A crowd cheers at the LEC Championship as two League of Legends teams go head-to-head on stage.
Photo via Riot Games

Riot to reportedly send LCS, LEC, and other LoL teams to Saudi-backed Esports World Cup

Space has been carved out in 2024's pro League schedule.

Riot Games has reportedly agreed to send two teams from each of its top-tier domestic League of Legends competitions, including the LCS and the LEC, to the Esports World Cup event backed by Saudi Arabia.

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Per an internal Riot email acquired by Jacob Wolf of the Jacob Wolf Report, the developer is still “currently working through details” of how League will specifically be represented at the Esports World Cup, but the company is allowing two teams each from the LCS, the LEC, the LPL, and the LCK to participate. It is currently unknown how the teams attending will be selected, but the reported email states Riot will not be picking them.

Team Liquid waves onstage after competing at the League of Legends World Championship 2023
Top teams from across the League ecosystem will attend. Photo by Liu YiCun via Riot Games

Riot has also reportedly asked its domestic leagues not to host any events or matches during the first week of July 2024, to make space for the teams attending the Esports World Cup.

The Esports World Cup was announced in October as a virtual successor to the Gamers8 event from Summer 2023, which featured tournaments for prominent titles such as CS:GO, Rocket League, and Fortnite. Both Gamers8 and the Esports World Cup are projects of the Savvy Gaming Group, the gaming subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia’s growing presence within esports and gaming via the Savvy Gaming Group, which included the purchase and merging of prolific tournament organizers ESL and FACEIT at the beginning of 2022, has sparked lots of discussion and debate. Many compare it to Saudi Arabia’s sports-washing practice and have expressed outrage towards those working with Gamers8 and the Esports World Cup due to the country’s poor human rights record and anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

The country’s human rights violations towards LGBTQ+ individuals were a big reason why Riot’s partnership between the LEC and the Saudi-backed city project NEOM back in July 2020 was met with public resistance. That resistance, which included vocal displeasure from LEC broadcast members, led to the partnership being ended in just 14 hours.

The eight-week Esports World Cup is set to begin in July 2024.


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Author
Scott Robertson
VALORANT lead staff writer, also covering CS:GO, FPS games, other titles, and the wider esports industry. Watching and writing esports since 2014. Previously wrote for Dexerto, Upcomer, Splyce, and somehow MySpace. Jack of all games, master of none.