At similar events played in large venues, Riot Games has given each team a personal allocation of 10 tickets for friends and family. This is intended to ensure that the friends and family of competitors were able to attend and to serve as a “thank you” to the teams that make up their league. With smaller venues this year, the tickets available to teams have shrunk significantly, leaving some teams angry over what they see as preferential treatment to other attendees, and especially sponsor representatives.
The first indicator that there would be issues was when the teams were learned that friends and partners would not be able to attend the group stages in Paris. In place of the 10 tickets they say they were expecting, the group stage allocation would only be two tickets per team. The venue for the group stage of the World Championships, Le Dock Pullman in Paris, only seats 1,500 fans. Many have criticized the decision to have such a small venue for the point of the competition where the most teams (more than 60) will attend.
The allocation for the later stages was less than some teams were expecting as well: Six for the quarterfinals in London, eight for the semis in Cologne, and 10 tickets for the finals in Berlin. Teams were also told that their ticket allocation would be scrutinized and not all tickets would necessarily be honored. Priority was given to players, staff, sponsors, and family. In some cases, teams had less than half of their 10 requested tickets approved.”The allocation is irrelevant anyway,” one person said, citing the number of tickets that his team had been declined and the fact that so few tickets were available for the group stage. “None are fussed about a stage their kids most likely won’t be playing at.”
Disappointed team representatives who objected to their requests being denied were reminded that Riot had no obligation to provide these tickets and that doing so was a “favor” to the teams.
Riot staff referred the upset parties to a recent email sent to the teams before they submitted requests. “As the number of tickets that can be requested is limited,” it read, “we will try and honor as many requests as possible, but be aware that we may not be able to grant you all your demands due to the limited number of tickets we have.”
Riot cites smaller venue sizes as the main factor in the smaller number of tickets, though some of the teams involved claim otherwise. They allege that Riot has denied requests to free up room for business partners and those with financial interests in the league—though officially the two ticket allocations are separate and do not influence one another.
“The preference is clearly to those on a corporate level,” one source, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us. “You end up with situations where a businessman is being prioritized to attend but in some instances the parents or girlfriend of a player can’t.”
That sentiment was echoed by a team owner. “During the explanation we received they referenced sponsors attending multiple times,” the owner said. “Of course less friends and family from teams makes more room for Coca-Cola representatives and the 2016 deal is coming up for renewal. You do the math.”
Riot is trying to defuse the issue by negotiating with players to relinquish some of their tickets on certain days to enable some of the denied friends and family the ability to attend. Those not lucky enough will have to enter into a raffle alongside the general public for any cancellations.
Image via Riot Games