and add in the comics, videos, music, and champion bios put out by Riot and try to include anything that builds upon the lore. (There are several YouTube accounts that do a wonderful job gathering lore together that I could use as a crossreference.)
I could also do an actual literary analysis of the stories (including general themes, main character trends, tropes present, tone, and the story’s function in the broader lore - Runeterra story development vs individual champion highlight vs general world building, etc.)
I’m also working on double checking the word counts via a Python program and in Word, as I might have found a few discrepancies.
I could also look at AO3 (Archive of Our Own) and see what other people inspired by the world of League of Legends are writing. Who are their preferred champions, regions, and settings/AUs? (I do have an account, I am a writer. Fanfiction is fiction and a way for everyone to participate in the worlds we love so much. Also, at least half of what's put on screen is technically fanfiction, it's just sanctioned by people with a lot of money, and that doesn't automatically guarantee a good story or that the lore will be handled with love and appreciation. Don't like the spicy stuff, skip it, but I have read truly wonderful stories written by passionate people, put out there for all of us to enjoy, completely free. So yeah, let go of the cringe, embrace joy.)
If Riot wanted to expand on the lore for Runeterra via their short stories they could run a writing contest for them.
The Winner(s) get published and writing credit.
lots of new ideas and spurred interest in the short stories and other lore/world-building content.
help declutter some of the cobwebs around some of the lesser known champions or Regions.
find writers they want to invest in.
Once it is set up, it could be repeated, yearly or every other year, or on certain Riot anniversaries.
It will take manpower and time to read all of the short stories and then again to go over the ones that are liked (that will take resources and of course money.)
Then there is the question on if the submission get’s a chance at editing if they are selected (which will take more time.)
Someone will have to write up the guidelines (including the legal necessities), prepare marketing, manage submission collection and winner notification/celebration event.
Since overall League of Legends story advancement is probably planned years in advance, the content of the stories would have to be limited to individual character/champion, region, or historical vignettes.
Instead of a story contest, Riot could simply set up a formal way to accept story submissions year-round (note: their terms of service, at present, doesn’t say you can’t send in submissions; what it does say is that any submissions sent in immediately transfer all creative rights to Riot Games. So yes, you could submit an idea, but they can take it, do with it as they see fit, and may never provide any follow-up or attribution. But, if it's adding to the lore, really that's what matters.)
To make it easier to deal with numerous submissions, they could require it to be .txt
Have a program ready to generate a report on word count, presence of any unacceptable words, champion and region mentions, or any other metrics. You could even have different tense versions of commonly used words to determine if the story has consistent writing. This could easily weed out stories without throwing too many resources at it initially.
While this may have initial fanfare, as marketing, it will have limited impact after the first announcement.