League of Legends Teams to Compete in Saudi-Backed World Cup

League of Legends Teams to Compete in Saudi-Backed World Cup

The Saudi Arabian government, the sponsor of the Gamers8 festival, announced that the event will make a comeback in 2024 under a new name: the Esports World Cup.

The Esports World Cup is set to feature teams from around the globe competing in League of Legends, with Riot Games being involved. Expectations are that teams from leagues such as the League Champions Series and the League Eastern Conference will take part in this tournament. While specific details on how it will be showcased are still unclear, it is anticipated to take place in July.

Riot Games has given permission for two teams from each of its leagues (including the League Championship Series in North America, the League European Championship in Europe, the League Pro League in China, and the League Champions in South Korea) to participate in this event. However, it should be noted that Riot will not handpick these organizations, as clarified by an email obtained by The Jacob Wolf Report during the holiday break.

Schedule adjustments

It’s worth mentioning that the event has also started collaborating with video creators, including former Call of Duty professional player Seth “Scump” Abner. To accommodate the Esports World Cup, Chris Greeley, the director of strategy for League of Legends, sent an email requesting that all leagues suspend their activities during the week of July. This coincides with Riot’s summer break for its employees, which falls on the week of the Fourth of July holiday.

In addition to this request, the email also provided details about the Mid Season Invitational, scheduled to take place in May. According to Korean news source News1, after a hiatus in 2016, this event will be returning to China.

Riot’s talks with third-party organizers

According to a statement given to The Jacob Wolf Report, several tournament organizers, including the Esports World Cup, are currently in discussions with Riot. These talks involve licensing third-party events to become part of the League of Legends ecosystem.

Following the completion of the 2022 Asian Games in September 2023, where teams from countries like India, China, and South Korea competed against each other, Riots eSports staff began evaluating third-party tournaments. Riot said,

“We’ve been in conversations with various tournament organizers—including the Esports World Cup—about unlocking teams’ participation in such events. We’re in active exploration of these opportunities, including if and when they can fit within the 2024 calendar, but nothing has been confirmed at this time.”

Riot Games recognizes that fans have been asking for more international and cross-regional tournaments. While Riot wouldn’t operate these events, they think they could be part of delivering on that request, in addition to the competitions they produce.

Saudi in eSports

Over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in the region’s involvement in the world of eSports. This started with their acquisition of Esl and Faceit tournament organizers in the industry back in January 2022. Savvy Gaming Group expanded its portfolio by acquiring Vindex, the parent company of Esports Engine, an organizer of tournaments and broadcasting events.

This expansion hasn’t been without criticism. Many people have raised concerns regarding the region’s track record on LGBTQ+ rights and the involvement of their crown prince in the incident surrounding Jamal Khashoggi’s demise.

Riot Games also briefly partnered with NEOM—a city development project backed by Saudi Arabia—for the League European Championship (LEC).

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.