Around noon on Tuesday, Riot released an article on lolesports.com about Rift Rivals, an upcoming addition to the League of Legends Pro circuit. If you haven’t read it, check it out here. Riot explained that the event will be, “held in multiple locations across the world during July 3-9, Rift Rivals will pit regional rivals against each other in mid-split grudge matches for glory and bragging rights.” They also included a preview of what these events will look like this summer here.
Here are 4 things you need to know about this change.
- Riot is gaining more control over competitive Lol. Riot’s choice in this change of the circuit removes League of Legends from Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) tournaments, a long term partner of the esport dating back to March of 2011. Riot has replaced it with Rift Rivals, a tournament of their own creation that will allow them total control over who attends and the talent at the event. As Riot continues to maintain and grow their hold on the League of Legends competitive scene, the potential to abuse this power looms. For people who have recall the Renegades situation, Riot acted as judge, jury, and executioner, with no oversight or accountability in the situation. Many criticism Riot for being too harsh and wanting to remove MonteCristo, owner of Renegades, from the scene because he was a vocal critic of Riot Games. To quote John Dalberg-Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
- League of Legends will stay with two splits…for now. Riot claims that eliminating one of the splits (potentially Spring) will cause a huge decline in the lower level teams potential fan bases and salaries as they will only be competing in one split because the bottom 6-7 teams are likely to not qualify for the international tournaments that will fill the gaps of the eliminated split. Although, Riot does mention this is not set in stone and is subject to change in the future.
- There is no mention of an extended one split proposition. In the lolesports article, Riot does not propose the potential extension of the summer split and elimination of the spring. In this potential solution, Riot would be able to extend the amount of time the bottom 6-7 teams in each league could maintain sponsorship value and pro player salaries. Instead of a the current 2 split, 10 week season, there would be one, 20 week season, and a one month long worlds tournament which altogether, would last only half the year. Then there would be a 2 month off season in between Worlds and the start of the next year. After the off season international tournaments such as Rift Rivals/Mid Season Invitational, (obviously the name would have to change), could take place and this would help eliminate the problem IEM had with top teams opting out in favor of rest. Now this system isn’t perfect, but I think moving in a direction that would be similar to an NFL/NBA one season system would be better for the long term when esports will become regional/franchised.
- Riot understands burnout. In most major sports, there is a defined off season where players and teams can recharge before the next season. This is something that League has lacked especially for top teams which as I mentioned earlier led to the deteriorating competition at IEM. When teams are changing players in between splits creating good team chemistry can sometimes take time as the emphasis on teamwork has been increasingly important ever since Season 4. Riot sees that there already is not much time for this meshing process to take place in between seasons.
As the landscape of esports changes in the upcoming months it is nice to see Riot taking strides to improve the current circuit system with the addition of Rift Rivals. Eliminating IEM, although it hits me in the feels, in favor of an established off-season and a balance between regional and international competition is a step in the right direction.
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photo credit: yong woo kim 20170315 LCK Spring 2R_Kenzi_16 via photopin (license)