Jan. 8 was a massive day for League of Legends and Riot Games. For League of Legends, the newest season began, officially ending the preseason. A new champion was announced, and plans for the rest of 2021 were revealed. In the slew of announcements, it became easy to lose track of some of Riot’s other games, most notably, Wild Rift.
Not to be outdone by any of their sister development teams, Riot’s Wild Rift team released a ten-minute video detailing the game’s rollout plan, events, skins, and esports plans.
Riot's Plans for Competitive and Esports in 2021
Riot already has plans in place to begin regional esports competitions in South East Asia (SEA) and Japan in early 2021. The game was released on mobile platforms in those regions in 2020, they were some of the first areas to gain access to the game. Riot has remained firm on their commitment to roll out the game to the Americas in March of 2021 but emphasized that the release schedule has been slower than they would have liked.
Details on the esports system itself are sparse, but Riot stated that the establishment of a competitive scene in SEA and Japan are the first steps in creating an esports ecosystem “for players to compete globally.” A ranked system is also set to be released in early 2021.
Historically Riot has taken a long view of developing esports scenes, investing heavily and early in developing their games’ competitive scenes. League of Legends celebrated its 10th anniversary of World Championships in October 2020, and the company made overtures at the coming decade being a movement towards League of Legends’ 20th anniversary.
The release of new games in the franchise is part of Riot’s ongoing plan to expand their esports ecosystem to multiple games. 2020 also brought the introduction of Valorant and its accompanying competitive scene which hopes to rival the likes of CS:GO. Whether Wild Rift will come to dominate the competitive mobile landscape is yet to be seen, the true test will come when the game releases in the West this year.