Riot Games and the AFL announced today a world first Oceania eSports tournament taking place in Melbourne this November. The League of Legends tournament, called “League of Origin”, is between Australia’s states and territories, and New Zealand. Bringing together the best of the best in the Oceania eSports scene, players will step outside their normal teams to represent their home teams. Riot will be working with two exciting AFL clubs, the Adelaide Crows and Essendon Bombers. The now ongoing partnership is designed to both promote the legitimacy of eSports and expose the AFL to a new audience. On top of the tournament, the AFL and Riot will also work to develop local eSports scenes through new development capabilities. This includes a purpose-build esports studio in Melbourne.
AFL General Manager, Growth, Digital and Audience, Darren Birch states “eSports is one of the most exciting emerging industries to come in and disrupt the traditional sports landscape. Riot are a respected and credible leader in this space, and this event will be a great opportunity to continue on that path.”
Daniel Ringland, Head of Oceanic Esports for Riot Games states “the AFL and Riot are culturally aligned, both being firm believers in putting the fan and player experience first. We’re excited to be paving the way for esports fans in Oceania.”
ESports have gained increased legitimacy as sports over the past year, with Germany officially recognising this earlier in February. However, while eSports are shifting more towards national representation and away from game specific seasonal teams, this partnership marks a significant change. An official partnership between a national sporting league like the AFL and a game developer like Riot gives the legitimacy of this sporting league to eSports. It is unprecedented and will allow both players and spectators to see eSports in the same format as a traditional sport like the AFL.
Birch states “we will bring our expertise and insight to the competition, giving all-star players an opportunity to play with different teams, play in a different tournament structure and in a radically different venue environment.”
Ringland states “the AFL is a world class league, and leads Australian sport in many key areas. From fan engagement through to player welfare and development, they’re the gold standard. We aspire to the same levels of excellence for our pro players and fans of League of Legends esports, so a strategic partnership makes absolute sense.”
The confirmed venue and date of the tournament will be announced in the coming weeks.