Before the game has had a full global release, Riot Games is ready to commit to supporting the esports development of its first fully mobile title League of Legends: Wild Rift. On Friday, the company announced it would “take the initial steps to build the Wild Rift esports ecosystem.”
As it has with previous game launches, Riot will not invest in a full franchised system or global league structure in Wild Rift’s first year, but will instead take time to experiment and observe community response to various competitions. Riot Games head of global esports John Needham said in a release that the first official competitions will “come to life later in 2021.”
Some initial plans have already begun to take place, particularly in Southeast Asia where mobile esports are already a dominant, thriving ecosystem. Riot has tapped ESL Gaming to operate official professional and collegiate esports for Wild Rift in Malaysia and Thailand. North American esports organization Noble Esports has already signed a Wild Rift roster in India despite the game not yet releasing in the region. Southeast Asia and Japan are expected to begin high level esports competition early in 2021.
While details remain scarce, Riot also reaffirmed its plans to expand esports operations for Legends of Runeterra and Teamfight Tactics in 2021
Additionally, Riot announced that Shenzhen, China will host the 2021 League of Legends World Championship Finals. China was made the host for Worlds 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic prohibiting the tournament’s traditional multi-city tour through its host region. Additional host cities for the earlier rounds of this year’s tournament will be revealed at a later date.