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MAKE OR BREAK

‘League of Legends’ Worlds 2021: Behind the Anticipation, Activations, and Anthem With Riot Game’s Carrie Dunn

September 29, 2021

Every fall, League of Legends fans from around the world come together for the year’s biggest moment in esports: Worlds. The month-long competition, starting October 5 and running through November 6, 2021, is a display of the very best competitors in the game—and it all begins with a major musical moment worthy of the tournament. 

This year, Spotify and Riot Games are bringing an all-new Worlds Anthem digital experience to fans along with music-inspired activations and elevated audio experiences throughout the tournament. The Worlds Anthem drop is League of Legends’ biggest music moment, and this year, the Anthem will be Burn It All Down” by PVRIS.

The fan experience includes:

Worlds Anthem digital experience: Dive even deeper into this year’s Worlds Anthem with the stories around the featured pros, creative, and music. The digital experience lets fans explore the regional clubhouses featured in the 2021 Worlds Anthem, including in Shanghai, Seoul, and Berlin, and discover tracks curated by League of Legends pros such as ShowMaker and JackeyLove. Some site visitors will also be given an opportunity to generate their own personalized 2021 Worlds Spotify playlist based on the music they love as they navigate the clubhouses. The microsite can be accessed in all markets where Spotify is available across both desktop and mobile.

League of Legends Official Playlist: Curated by the professional League of Legends teams representing their regions at Worlds this year, this playlist highlights each team’s play style and the song that best matches them. It includes:

Exclusive weekly podcast: Hosted by Travis Gafford and Emily Rand, Rift Reaction is a Spotify-exclusive weekly podcast that covers the biggest storylines in the League of Legends competition every week, keeping fans up-to-date on all Worlds news this year. Tune in during the competition for special, of-the-moment episodes. The Official Playlist, Rift Reaction, and more can all be found in the League of Legends hub, available exclusively on Spotify. 

Behind Worlds each year is a stellar team of creative individuals who help craft each decision, including the creation of the Worlds Anthem music video—a story in and of itself. One such person is Carrie Dunn, Marketing and Creative Director, Riot Games. For the Record spoke with Carrie about the choices behind the song, sound, and video, as well as what Worlds means to her.

Another year, another Worlds, and another Worlds Anthem. What factored into the sound, lyrics, and story behind this year’s “Burn It All Down” by PVRIS?  

For Worlds 2021, we really grounded ourselves in this idea of “make/break.” It’s the dichotomy of Worlds that makes the competition so utterly compelling; for every stunning victory, there is a crushing loss. In order to make the future, you have to be willing to break from the past. We took that to heart, both in the stories we’re telling and in the way we chose to tell them. 

For the lyrics of the Worlds Anthem, we wanted to tell the story of someone who didn’t feel like they belonged in the stereotypical box of how a “hero” looks or acts or thinks—to examine how it feels when precedent and expectations become exclusionary or confining. And then follow our protagonist as they rise up against this society—she finds her strength and stops attempting to fit into old systems. Instead she chooses to “burn it all down” and create a better world. It’s a tough journey, not without bruises and sweat and tears, but in the end it’s exhilarating and triumphant and worth it.

The sound of the Worlds Anthem came from the heart of that story. It sonically embodies “breaking the past to make the future.” It starts with a foot planted firmly in the past; those contemplative piano melodies are intentionally crafted to evoke former Anthems. We wanted fans to think they knew where this song was going. Then, as we hit that chorus and our protagonist decides to “burn it all down,” we leave the past behind. We move into the explosive, energetic, modern chorus that can’t be contained. 

We’re heading into the second decade of Worlds. The greatest curse of success is a fear of innovation. But at LoL Esports, innovation has always been in our DNA. So this Anthem acts as a promise; we will always be willing to break the past to make the future.

Tell us a little more about the song, music video visuals, and how the artist was chosen.

As soon as the initial nugget of the concept of the song was formed, PVRIS was a constant reference on our team. She was our muse as we explored both lyrics and the sonic landscape. Vocally, we needed someone who could channel both emotional vulnerability and explosive power. She was the whole package. And it must have been meant to be, because when we reached out, she was wildly enthusiastic about the project. As soon as she entered the studio with our team, the energy was seamless. There was a genuine passion for the song and the story. It was a perfect partnership.

The music video visuals are the other, very important, side to this whole coin. Again, it all started with “make/break.” I looked at the landscape of LoL Esports globally, and I saw a sport on the brink. Our first decade was finished, and the second decade was waiting to be written. Some of our biggest names were retiring and a new generation, so hungry to make their mark, was rising. And I knew that was the visual story we needed to tell in the music video.

So we created the “Make/Break Society”—an underground society with secret clubhouses in regions around the world. The metaphorical manifestation of our sport’s very real rising generation—meant to show how they are constantly working to grind, to push, to test, to experiment, to evolve our sport into a new era. All so they can break the past and make their future.

What is the power of Worlds to bring gamers all over the globe together? Why is this so significant?

Worlds doesn’t just bring gamers all over the globe together. It’s a cultural moment that makes everyone realize that gaming is so much larger than a game. It breaks boundaries—living in expressions of sport, music, fashion, and entertainment. Worlds is this uncontrollable force that doesn’t fit in a single box; that is what makes it so damn exciting. On any given day, you never know what will happen next. 

And of course Worlds is the pinnacle of competition. These pros from all walks of life, with all kinds of personalities and stories, are brought together at the highest-stakes moment. You never know who will rise, or who will fall; who will make, or who will break. The only guarantee is that five icons are about to rise in real time before our eyes, cementing their place in history.

This year, Spotify and LoL have put together an all-new digital experience that dives even deeper into the new Worlds Anthem music video by expanding on the stories around the featured pros, creative, and music. What can fans look forward to? 

The world we created for the music video was too rich to convey in just a 3:20 film. We had an unprecedented number of pros in the film, these custom-designed regional clubhouses, and a deep story. It literally couldn’t all fit. So we partnered with Spotify to create a rich digital experience where fans could enter and explore that world.

In the Spotify digital experience, you can explore the LEC, LCK, and LPL clubhouses—diving into the hero pros, the key storylines, and all of the fun easter eggs. You’ll also be able to follow the creation process of our Anthem, with quotes and behind the scenes videos with PVRIS, our songwriter, and our composer. And of course there’s awesome sneak peeks of the artwork and process of designing the characters, the clubhouses, and the fight scenes.

What is your favorite part of the Worlds tournament? How should fans tune in?

Is it a cop-out to say my favorite part of Worlds is “whatever’s happening right now?” Worlds is so compelling because the format is constantly changing things up as the tournament progresses. It’s this quickly evolving story, each with something different to offer. What I will say is . . . do not miss finals. We have some amazing surprises planned.

Tune in to Worlds, live from Reykjavik, Iceland, at lolesports.com, and stream the League of Legends Official Spotify Playlist below.