Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends: Wild Rift, is making significant changes to Wild Rift Esports and doubling down on what it considers the strongest region for the game's professional scene.
Beginning 2023, Riot will centralise the operation and focus of Wild Rift Esports in Asia, the developer and publisher said in an announcement made on Tuesday (22 November).
The move will see Wild Rift Esports (WRE) being discontinued and replaced by the Wild Rift league in Asia, which means that all other regions outside of Asia won’t be included for next season.
Instead, twelve teams from China's Wild Rift League (WRL) and eight teams from other Asian regions will make up the league in 2023, with the splits occurring twice yearly.
In their announcement, Riot also mentioned that they will "unlock the opportunity for third parties to host events" in other regions to give them the time to "grow organically".
Wild Rift Esports had a disappointing following in North America and Europe in its inaugural year. In July, Wild Rift Icons viewership averaged between 35,800 to 50,400 viewers outside of China and South Korea.
Former Wild Rift Esports director Leo Faria previously shared with Yahoo Southeast Asia in July that although they believe the first Wild Rift Esports season was a success, it could have been better in many ways.
He also confirmed in the same interview that China had the highest views, which would further explain Riot's focus on the Asian pro scene.
Western Wild Rift community ‘sad’ and 'heartbroken' over news
Before the announcement, multiple personalities and fans in the Western Wild Rift community had already started sharing their reactions as the rumours spread over the weekend.
Many expressed shock and sadness over the news, which had not been officially announced at that time.
Wild Rift Icons Caster and content creator Christiaan “HellsDevil” Enwiah was one of the few who caught wind of the news over the weekend and expressed his sadness on Twitter.
It's a sad day for Wild Rift fans/players...
— Christiaan Enwiah (@HellsDevil_) November 19, 2022
British Wild Rift content creator and colour caster Stuart "ITzSTU4RT" Gilson, who also casted at Icons, tweeted his best memories in Wild Rift Esports:
Memories... 2022 has been an incredible year from starting off casting in January to casting the FIRST and ONLY #WildRift Icons!
Even though 2023 will have no official competitive circuit with Riot I hope we can come together and put on some amazing community tournaments ❤️ https://t.co/FAC7TdHoLC pic.twitter.com/ELIScoiSgE
— iTzSTU4RT (@iTzSTU4RT) November 21, 2022
Meanwhile, Rix.GG coach Arnaud “Dooms” van Marcke de Lummen from Europe took his feedback to Twitter and YouTube.
Dooms said that Riot did not reach out to any of the Wild Rift teams in Europe and that all teams didn’t have a single clue about the announcement until it was finalised, leaving players and teams feeling "trapped".
My reaction to Wild Rift Esports latest announcement:https://t.co/Fc2Z7F9mO9
— RIX Dooms (@Dooms_WR) November 21, 2022
The move had further implications for the teams outside of Asia.
Shortly after Riot's official statement, TSM Brasil announced that they were parting with the Wild Rift scene, posting highlights of their team in the last two years.
Hoje anunciamos nossa despedida do cenário de Wild Rift.
Foram 2 anos de batalhas e conquistas, de uma família dentro e fora de jogo. Uma história linda, um capítulo inesquecível da #TSM no Brasil.
Aos nossos jogadores, aos fiéis torcedores e a esta linda comunidade: obrigado. pic.twitter.com/Yd4Pl1qfF4
— TSM Brasil 🇧🇷 🏆 (@TSM_BR) November 21, 2022
The Latin American and Brazilian Wild Rift Esports scene has had a robust and passionate following since the game's launch, with the continent being another hotbed for mobile games, much like the Asian region.
Riot said in their announcement that they would wait and see how the Wild Rift pro scene evolves organically in regions outside of Asia.
"We’ve learned a lot in our inaugural year of Wild Rift Esports, and we’re so grateful for the support from the community, players, and teams from around the globe," Riot said.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.