The League of Legends European Championship has announced the end to its NEOM partnership amid waves of backlash. Fans, Riot Games employees, and LEC casters made their feelings known when the news came out on Wednesday morning. The overall disappointment amongst prominent LEC figures most likely led to the end of the groundbreaking business deal.
— LEC (@LEC) July 30, 2020
Alberto Guerrero, Director of Esports for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) shared a statement apologizing over the deal that left Riot employees “blindsided.” He added the partnership was a”mistake” and emphasized the need for a quick correction. Overall, the LEC admitted they moved too quickly on the opportunity, missing their own expectations.
Ty LEC this is the right thing to do. https://t.co/9wQtdKgGM5
— Mark Yetter (@MarkYetter) July 30, 2020
The statement was recognized by the LEC community as casters let out a sigh of relief. Earlier on Wednesday, Public Relations lead for Valorant Jacqui Collins stated her discomfort for going to work after hearing of the deal. “[sic]this morning, i woke up, saw the partnership, and decided to step away from work for the day,” she tweeted.
this morning, i woke up, saw the partnership, and decided to step away from work for the day.
i'm now glad i don't need to do the same tomorrow. https://t.co/S4IJ1IKP62
— Jacqui Collins (@jacquicollins_) July 30, 2020
Against Riot values
LEC analysts made their voices known, seeing the Saudi Arabia mega-city as a representation of anti-LGBTQ views. The partnership went against everything Riot Games valued, including justice and freedom for everyone. Additionally, the deal also went against what the LEC stood for, as they proudly showed off their rainbow-crown Twitter icon.
— Foxdrop (@Foxdroplol) July 29, 2020
Originally, the LEC planned to be a part of NEOM’s growing esports and gaming community. The $500 billion project focused on developing technology and esports in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the city, bordering Egypt, Israel, and Jordan, is being built on native land displacing over 20 thousand Saudi Arabians.
Although this apology is a step in the right direction, the LEC might have lost trust from the esports community. Many Twitter users claimed that the deal should never have happened. In addition, the way the LEC poorly executed the news, leaving employees confused and upset. Nonetheless, this situation left a stain on the LEC’s reputation, something they may need to work hard to fix.
Guerrero ended the statement stating their next steps into correcting the situation: “We’re committed to reexamining our internal structures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”