The world’s most successful esports publisher, Riot Games, published an open letter to their users and fans this week that could have a massive impact on the way major events are run and planned in future. While Valve are happy to hand over the reins of their CSGO Majors to a small group of powerful Tournament Organisers, and keep their Dota 2 crown jewel so in-house it may as well be stuffed up the chimney, the makers of League of Legends are taking a vastly different approach, by opening up the bidding process in a way that resembles the planning around a World Cup.
In what is something of a revolutionary move, Riot announced that they had invited more than 300 cities worldwide to submit proposals to host LCS events. To their credit, the company fully admitted that this was not a plan they have had for a long time, but rather one they were forced into, as you can see in the excerpt below, but sometimes the best decisions are the ones we are forced into, rather than those we willingly walk into.
In short, however, we bet on a Finals venue and it didn’t work out. Both the venue and us were interested in hosting the World Championship Finals, but there were a few variables that meant we had to wait a few more months before getting a firm commitment. In the meantime, we hedged our bets, went searching for a ‘plan B,’ and initiated conversations.
A few months ago, we decided we couldn’t ‘wait and see’ for much longer, so we approached our plan B venue, and went into negotiations. Those negotiations fell through for other reasons, and we came into June with no Finals venue secured for Worlds.
FIFA-like process, sans corruption
When Riot’s favoured venue fell through, they went in search of a plan B, but that was not to be either. Those who have attended previous Riot finals were probably aware something was wrong, with the announcement (that we received at the end of July 2018) being made in February of last year for the corresponding event. As it is, a venue for finals in Incheon, Korea has been secured, for which you can find details here, and the process has been changed to avoid future issues.
According to reports in Calvin Ayre, the future of Riot tendering looks more like the way FIFA offer their events, with nations and cities invited to pitch for each final and the ‘best’ chosen based on a number of variables. This is far from a flawless method, as the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russian World Cup and Qatari World Cup all demonstrate, and extremely prone to corruption, but compared to the wait and see method Riot described for their 2018 process it does have a number of advantages.
Firstly, it will encourage different venues to consider esports and compete with the traditional homes we have, thereby opening up opportunities for fans in different nations. Secondly, and most obviously, it allows Riot to have a selection of venues for any future event, with a full run down of what they can expect to achieve. In addition to this, it will give the company a far better idea of the options out there, and may even provide them with data from the bidding process that helps maximise revenue down the road.
For now though, it’s just a plan for the future, and there is a lot to be done before Riot have a robust bidding process in place. We’d like to tell you’ll they’ll avoid the same sort of corruption and controversy the IOC, FIFA, UEFA and so many others have fallen foul of, but we it remains to be seen at this point if Riot have the guys those giants of sport do not possess. With the firm so heavily invested in the future of League as a product, one might assume they will be more responsible, but it’s impossible to see the future.
Image credit: Riot