The AFL has announced that they are holding a joint venture with Riot Games to hold a “premier stadium tournament” for League of Legends in November.
According to the release early this morning, the tournament will be a State of Origin-style event and will mark the beginning of a longer association between the AFL and Riot Games. A “purpose-built esports studio” will be made in Melbourne under the partnership, while the AFL and Riot will also collaborate on growing the local scene.
“League of Legends is something that has a lot of engagement in that 13 to 39 year old market, especially 13-24 year olds, who are very loyal to and to the brand that support it,” AFL general manager of digital, growth and audience Darren Birch told the AFR.
“We’ve done research that shows 22 per cent of AFL fans are also interested in e-sports, so there is a connection there. And I can see a time when our clubs having esports teams is just as common as having an AFLW team, a men’s side or a netball team as some already do. The barriers to entry to having an e-sports team are low in comparison to doing other things.”
The joint venture comes after two AFL teams have already invested into local esports, with the Adelaide Crows and Essendon Bombers both acquiring local teams.
Nigel Smart, chief operating officer of the Adelaide Crows, said it was “wonderful to see the AFL show sporting leadership” with the joint venture. “Having the AFL take this first step into esports is an innovative strategic move which will benefit esports across the board in Australia.”