Riot Games scolded for poor decisions in esports league
Over the last week, the community of the largest esport in the world, League of Legends, was in uprising after a series of events culminating in a public relations disaster for the developer of the game, Riot Games. The calamity started after an interview by thescoreesports.com with a professional player, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, in which Doublelift discussed the current problems with the way Riot Games is handling its competitive scene. Namely, Doublelift criticized the developer for releasing large updates, also known as patches, immediately before large professional tournaments. These large updates can have drastic effects on play at the professional level, and forces teams to adapt to an entirely new style of play that best fits the current update. The best style of play fluctuates with each patch and is referred to as the “meta.” A large, game changing patch right before a large professional event is similar to change the rules of a sport likes soccer right before the world cup. The problem with this in League of Legends is that the meta of a new patch may favor a team that was weak in the previous meta, and vice-versa. This can, and has, changed the entire landscape of tournaments and the players are not happy about the timing. Most players in the community agree that some level of change is healthy, but the general rules of the game should stay the same when important professional tournaments are played.
Doublelift’s interview gained some traction in the online community, and more well-known personalities in the esports world began to speak on the same issue. Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, a popular League of Legends caster for South Korean network OGN, spoke in more depth about the issue of patch timing as well as Riot Games’ failure to offer industry standard rates to freelance caster for international events. In the midst of all this criticism, Riot Games co-owner and co-founder Marc “Tryndamere” Merrill, took some time out of his day to respond to a post on reddit.com discussing these issues. In his post, he criticized Andy “Reginald” Dinh, one of the most important figures for the development of esports and owner of one of the most successful esports teams, Team SoloMid, for not paying his players enough, and “losing money on other esports.” This statement, among a slew of other blatant fallacies triggered a massive angry response from important members of the community, and for good reason.
Perhaps the most concerning issue is the stifling of sponsors by Riot Games in their plot to control every single detail of the League of Legends esports scene. Multiple big names in the community spoke out about Riot Games’ unwillingness to allow teams to share revenue from sponsors, which is a major source of income for teams in all other esports games as well as professional sports. The National Hockey League would not exist if revenue sharing from sponsors did not exist. The community was eventually informed that League of Legends is, in fact, the least profitable of the major esports games for this very reason. Although he edited his posts and retracted some of his statements, the damage was done and the community was bearing their fangs at him. Some of the most influential people in esports called him out for his own misunderstanding of the industry, and rightly so. Some were calling for player unions to be created, and drastic change will be needed to repair this hole in the trust of the community. Not only that, but the longevity of Merrill’s game is at stake as well. League of Legends is already one of the longest lasting esports in history, next to StarCraft: Brood War. Every game has a life span, and it is up to Riot Games to preserve their game for the future. If they continue to communicate poorly with the community and make unfavorable decisions for players, the game will not last. Riot Games can choose to extend their games longevity by appealing to their players. The community of League of Legends is larger than ever, and it will take a considerable amount of time for the game to fade away.