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SYFY WIRE League of Legends

"Burn It All Down": League of Legends hypes Worlds 2021 with tournament arc-approved music video

By Justin Carter
Servant NYCC

Since 2014, Riot Games' League of Legends has featured a song to go with their yearly World Championship. These songs are always meant to build hype for the competition to come, and this year's song, "Burn It All Down" from synth band Pvris, is no exception. The new beat-heavy track and accompanying video put you in the shoes of the players who will be battling it out in the actual competition. It's all about defying the odds to become one of the best League players in the world(s). 

Each Worlds song is given its own animated music video, and "Burn" continues this trend. Featuring nearly two dozen actual players, such as frequent Worlds champion Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and last year's MVP Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, the majority of the video is simple 2D animation, with players fighting against each other in a training facility, using the abilities of their respective Champions. Towards the end, the animation shifts to a CG art style that looks similar to Netflix's upcoming Arcane series, and has the players go all out with their abilities. 

"Burn's" video comes from Haoliners Animation, which previously worked on League shorts in the past. Since their Hao Lin founder is a fan of League and the esports scene, working on the game felt like a no-brainer. In an interview with Upcomer, LoL esports' global creative director Carrie Dunn spoke highly of Lin's love for the game, and how that was reflected in the video. "Hao Lin loves to watch Worlds every can see that approach in how he built our fight sequences. Nothing is ever simple or quick because he knows that the moments of struggle and close calls with defeat are what make victories even better at the end.”

Overall, the process of creating the music video, from Dunn's original concept in October 2020 to signing on Haoliners this past January, took nearly a full year. The biggest hurdle that Haoliners faced ultimately came down to the real life players, as everything had become finalized by this past February. For the sake of the animators, the cast of players in the video couldn't change no matter what happened in the season, meaning some of the players in the video aren't actually in the competition itself, like Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.

Watching the video will likely give you a sense of nostalgia if you watch shonen anime, which often features tournament arcs where the cast face off against each other and have to face their own demons, emotional or otherwise. Perhaps intentionally, it mattered to Dunn that "Burn" featured pros who had the drive to make it to the top. "They needed to have unfinished business — a future still to be written ... That was their reason for going to this underground clubhouse, for working so hard to train and push and fight to make the future their own.”

Simple, sure, but with the Worlds music videos, it leads to some stunning animation, such as last year's "Take Over." 

Of course, it was also important that the "Burn It All Down" video captured the excitement that comes from esports in general, and League in particular. Which is why it's rooted in the present day. "We didn’t want to escape to far-off fantasy lands," Dunn said. "We wanted everyone watching to feel the urgency and excitement of our very real, modern sport."