Riot Games has come under fire from the esports community today for ‘disrespectful’ wording used in its League of Legends World Championship (Worlds) 2021 Pick ‘Ems game.
The predictions game allows fans to predict which teams will win and lose at Worlds 2021, earning them points which ranks them in a global leaderboard.
Tim Sevenhuysen, founder of LoL stats website Oracles Elixir and head of data science at fantasy esports platform Esports One, spotted the wording used in Riot’s Pick ‘Ems game.
This wording was as follows: “Play-ins are happening and we don’t support that fiesta. Sit back, relax, and gather up your posse in preparation for the show.”
The implication, of course, being that the play-ins stage – which precedes the main group stage – isn’t worth watching.
This wording has now been removed from Riot’s Pick ‘Ems game, but not before Tim’s tweet was heavily shared on Twitter and others in the community voiced their opinions on it.
League of Legends personality and host, Sjokz, said: “I’m quite saddened by this wording. [It’s] disrespectful to, one, the fact that play-ins is such an important part of Worlds, and, two, the amazing teams and scenes from the play in regions. Really odd.
“Let’s also not forget those ‘fiesta’ teams kept Mad [Lions] out of groups last year… better put some respect on their names.”
UK caster Nymaera added: “Yikes, not like a bunch of these teams have potential career make-or-break moments coming up in that stage of the tournament or anything. Tongue-in-cheek or not, that’s poor wording.”
Fellow UK caster (and Nymaera’s brother), Initialise, commented: “Way to look down on teams and players that have put their all in to making Worlds. Portraying Play-ins to some kind of trailer for groups and beyond is horrible messaging.”
Others like former UK scene player Tundra and UK LEC host Medic made the prediction that this wording would become a popular copypasta/chat spam.
British esports personality, journalist and critic Thorin also added: “Someone at Riot is low key based.”
Former esports journalist Meg Kay tweeted a more positive response to the community reaction, with a thread listing people to follow who cover League’s minor regions:
Riot has since apologised for the wording.
Luke Cudney, director of esports product management at Riot Games, said: “Today we activated Pick’ems with copy about our intended start. Unfortunately, a member of our team previously wrote placeholder copy meant as an ironic joke due to our frustration in not being able to support Play-Ins, and it was posted live.
“We all love Play-Ins here. This year, we overhauled Pick’ems from the ground up. The pivot to Iceland, late changes to the schedule, uncertainty about which teams would qualify plus technical complexity all resulted in our need to remove Play-Ins from our PIck’ems plans.
“Needless to say, the sentiment reflected in the copy does not reflect our perspective and in fact is just the opposite. We apologise for the mistake.”
The following ten play-ins teams at Worlds 2021, four of which will make it through to the group stage: LNG (LPL), Hanwha Life (LCK), Cloud9 (LCS), Beyond Gaming (PCS), Unicorns of Love (LCL), Infinity Esports (LLA), Galatasaray (TCL), Red Canids (CBLOL), Detonation FocusMe (LJL) and Peace (LCO).
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.