From Arcane to VCT: How 2021 resurrected Riot Games

Lauren Bergin
league of legends lol arcane silco looks at camera

Riot Games has been on everyone’s lips in the past year, for a number of reasons. From their League of Legends-inspired Netflix Show, Arcane, to the insanely popular Valorant Champions Tour (VCT,) here’s how Riot Games dominated 2021.

In a handful of areas, Riot Games has smashed it out of the park this year. From League of Legends to Valorant, Riot Forge to Legends of Runeterra, the publisher has cemented itself as one of the world’s premiere gaming behemoths all over again.

Despite several falls from grace throughout the past few years, specifically allegations of gender discrimination, which, even after such a successful year, cannot be swept under the rug, Riot has retaken the throne as the king of both the casual and competitive entertainment sphere – and here’s why.

league of legends lol arcane jinx looks angrily at camera
Just like Jinx, Riot was taking no prisoners this year.

Mastery of the Arcane

Of course, one of Riot’s biggest wins this year is Arcane, the League of Legends-inspired Netflix show. Having already been renewed for a second season, fans both old and new have been inspired to take to the Rift once more because of just how good the show was.

And you don’t just have to take my word on it – Rotten Tomatoes gives the show 100% on the Tomatometer and IMDb gives it 9.2 out of 10. Arcane was a damn good series, and the world knows it.

With avid fans imagining parallel stories taking place in the frosty world of the Freljord, or the palatial city streets of Demacia, the excitement is real. Arcane has brought League of Legends back to the forefront of popular culture, and the hype train doesn’t look to be reaching its destination anytime soon.

league of legends arcane caitlyn and vi
Caitlyn and Vi’s relationship has become the talk of Runeterra.

Ruined King? More like Riot King

Not only did we see League of Legends take to the big screen, we also saw the first games come out of Riot Forge, Riot Games’ sister company that publishes spin-offs based on the League of Legends universe.

While the adorable Hextech Mayhem wasn’t ever going to make the Game of the Year list, the highly anticipated Ruined King RPG shattered expectations and marked the indie studio as one to watch. Finally allowing players a bit of open-world freedom, the turn-by-turn title breathed fresh air into the company’s age-old MOBA.

Not only this, it finally allowed players to dive deep into the lore behind some of their favorite characters. Finally, we understand how Illaoi and Miss Fortune’s marriage of convenience came about, we’ve worked out how Yasuo and Ahri tick. Ruined King (and Hextech Mayhem to a lesser extent) was exactly what the franchise needed to sate the demands of hungry fans.

There were also lots of Poros, and you can never go wrong with Poros.

league of legends lol ruined king pyke
From Poros to Pyke, Ruined King has it all.

Valorant Champions Tour was to ‘die for’

Allow me to pivot away from League of Legends, however, and hone in on Riot Games’ flagship FPS, Valorant.

For a variety of reasons that would take too long to go into, I never felt like Valorant was a game that I should be playing, despite enjoying the core gameplay.

Enter VCT. As an esports fan craving some Valorant action, the Valorant Champions Tour was perfect. Sure, there was a slew of technical pauses that often burst the atmospheric bubble a little, but the upsets, the high-level gameplay, and the level of production meant that millions of other fans and I were gearing up for days of Valorant action all throughout December.

The viewership stats alone prove how much of a resounding success the first world championship was.

Not only have I managed to acquire even more esports merch post-VCT, but I’ve been playing Valorant again. I’ve got that sense of freedom back, that “IDGAF” attitude. And boy have I played out of my mind (by my casual standards) during my last few games.

valorant champions tour vct caster pansy looks at hypoc
Snuggling up under a blanket watching these two cast some insane Valorant action has basically been my December.

2021 has been Riot Games’ year, but it’s also been a year where we’ve reconnected with their games in new, inspiring ways. Arcane, Ruined King, and Hextech Mayhem all made League of Legends appealing again. The Valorant Champions Tour-inspired players to channel their inner Acend and blow their enemies out of the water.

Riot Games is back, at least in terms of its new releases and esports ventures, and its player base is back, too.

I have Riot Games in my veins, and much like my awful poetry, my League and Valorant journeys won’t be ending anytime soon.

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