Game developer and publisher Riot Games has announced changes to its scholastic and collegiate League of Legends ecosystem.
As a result of the changes, Riot’s exclusive partnership with North American amateur esports platform PlayVS has ended following an extension signed in 2020.
In a statement posted on June 8th, the publisher stated that scholastic League of Legends will be moving to a ‘non-exclusive high school model’, which allows all tournament organisers to host competitions across North America.
PlayVS was the exclusive platform for scholastic competitions for the past two years. The agreement barred other organisers or platforms from hosting official scholastic matches, meaning schools and organisers not using PlayVS — including non-profit scholastic institutions — had stringent restrictions on the events they could hold.
With restrictions lifted, any organiser can now host a ‘Tier 1’ competition for high school teams if schools are within the same state and the event doesn’t claim to crown a national champion. Riot Games claims the changes will create an open and sustainable ecosystem for North American collegiate esports.
“Going forward, our priority with high school esports is to create more opportunities for schools and players to decide how, when, and where they want to compete,” the statement reads.
It comes amidst a wave of criticism and backlash against PlayVS for its wide-reaching exclusivity deals with esports publishers, which critics say is stifling the grassroots high school esports scene.
In March, Upcomer reported on the ramifications of PlayVS’ exclusivity deals on the high school scene. In April the Jacob Wolf Report reported that PlayVS allegedly misled Epic Games, and later that month the Washington Post reported that both Activision Blizzard and Nintendo denied that its deals with PlayVS were exclusive in nature, which PlayVS has repeatedly claimed.
Despite a loss of exclusivity, PlayVS will continue to host scholastic League of Legends tournaments on its platform. In a statement, the platform says it has come to an agreement that allows the company to continue to operate the title. Alongside League of Legends, the platform hosts tournaments across a range of titles including Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. and Hearthstone.
In addition, Riot Games details its long-term strategy for scholastic and collegiate League of Legends. The publisher aims to create official high school state championships across North America, while tournaments operated by third-party organisers will bridge any gaps in the schedule.