Riot Games has announced that the Australia and New Zealand-based League of Legends pro-league, the Oceanic Pro League (OPL), will cease operation immediately.
Riot’s Sydney office will also close and players in the OCE region will be integrated into the North American player pool. 2021 Mid-Season Invitational and World Championship qualifiers will still be held for the region.
In an official statement, Malte Wagener, Managing Director, NA & OCE and Tom Martell, Director of Operations, Global Esports cite that “the OPL has not met our goals for the league, and we do not believe that the market is currently able to support the league in its current form.”
The decision comes following Riot Games generating $1.5B (~£1.16B) in revenue in 2019 and the cancellation of the OPL’s operating subsidy in December of the same year.
The employment situation for players, support staff and business personnel across the eight teams competing in the league is unclear. Players will be integrated into the NA region, with LCS teams no longer requiring an available import slot to field OCE players. They will, however, be competing for spots in a crowded market and the future of players competing in the Oceanic Challenger Series (OCS) will likely be reassessed.
While qualifiers will still be held for MSI and Worlds next year, it is yet to be announced as to what the structure to the qualifiers looks like. Wagener and Martell commented that “Riot remains fully committed to supporting all players in OCE, and we are excited for what’s to come in 2021 and beyond.”
Esports Insider says: This is a massive blow to professional Legends of Legends and esports more broadly for the region. Not only for players but the infrastructure around them. Organisations competing in the OPL already took a serious blow with the removal of the operating subsidy for this year, but this will likely require a proper reassessment of their viability. Along with outpourings of anguish, prominent members in the OCE scene are already brainstorming where to go from here.