Riot Games Pulling Back from Wild Rift Esports Support in APAC

wild rift esports

Riot Games has announced that the Wild Rift League (WRL), which encompassed both China and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, will now exclude the APAC region.

This means the end of Riot’s direct support for Wild Rift esports in the APAC region.

In a statement, Riot said they want to “pivot to a model that relies on grassroots and community-led competitions” for the APAC region, as they believe this is the “most sustainable and enabling path” for the game’s esports ecosystem there.

Why is Riot Scaling Back Support for Wild Rift Esports?

The decision to remove the APAC region from the WRL comes after two seasons of the league struggling to garner significant viewership outside of China.

According to Esports Charts, the peak viewership for the WRL in 2023 could not exceed 10,000 viewers outside of China.

This poor viewership performance, coupled with Riot’s global announcement in 2022 to stop supporting Wild Rift esports tournaments globally except in Asia, suggests the company is not seeing the desired growth and return on investment for its esports efforts around the title.

What Does the Future Hold for Wild Rift Esports?

Despite these detrimental changes to the esports ecosystem, Riot Games continues to update Wild Rift with new content, suggesting the game still has a strong and dedicated community.

However, the lack of support for content creators and esports tournaments will likely hamper any substantial growth in the game’s player base going forward.

The move to a more community-driven esports model could be risky, especially at a time when competing mobile MOBAs like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) and Honor of Kings are investing heavily in their own esports ecosystems.

MLBB, in particular, has a well-established competitive scene, while Honor of Kings has announced a $15 million global esports investment.

In 2022, Riot’s President of Esports, John Needham, said the company could step back in to support Wild Rift esports if the community bands together to host grassroots tournaments and build big communities around the game.

However, given the rapid growth of competing titles and Riot’s current stance, this seems unlikely at this point.

The company appears focused on a more hands-off, community-driven, third-party approach for Wild Rift esports, at least in regions outside of China.

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