LOS ANGELES – It took all of five minutes for the 15,000-plus seats at the Staples Center to be claimed by League of Legends fans eager to catch the 2016 World Finals.

But for much of the nail-biting tournament, those 15,000 – and millions more around the world – became a single unit.

Danté Dawson had never before attended a professional eSports game. But waiting for the arena’s doors to open, he already sensed the togetherness that was to come.

“When everyone is so different playing a similar game, we all come together. We really enjoy what we can share together.”

Dawson wanted to watch the games with others, he explained, because “we all know what everyone else is feeling. That’s what brings the community together.”

The fans who sold out the Staples Center were not the only ones enjoying the action and the communal experience it offered. An estimated 45 million streamed the games live, including thousands who did so alongside other fans at Coca-Cola sponsored viewing parties hosted in more than 200 cinemas in 16 countries around the world.

Alban Dechelotte, senior entertainment marketing manager for Coca-Cola, says the screenings “enabled fans to get the feel of the games, get together as a group and watch the World finals on the big screen.”

He adds, “As fans of eSports, we are used to sharing these moments online. On our computers, we play and meet people from all over the world. But these moments at the finals are the ones where we can meet each other in real life, be together and enjoy this shared experience.”

Dechelotte said these streaming opportunities give people the opportunity to see thousands of fellow fans sharing their common passion for eSports.

The accessibility of these viewing opportunities, and the community they create, have made League of Legends one of the world’s top spectator sporting events.

As Dawson put it, “Now we are just as big as anyone else.”