ESL Gaming has partnered with Guinevere Capital to reintroduce a top-tier Oceanic League of Legends league in 2021.
Earlier this year, LoL publisher Riot Games pulled the plug on the region’s top competitive league, discontinuing the Oceanic Pro League (OPL).
However, in a new development, ESL and Guinevere will obtain a three-year license to operate a LoL competition in the region, with an option to extend a further three years. There will be eight teams in the new league in 2021 — the same number as the previous OPL.
When the OPL was disbanded in October, an official Riot Games statement read that the publisher “[does not] believe that the market is currently able to support the [OPL] in its current form”. Riot was not prepared to front the costs associated with the league given the demand in the region.
“From running the first official tournaments on the Oceanic servers to helping produce the OPL Finals at the Melbourne Esports Open, the ESL team have always had competitive League of Legends in our DNA,” said Nick Vanzetti, ESL Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific Japan. “So when the opportunity to build a new league, and create new opportunities for League of Legends players in Oceania presented itself, we jumped on it.”
Dave Harris, Managing Director of Guinevere Capital also commented on the agreement: “OPL was our first step into esports back in 2016 through a team investment and despite having moved on to be involved in other regions, titles and projects since, we have always been parochial supporters of the OCE scene and LoL in particular. Our philosophy has been based around developing young talent.
“We genuinely believe this new league can be a case study for elsewhere in the world with the freedom to innovate and build a sustainable esports model in what is still an emerging region.”
This year Oceanic org Legacy Esports impressed by reaching the Worlds 2020 play-in stage, subsequently placing second in their group behind Team Liquid before being eliminated by Chinese team LGD Gaming.
More information on the league will be shared in 2021, according to a release.
Esports Insider says: Nobody was glad to see the OPL discontinued, but it was clear Riot didn’t feel the investment was worth it. This new third-party licensing agreement shows the intent of both ESL and Guinevere: despite issues such as poor connectivity in parts of the region, both are willing to fork out for Oceanic League of Legends, and Riot is more than happy to let them.