Riot pulls the plug on Wild Rift Esports in the West, community reacts
League of Legends: Wild Rift was touted as the next big mobile esport title. However, a quick look at its past year has shown that this is certainly not the case.
The first global tournament for the game was the Horizon Cup which happened in Singapore and had a peak viewership of 62,885. While that is a good number, it’s pretty far off from the 1 million plus peak viewership other MOBAs like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang achieve.
In 2022, Riot launched the first official esports season for Wild Rift with Global Championship Icons happening during summer to crown the first World Champion. Several regional leagues fed into the competition which again took place in Singapore. The viewership, however, fell to 54,261 – lesser than the inaugural Wild Rift Horizon Cup.
It was clear that there is something wrong with Wild Rift esports but the community and organization were hoping that a seasoned developer like Riot might be able to turn things around. It seems now that that might not be the case.
Riot pulls the plug on Wild Rift esports in the west – will only be focusing on Asia
Rumors were floating around for a few days that Riot might be shutting down Wild Rift esports in the West. In response, the comparatively small but passionate community in the region launched a hashtag #EUNABRLATWR in a last-minute attempt to convince Riot otherwise.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as the developer just announced that it will be pulling the plug on Wild Rift esports everywhere but in Asia.
Riot said that it will be launching a new Wild Rift League in Asia with 12 teams from China’s WRL and eight teams from other 2022 Asian regions. This league will be the pinnacle of Wild Rift esports in 2023 and perhaps even further. It will happen across two splits each year. Riot didn’t reveal any more details about its format.
For the rest of the world, Riot won’t directly be involved in any esports tournaments. Instead, it will be “unlocking the opportunity” for third-party tournaments. Interestingly enough, the developer didn’t directly state that it will be supporting these third-party tournaments in other regions.
Angry community reacts to Riot’s announcement
There were a lot of reactions to Riot’s announcement. The first came from the orgs themselves. Esports organizations like Unicorns of Love and TSM who had invested early into the Wild Rift ecosystem announced their departure.
Caster Imperium, who also was on the air during the Wild Rift Global Championship Icons, had a more wordy reaction calling the announcement a “joke” and made with “messed up logic.”
The community itself made a lot of memes on the announcement. One of them was of Leo Faria, the former global head of Wild Rift esports, saying that they will be investing in the ecosystem for “many years to come.” Twitter user _NerfMyDoritos felt that Riot was killing any chance it had of growing in the West. The user may have a point. With no direct support from Riot, there is a lesser motive to play the game.
Lastly, there were many memes made on the issue, here’s our top pick.
Riot doesn’t rule out a return for Wild Rift Esports in other regions
In its announcement, Riot didn’t rule out a potential return for Wild Rift esports in regions outside Asia, though.
The developer said that they will be opening the doors for third-party tournaments and that this new format will give the community “time and runway to grow organically.” According to Riot, this will enable the community itself to establish what role high-level competition plays in the ecosystem.
“As the Wild Rift esports landscape evolves, we’ll be ready to move in lockstep,” Riot said on coming back.