Riot Games in Talks for Participation in Saudi Arabia’s Esports World Cup
4. January 2024 by Valentin Pasetti
Riot Games, the renowned developer behind popular titles like League of Legends and Valorant, is reportedly in negotiations to feature its games and teams in the upcoming Esports World Cup, hosted by Saudi Arabia. This development marks a significant moment in the esports industry, coming off the holiday season hiatus.
Background of the Esports World Cup
The Esports World Cup, previously known as Gamers8, is an eight-week gaming festival and esports competition series set to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, starting in July. This event represents a major step in the Kingdom’s increasing involvement in the esports arena.
Riot Games’ Potential Involvement
A leaked internal email, not yet authenticated, suggests Riot Games is considering allowing exhibition matches of League of Legends at the Esports World Cup. This email indicates that Riot would permit two teams from each of its leagues to participate, though the company wouldn’t select which teams attend.
Chris Greeley, the global director of League of Legends Esports strategy, reportedly requested leagues to clear activities during the first week of July, aligning with the Esports World Cup schedule.
Official Statement from Riot Games
In a statement to The Esports Advocate, a Riot Games spokesperson discussed the company’s evaluation of third-party event involvement.
The spokesperson highlighted the potential benefits, including additional competitive opportunities and revenue streams for professional teams and players. The Asian Games were cited as a successful example of the positive impact third-party events can have on esports.
The Changing Landscape in Esports Business
The decision to potentially engage with a government-organized international event in Saudi Arabia comes with its complexities. The esports community previously reacted negatively to a similar situation with the LEC’s association with NEOM in 2020.
Despite this, Riot Games is not alone in considering participation in the Esports World Cup. Many gaming and esports companies, participants in the Global New Sports Conference held in Riyadh, are seriously contemplating involvement in the event.
A Game Changer in Esports
Riot Games’ exploration of third-party events, including the Esports World Cup, signals a rapid change in the esports business landscape.
The company’s ongoing negotiations and the potential participation of other major players in this Saudi Arabian event indicate an evolving approach to global esports collaborations and partnerships.
As the esports world watches closely, the outcome of these discussions could redefine the future of international esports events.