A year ago, Riot's culture award tended to … underwhelm. We gave one guy a tub of disinfecting wipes for his heroic efforts to "clean up" the forums, for example. On another occasion, we gave another Rioter a half-empty can of warm soda. These "awards" were intentionally bad. The intent was to make it clear that being awesome was reward enough. We didn't want to dole out cheesy plaques or give away unimaginative restaurant gift certificates, and we certainly didn't want to create some valuable extrinsic reward that could undermine intrinsic motivations.
But that's a shame, because awesome shit was getting done and we owed it to the Rioters we were recognizing to do a better job telling the stories of their heroic deeds. So this May, we upgraded the award just a bit. We created a trophy that's weighty, that's permanent, and that – most importantly – is shared by every Rioter around the world.
We call the new award THE CHAMPIONS CUP (sorry about the all-caps, but that's how the engravers wrote it on the side of the cup), and we award it for ACTS OF MERITORIOUS RIOTOUSNESS. Seriously – that's engraved on the side of the cup, also in all-caps.
Unveiled alongside the Riot Games Manifesto in front of 900+ Rioters and their significant others at our big gathering in Las Vegas, THE CHAMPIONS CUP is awarded to teams and individuals who go way above and beyond to uphold one of values enshrined in the manifesto:
- Player experience first
- Challenge convention
- Focus on talent and team
- Take play seriously
- Stay hungry, stay humble
When someone's spotted doing something awesome in the name of these values, we take note, engrave their name on the cup, then tell the rest of the company about their deeds at the next Show and Tell. Stories that we've told (and retold) this year include:
- The tale of a couple of Rioters who have been very, very effective recruiters on behalf of the company, bringing in talented people who can help us take League of Legends to the next level
- The tale of Keenon from IT who didn't feel comfortable when players asked him for his signature at PAX and Gamescom, so responded by humbly asking players for their autographs in return, because, after all, players are the real stars in our firmament
- The tale of Irina, Matt, and Matthew, whose heroic efforts ensured that the Romanian-language version of League of Legends sounds pretty damned awesome
- The tale of Eric and Andrew, who created a 36-hour hackathon called Thunderdome, out of which came ARAM and a number of other projects that have challenged everyone's notions of what it's possible to accomplish in less than two days
No matter which Riot location winners call home, the cup's sent to them. Once the cup arrives, the winner takes possession and takes his or her team out with the cup to test its ability to be repeatedly filled and emptied. We're happy to report that the cup's beverage-holding technology works great!
The Champions Cup in action: