Why Has Riot Decided To Stop Grassroots High School Competition?
On March 9, 2020 Riot Games announced new guidelines on its Community Competition Guidelines. Basically, how independent companies and groups can organize and host tournaments for League of Legends. Among other guidelines changed were new guidelines on how organizations can run tournaments specifically targeted at the university and high school levels.
I am the tournament director for one of the longest running high school tournaments in the midwest for League. Myself and the organization that I work for made it our goal 4 years ago to make esports as easy to transition from the high school level to the collegiate level as it is for traditional sports, and to begin down that path we looked to start with League: the number one, most played esport around the world. We've given hundreds of thousands in scholarship money to the top performing teams of our competition and have done so with no cost to enter for the schools. At the end of the day the only thing they pay for is their transportation to our live event where the top 16 teams play for the top prizes. Last year we had nearly 64 teams from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio compete in a 3 month long season, with the best the midwest has to offer. One of our finalist teams this past year featured a top 50 rank challenger player who just won the title as the Best Yasuo 1v1 player at this years Last Breath Invitational beating out the likes of Voyboy and Yassuo. This has been an incredible experience for not only my team of tournament officials, but also for all of the high school athletes that have competed in our tournament over the last four years, some of whom have been actively recruited to different colleges in the area based on their performance in this competition.
This was looking to be a great opportunity for the continued growth of midwest esports athletes until Riot Games updated their guidelines. As of yesterday (when this post was made) the following rules, among others, were added for tournaments that are specifically targeted towards High Schools and Universities:
Competitions must start and finish within 14 days.
No more than 16 schools may participate in a given Competition
Competitions may not be sponsored or sanctioned by an esports governing body.
The name of your event cannot use the following words: Varsity, Season, Championship, Post-Season, League, or Playoffs.
Needless to say my organization currently does all of the following except we are not sanctioned by any governing body instead using the rules laid out by Riot Games in their official tournament rules released in 2015.
Now it is my knowledge that Riot Games has recently entered into a partnership deal with PlayVS, an esports competition platform that is trying to market itself nation wide as the Official Platform and League for High School and College Esports. The cost for participation is $64/player including any subs; making the barrier of entry for high schools that don't have the full support of their school board that much more difficult. As of writing this post, PlayVS currently only services 14 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and Virginia) with a championship. These are the only states that entered into a deal to use PlayVS to support all of their high school competitions. Reading you may notice that not a single of my midwestern states are listed here.
This decision to cut out the grassroots organizations and competitions leaves many of my competitors without an official competition to look forward to each year, a competition to excite more high schools to offer esports as an official program/club of the school, a competition to allow the students to market themselves to the ever increasing competitiveness of making a collegiate team and playing competitively at the next level.
I cannot understand why Riot would make this decision when not even a third of the nation is on board with this.
Riot has made new competition guidelines that make it near impossible for organizations to operate a tournament for high school athletes. The only option remaining for these students is to utilize a model that is recognized in only 14 states that does not offer a championship for those states not officially affiliated with them.
I understand that community tournaments have been exploited in the past, so I am completely understanding of the change to those rules. These are specifically rules that are directed at High School and Collegiate tournaments.
Under these guidelines there is a section that specifically calls out these competitions: https://developer.riotgames.com/policies/na-tournaments4,907 Read the full article on Reddit