n a move that’s stirring up the esports community, Saudi Arabia is reportedly set to host an international League of Legends tournament in July 2024. This news, reported by Jacob Wolf, hints at a significant addition to the Esports Worlds Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Involvement: A Media Catalyst
The inclusion of football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in the event’s promotion has already created a buzz, surpassing 34 million impressions. Ronaldo’s presence in an esports-related event signifies the growing crossover appeal and mainstream acceptance of competitive gaming.
A Historic Esports Event with a Massive Prize Pool
Saudi Arabia’s entry into hosting major esports events is notable, with the Esports Worlds Cup potentially featuring one of the largest prize pools in esports history, exceeding $50 million. The tournament is expected to draw top teams from prominent leagues, including LCS, LEC, LPL, and LCK.
Logistics and Participation
Riot Games has reportedly instructed professional leagues to clear their schedules for the week of July 1st to 7th, facilitating team participation. The selection process for participating teams remains unclear, with indications that the tournament organizers, rather than Riot, will extend invitations.
A Shift in Riot’s Event Strategy
This tournament marks a departure from Riot Games’ typical approach to international events. Since late 2017, following the introduction of long-term partnerships and franchising models, Riot has tightly controlled international League of Legends events. The last externally organized event was the Intel Extreme Masters League finale in Poland in February 2017.
Community Backlash and Ethical Concerns
The decision to host in Saudi Arabia has not been universally welcomed, with some community members voicing concerns. This reaction is fueled by the country’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights, contrasting starkly with League of Legends’ recent Pride events. Additionally, previous community backlash led to the cancellation of a Saudi Arabian sponsorship in the LEC.
Saudi Arabia’s Big Entry into Esports Arena
The rumored Saudi Arabian international League of Legends tournament in 2024 represents a significant moment in esports, blending high-profile involvement and massive financial stakes.
However, the community’s reaction highlights the complex interplay between esports’ global expansion and ethical considerations.
It raises a crucial question: What changes have influenced Riot Games’ decision to potentially host a major event in a region with contrasting social and cultural norms?