Riot in talks with Olympic leadership about League of Legends esports future - Dexerto
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Riot in talks with Olympic leadership about League of Legends esports future

Published: 6/Nov/2021 10:50

by Ben Mock

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Riot has confirmed to Dexerto that there is an ongoing conversation between the company and Olympic leadership about the potential for League of Legends to appear as a medal event at multi-sport events, such as the Olympics.

League of Legends is one of eight esports titles that will debut as medal events at the 2022 Asian Games. It marks a major step for the game and esports as a whole.

Global Head of League of Legends Esports Naz Aletaha has confirmed to Dexerto that Riot is in conversation with Olympic leadership as the company eyes potential further expansion in the future.

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Riot Global Head of League of Legends Esports Naz Aletaha
Riot Games
Global Head of League of Legends Naz Aletaha confirmed there are ongoing talks between Riot and Olympic leadership

Olympic esports?

League of Legends made its Asian Games debut in 2018. It was one was of six titles showcased as part of the esports demonstration event. The League event was won by China, led by iconic player Jian ‘Uzi’ Zhao. They prevailed over South Korea, whose team featured none other than Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok.

However, the step from demonstration event to medal event is a major one that could have massive implications for the future of esports.

“We are excited to see esports continue to gain more mainstream momentum and recognition,” Aletaha told Dexerto via a spokesperson, “The inclusion of League of Legends as a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games is a major development for the region and furthers the potential for participation in future multi-sport opportunities.”

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The inclusion of League at the Asian Games inevitably raises the question – will we see League, or esports in general, at the Olympics?

“We continue to have conversations with the various leaders at the Olympics,” Aletaha’s response continued.

China face Korea in the 2018 Asian Games League of Legends demonstration event final
OCA/Riot Games
Could League’s inclusion at the Asian Games help it build a platform for Olympic status in the future?

Aletaha’s comments indicate Riot is still early in the process that could eventually lead to League becoming an Olympic sport. It’s a process that involves esports as a whole being formally recognized by the IOC and successfully filing a petition to become an Olympic sport. The latter is something that Riot has little control over.

“The events that are contested at the Summer and Winter Olympics are ultimately a decision for the IOC,” Aletaha said.

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The IOC conducts a review of Olympic sports prior to every Olympiad, adding and removing sports as it feels necessary. While it’s a grueling process, there are two factors already working in League’s favor.

A strong showing at the Asian Games will highlight the viability of esports at multi-sport events. There is also the trend of less traditional sports being admitted to the Olympics in recent years. Tokyo 2020 added surfing and skateboarding, while breakdancing will debut at Paris 2024.

However, Aletaha also stressed Riot’s current mission when it comes to League of Legends esports.

“In the meantime, we remain focused on delivering great LoL Esports experiences directly to our fans,” she said.

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Image of the Los Angeles cityscape
Alek Leckszas/CCASA 4.0
Los Angeles is set to host the 2028 Olympics and marks the earliest potential debut for esports

Fans may have to wait some time for a potential esports Olympic debut, with Los Angeles 2028 being the earliest Olympiad the sport could appear at.

There is also every possibility that like with the Asian Games, esports may first appear as a demonstration event before being given medal status.

However, confirmation that esports as the Olympics is something that major companies like Riot are working on is likely to bring joy to many fans.