Riot opens League of Legends events for high schools following PlayVS backlash

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High schools across North America can now host season-long League of Legends tournaments of their own against other schools or using third-party tournament organizers outside of PlayVS, Riot Games announced June 8 in a Riot Scholastic Association of America update.

PlayVS is a high school esports tournament organizer that had an exclusive deal with Riot to run school vs. school scholastic tournaments.

The startup business came under fire recently for its lack of transparency around what esports titles it holds exclusive rights for, how its userbase is discontent with its current platform’s performance and business practices as well as a former employee suing the company for pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination.

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Riot ends PlayVS League of Legends high school exclusivity

While the update does not specifically name PlayVS, the new guidelines make it clear that schools can compete against each other without needing to use the startup platform.

“After significant discussion, we’ve determined that the best way to set up high school esports for success is to further open, rather than narrow, avenues for competition and organic growth,” the announcement reads.

“Going forward, our priority with high school esports is to create more opportunities for schools and players to decide how, when, and where they want to compete.”

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But, Riot has specified that schools can only run competitions with other schools in their same state or province and that the competitions cannot crown a national champion.

PlayVS has put out its own statement regarding the news, saying the company has been in communication with Riot and come to an agreement around their operation of League of Legends.

“We remain excited about the future of the title and will continue to invest in our community that plays it,” the PlayVS statement said.

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PlayVS was founded in 2018 and markets itself as a “turnkey” platform for schools looking to join the scholastic esports space. In 2018 the organization also signed a deal with streaming network of the National Federation of State High School Associations, an organization that writes rules for sports played at the high school level.

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High school esports has been a battle ground of non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.

PlayVS signed a contract with NFHS in 2018 to be the high school rule maker’s platform for competitive sports. According to a report by The Washington Post, NFHS is just an advocate for PlayVS and schools can use other tournament organizers for competition if they so choose.

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The company signed a deal to be the exclusive scholastic tournament organizer for the Riot title in 2020.

Riot said at the end of their announcement that it will “closely monitor how organizers, schools and students respond to these significant changes” and will take feedback from those in the community about the changes.

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