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John Needham Promoted to Riot Games First President of Esports

John Needham (pictured) to lead Riot's esports titles and operations.
John Needham (pictured) to lead Riot's esports titles and operations. / Image courtesy of Riot Games

Today, Riot Games have announced the promotion of John Needham as the company's first President of Esports. This leadership addition becomes the latest step in Riot Games' plan for the future of their esports titles.

Needham previously served as Riot's Global Head of Esports following his previous roles as Managing Director of Europe and Head of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC). With this new role, Needham now reports to Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent, along with four other presidents: Shauna Spenley, President, Entertainment; Scott Gelb, President, Games; Ryan Crosby, President, Publishing; and Dylan Jadeja, President, Enterprises.

"As we head into 2022, we’re placing our biggest bets yet on esports to deliver the most connected, immersive experiences for the millions of players worldwide who love our games," said Laurent.

"John Needham’s leadership and vision for our esports business has helped us grow our fandom exponentially over the past few years. It’s why I’m excited to formalize a major division at Riot Games, with John reporting directly into me, to support and drive our big, bold swings that make it even better to be a player.”

Needham recently green-lit a multi-million initiative known as Project Stryker, an initiative to increase the capacity of Riot’s esports content and events with a centralized broadcast model anchored by Remote Broadcast Centers located around the world. The first center is set to go online in Dublin, Ireland, in early 2022.

“Riot Games has led the explosive growth of esports over the past decade, and I’m proud to be part of the team charged with establishing our portfolio as a foundation for the future of sports,” said Needham. “Esports embodies Riot’s mission to inspire the most meaningful and lasting player experiences."

“By further professionalizing our sports, innovating and focusing on sustainability and competitive integrity, and making esports at Riot Games inclusive to all, we will thrive together with new and existing fans. We also will create additional value for our partners and plan to set the highest player-driven standards for competitive gaming well into the next decade.”

Under Needham's new leadership will be League of Legends Esports (LoL Esports), VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT), Wild Rift Esports, and multiple other games under a new Organized Play umbrella at Riot Games (Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and future games).