Riot Games, makers of games such as League of Legends, Valorant and Legends of Runeterra, has announced the closure of their Australian operations.
The news immediately spread like wildfire among the local League of Legends scene, which has built up around the Oceanic Pro League, the professional circuit for League of Legends in Australia. Not long after professional casters, teams and players began subtweeting about the news, Riot confirmed that the Oceanic Pro League was being dissolved. “So today we are announcing the dissolution of the OPL and the closure of Riot’s Sydney office, as it primarily focused on operating the league,” Riot said in a post.
The closure comes a year after Riot began downsizing the OPL, and Riot directly said that the Australian market was no longer sufficient to support the OPL financially. “Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our teams and players, the OPL has not met our goals for the league, and we do not believe that the market is currently able to support a professional league.”
Australia would still have a competitive lifeline in League, with OCE being added to the LCS from 2021 onwards. “Beginning with the 2021 season, we are adding OCE to the competitive territory for the LCS, so OCE players will no longer take an import slot on LCS rosters,” Riot said.
The dissolution of the OPL means that teams and team owners’ investments in the Australian scene are effectively void. Riot won’t be expanding the LCS or offering more slots for existing team owners.
Here is Riot Games’ statement in full:
When we started this journey five years ago, we set out to build an esports scene in a region without a competitive esports presence. From those humble beginnings, we enabled top players to become pros, and we gave fans a place to cheer loudly.
At Riot Games, we want to build competitive and sustainable leagues that drive commercial growth and fan engagement and that support professional play as a full-time career. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our teams and players, the OPL has not met our goals for the league, and we do not believe that the market is currently able to support a professional league.
So today we are announcing the dissolution of the OPL and the closure of Riot’s Sydney office, as it primarily focused on operating the league. However, this is not the end of League esports in OCE. We remain committed to supporting our pro players in the region with a path to continue their careers moving forward. Beginning with the 2021 season, we are adding OCE to the competitive territory for the LCS, so OCE players will no longer take an import slot on LCS rosters. This will open up new opportunities in North America for top OPL players. We will also hold qualifying tournaments in OCE for both MSI and Worlds in 2021, ensuring teams from the region will continue to be represented at our two major global events next season.
With all that being said, Riot remains fully committed to supporting all players in OCE, and we are excited for what’s to come in 2021 and beyond.
Update: Riot Games’ have confirmed that 10 full-time staff will be affected as a result of the office closure. Support for servers, player services and player customer support will be handled out of North America, as it has done for the past year.
“We’re actively supporting everyone on the ground through this transition as we wind down operations (whether that means exploring positions on our internal job board or looking for new opportunities outside of Riot),” a Riot Games representative told Kotaku Australia.