Wild Rift is dying in the West, and Riot isn’t helping the nosedive

Terry Oh
Wild Rift content creators

Wild Rift is struggling in the West, with many big-name content creators looking to quit the game. The issues became especially problematic after Riot pulled support for the Western esports scene, with many feeling like developers continue to neglect the community’s pleas for change.

Though a small number of players in the Western regions initially started playing Wild Rift as a beginner-friendly alternative to League of Legends, the game never gained much traction in the West. Despite the lack of widespread appeal, many were still hopeful for the game’s growth.

“I’ll be very honest here. The game itself is by far the best game I have access to as of now,” Kerxx, a co-owner of RiftGuides, told Dexerto.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a mobile title or a PC game – the game’s pace is amazing for modern times compared to others. Yet this almost perfect game (outside of a lot of balancing & matchmaking issues) makes you suffer quite a lot – but only if you are part of the very top.”

But now, two years after its initial release, players and creators are worried about Wild Rift’s future direction across both content creation and esports. Opportunities are dwindling, and the game’s environment for high-elo players, who are often also content creators, is becoming more and more inhospitable. Its Western esports operations have since been canceled, and content creators’ concerns, which they voiced since the game’s initial release, remain as pervasive as ever.

Kerxx is not alone. Dexerto has spoken to a number of Wild Rift content creators and prominent community figures to understand the game’s gradual decline, and how Riot’s actions aren’t helping avoid the stall.

How a poor high elo experience pushes out top creators

A common problem that remains pervasive among creators appears to be the ranked system — a consensus HellsDevil, iTzStu4rt, and Kerxx seem to share.

Riot prioritizes the lower, less skilled player base, which intends to increase Wild Rift’s widespread appeal. They created a ranked system that rewards players for simply playing the game, rather than properly gauging skill. For context, players can easily reach Master rank with a 45% win rate by spamming the game.

But by implementing a system that rewards those playing poorly, those at the top inevitably suffer.

What results is a huge discrepancy in skill among the players in high-elo, where both the poorly performing and highly performing players are frustrated by those they are matched up with.

“The better your stats are, the worse your teammates will be to balance out both teams,” Kerxx explained. “Sounds pretty neat — but in reality, it’s absolutely destructive and toxic at the same time.

“Speaking about being positive: there is little to be positive about. Master, Grandmaster, or Challenger –you all get into the same games and it’s a literal clown show.

“The only way to remain somewhat positive is to view the entire ranked mode as a theme park where you just observe craziness over and over and over again for personal amusement.”

It’s leaving content creators feeling high and dry, and seeing some of the people trying their best to promote the game to all stop caring entirely.

“I’m not motivated to create Wild Rift content at all,” popular Wild Rift content creator HellsDevil said. “I stick to games that I love. But I don’t love Wild Rift anymore.

“That moment when they changed matchmaking from the LP system to the marks, that’s when they ruined it for me. I used to play eight hours a day, because I loved Wild Rift. But from that moment on, it shifted to only playing 2-3 hours — just to get the content out.

“That was when it was fun, when you would actually get matched up against high elo players.”

The gameplay itself is quite polished. Balancing and quality of life changes allow Wild Rift to stand out among its peers. But the issues lie in the high elo pool, which essentially punishes players for being good at the game, and therefore creates a broken ranked experience.

This results in content creators having a love-hate relationship with the game, and the top-ranked players losing motivation to continue their grind, especially after the collapse of its esports scene.

Why bother in the West?

Primarily due to low viewership, the Western Wild Rift esports scene was shut down heading into 2023. Riot pulled support and funding for the Western side of the esport, which forced the professional organizations and players surrounding the scene to fend for themselves. This resulted in many big names in the Wild Rift community stepping away.

RixGG, one of the strongest western Wild Rift teams, was dissolved. Other orgs, such as world-renowned T1, saw the struggling esports scene and preemptively pulled the plug on their Wild Rift lineups.

But the shutdown of the Western esports scene doesn’t affect only the competitive landscape. It very much trickles into content creation, as a large majority of the English-speaking content creators are either professional players or those who are involved in the esports scene.

Be it through coaching, covering the tournaments, or even casting, content creators’ involvement with the Wild Rift esports increased their validity within the community — thereby indirectly cutting support for many Wild Rift content creators, such as Jinko and HellsDevil.

“I edited a series of 15 episodes for HellsDevil destined to the WREC YouTube channel, which started in February 2021 and ended around October 2022,” Jinko told Dexerto.

“We were hoping to develop more projects for Riot, and I had the secret hope to be able to become a full-time editor at some point, whether it be for content creators or for Riot directly. I am disappointed to hear that it had no chance of ever happening anymore, but am aware that I am one of the least affected people in this story.”

Kerxx, who was heavily involved as a coach in the Western esports scene and continues to make content for Riot to this day, shared his input on the death of the Western esports scene.

“Since I was personally involved and viewed it as a passion project it really did sting a bit.

“On another note, if I am not mistaken, orgs were presented a two-year plan and suddenly after one year everyone called quits. Logically speaking: Viewership and everything is too low — that is a fact. But on the other hand, where is the advertisement and where are the collabs to make the game more known?”

If Riot provided more support to the creators through community outreach and recognition, content creators wouldn’t struggle so much. But the fact of the matter is, they are severely lacking in this department.

Content creators left wondering about Wild Rift’s future

With the Western esports scene having shut down, a lot of priority and focus on esports-related coverage has been since phased out of their official content cycle. Outside a very small handful of creators, the others are left essentially dry, with very minimal support or recognition for their efforts. And even for the support that they give, it does little to help in the grand scheme.

“Being a Riot Partner for Wild Rift gives you two advantages: Monthly Wild Cores that you cannot properly give away as some regions are not compatible with yours, and patch note previews which drop right before updates,” Jinko explained.

“I know some players would love to have as many Wild Cores as I do, and to be able to read patch notes 24 hours before they drop, but you must understand that these things are virtually useless in the creation process.

“Wild Rift content feels stale because, provided the tools we have, what can we make aside from gameplay commentary and guides without spending 40 hours on a video that is not what the community wants anyway?”

The issue wouldn’t be as bad if Riot properly recognized creators’ videos on their many platforms, or even provided proper tools to record gameplay. Such a tool could be a high-quality replay tool that actually has the function to rewind, a function players have been begging for since Wild Rift’s initial release.

But the lack of support inevitably creates a content creation meta where creators don’t find it worth their time and effort to develop high-quality content. Instead, gameplay commentary becomes the norm, a phenomenon HellsDevil explains.

“I have no motivation to create high-effort content. No motivation to pour 10 hours in one video, since I know it’ll get the same viewership as a guide that takes 30 minutes,” he said.

Without any direct support and changes from Riot, content creation for Wild Rift will continue to suffer. The organic growth for the game isn’t enough to support and expand content creation, as creators struggle to create engaging content after the initial period of updates passes through.

If Riot doesn’t step up its game and address the community’s longstanding concerns, organizations such as ProGuides and big-name creators will only continue to lose interest in Wild Rift.

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About The Author

Terry is a former Dexerto writer from South Korea. He spends his spare time grinding competitive team games, and loves creating content for a wide variety of games, especially Wild Rift and League of Legends.