This year, Worlds came to Latin America for the first time. While the action has moved to the US, Latin America welcomed Worlds with open arms as players across LATAM came out to support. The Play-In Stage saw custom Luchador masks, a viewing party—with the emphasis on party—at The House of Worlds, and an incredible amount of passion from all the Latin American esports fans who rooted on every team with impressive energy.
But Worlds in Mexico City was also missing a crucial part. Known to friends as Javi and to players as Riot Maggical, Javier España’s impact on Latin American esports, on players, and on Riot, is impossible to fully encapsulate. At just 40 years old, he passed away unexpectedly in May. When Javi passed, Latin American players lost the face of Riot in the region and Riot lost a man who personified what it means to be a Rioter.
“Javi was so passionate, the most passionate of all of us about esports,” said Mariano Vives who worked with Javi in Riot’s Mexico City office. “He was in the middle of our community, he was a pillar in the region for players. He was a great person, he was an excellent dad. He embodied the passion of working in video games every day, he was the best Rioter out there. It was my pleasure to work with him.”
When the team in Mexico City talks about Javi, laughs and tears come in equal measure. He was a colleague, a leader, and most importantly, a friend.
“We signed our contracts with Riot on the same day over seven years ago,” said Juan Moreno, one of Javi’s closest friends at Riot. “We did Denewb (Riot’s week-long onboarding process) together the same week. When you look up Rioter in the dictionary, Javier is what comes up. He did everything for the player and for the community. And having Worlds in Mexico City, this was his dream. So while he isn’t here to see it, we did this for him.”
He was an incredible Rioter who made impacts across all facets of Riot. At the same time, he was a family man who would do anything for his wife and kids.
“Javi was amazing at his job, but his three kids and his wife, they were his absolute priority,” said Santiago Duran, Javi’s Manager for his last few years at Riot. “He would wake up early, cook lunch for his kids, take them to school and come to the office. Once he was there, he was a machine. He did so many amazing things for our office. And he wouldn’t stay late, he never needed to, he would make sure he was back with his family for dinner. But you could also guarantee that he was going to find some time for League or VALORANT later that night when the kids went to bed.”
The Face of Riot for Players in Latin America
When players across all of Latin America had an issue, they’d call Maggical. From support tickets to account issues, all players had to do was tag @RiotMaggical on Twitter and he’d help out—or at least point them in the right direction. A few days before he passed away, there was Maggical, helping players as always.
La verdad no conozco detalles, pero si alguien te puede ayudar esa persona trabaja en Soporte y debes contactarlos enviando un ticket desde la página web— Javier España (@RiotMaggical) May 22, 2022
“Because he worked in esports for so long and he was so public on Twitter, whenever anything would go wrong, the community would look towards Javi,” Santiago said. “Eventually it became one of the most popular memes in the community - #CulpaDeMaggical. It means: ‘it’s Maggical’s fault.’”
Didn’t land your skill shot? #CulpaDeMaggical. Your favorite LLA team lost? #CulpaDeMaggical. The LLA sold out of tickets? #CulpaDeMaggical.
With Javi gone, #CulpaDeMaggical has become a way to remember his impact and honor his legacy. A few weeks after his death, esports teams across Latin America posted the same message:
It’s a testament to what he meant to the community. It’s one thing to be recognized but it's another thing to have the level of relationship with the community that Javi had. It took dedication to the players, passion for the games, and a genuine love for the people who play Riot’s games every day.
“Talking with the community isn’t always easy,” said Rafael Ojeda, the Country Manager for Latin America who worked with Javi for years. “He was there for the memes but also for the tough conversations. He was the face of Riot for the region. When he started, he would get some hate from the community. They were like, ‘oh, you’re responsible for everything that’s bad?’ But over time, and over a lot of responses, the community began to understand his role better. And then it turned around and the community loved him. So then when he’d get hate comments, the community would step up and chastise the person sending them.”
And eventually, the community stepped up to help him answer even more questions.
“He had so many questions coming to him, the community here created a bot on Twitter,” Rafael said. “When people would ask, ‘why did you misbalance this champion?’ Or, ‘why is my account not working?’ He would say ‘no, no I don’t handle that.’ And he said that so many times the community created a bot to point people to a support ticket which answers the question for him. I think he was proud of that bot. It was a testament to how important he was, how visible he was to the community, and how cherished he was. When he passed away, it was a hard blow to the community.”
Over time, the bot itself became a meme as well. People would tag it when anything bad happened in a game. After he passed, the bot was deactivated but thousands of tweets remain.
From Argentina to Chile to Mexico City, Javi’s Journey Took Him Throughout LATAM
Javi, who was born in Argentina, started at Riot in 2015 working out of our office in Santiago, Chile where the LATAM South team was based. As the team grew, Riot moved into one office in Mexico City, the new home base of the entire LATAM team.
“He was my right-hand man on the marketing team here in Mexico City,” Santiago said. “I joined Riot in 2018 and he wasn’t on my team, he was doing esports at the time. But after a couple of weeks we moved him from working on esports to overseeing the content on all our products, both games and esports. And while I was new, he helped me get up to speed on all the various aspects of esports and games that he was already an expert on.”
When he started at Riot, he worked in esports production. His passion and drive saw him promoted over and over until he became the Channel Strategy Manager in 2022. But Javi’s impact can’t be summarized with just a title.
“Javi was the most willing Rioter I know, he would always jump on a grenade if someone needed to,” Rafael said. “If there was an issue, he’d say ‘I can solve that.’ If you asked the team who offered the most help, I’m sure they’d all say Javi. He was everywhere from player support to publishing to brand to esports.”
The team in Mexico City, and Riot in general, will continue to feel his impact on things they work with every day.
“The first thing he said when he joined my team was, ‘can I change the process for how we do content?’” Santiago remembered. “A week passed and he presented me with this complex spreadsheet with everything linked together and walked me through it. Once we implemented it, it was absolutely transformational. Today we publish over 300 pieces of content a week. It never would have been possible without Javi, we still do things the exact same way he laid them out back in 2019.”
That’s just who Javi was. He was always willing to help out, always willing to share some knowledge, and always looking for ways to improve the player experience. If he found a way, he was going to make it happen. His passion and drive was legendary across many areas of the company but nowhere was it more on display than esports.
“Javi showed me what it means to be passionate about esports,” said Eduardo Cazares, Esports Product Lead for Riot LATAM. “I am proud to have worked with him and sometimes I wonder how he would guide me in a decision. I know he would always lead me in the right direction of making things great for players.”
Mexico City Plays Host to the World
Javi was an esports lifer who played professionally a bit himself and created his own esports team, the Coliseum Dragons, before he joined Riot.
“I don’t think anyone from this office was as hyped as he was for Worlds to come to Mexico,” Santiago said. “He loved when he could experience things with players so I think he would have found himself at one of the watch parties. He probably would have designed it and even hosted it. And that would have been something players would have been excited for and he would be excited to meet a bunch of the community around Worlds.”
As Mexico City prepared to host Worlds, Javi played a crucial piece throughout the entire process–but he wasn’t there to see it become a reality.
“Before he passed away, we had said he was going to be the delivery lead for Worlds,” Santiago said. “And that just meant he was going to be the person in charge of executing everything. And I’m sure if he was still with us, there would be some things we did differently, but I just know he would have loved it.”
“I think he would be amazed to see it, and I also think he would be saying, ‘I see this opportunity and that opportunity,’” Rafael said. “He would point things out but then he’d fix them right away. I loved that about him.”
While Javi may be gone, he’s far from forgotten. In the pregame show before Worlds, #CulpaDeMaggical once again made an appearance.
With Latin America hosting Worlds for the first time, Mexico City showed out. The passion was palpable and the cheers stayed loud through hours upon hours of matches.
“I know he would be proud of the fans, their passion, and their endurance,” Rafael said. “Javi would have loved to see it. And I know he would have been proud to have Mexican fans rooting on an Argentinian team. He would have been proud to see LATAM unified rooting on a team from the LLA.”
Isurus Gaming, an organization from Argentina that fields a roster of three Mexican players and two Korean players, was far and away the most popular team of the field in Mexico City. But no matter who was playing, the crowd was ready to cheer from the first clash.
“LLA fans are so passionate about their region but they’re also following teams from around the world,” Eduardo said. “It’s similar in soccer, you have your favorite local team, but as a fan of the esport, you might also have an LCK team and an LEC team. So we want other teams and leagues to know, you may find a fan base already here in LATAM.”
More than any one team or moment, besides Isurus that is, the focus from the fans was purely on the game. They’d cheer one way for a victorious team fight and cheer the other when the team pulls off a Baron steal. The main focus was watching League played at its highest level.
“It doesn’t matter where the team is from,” said Miguel Oyamburu, Event Producer for Riot LATAM. “We’re seeing good matches and good sportsmanship, that’s what we’re going to celebrate. And we’re going to do it passionately and vocally, that’s for sure.”
Javi was someone all players saw as a face of Riot. But to the esports scene in LATAM, he was one of their fiercest supporters. From when he started at Riot, Javi helped create platforms and broadcasts where the best players in the region could showcase their skills.
After he passed away, the esports community came together with tributes. In the LLA, teams wore his name on their jerseys and the official broadcast held a moment of silence before the match. Javi’s impact transcended beyond League to all players in Latin America. Before a VALORANT match, two teams laid down their guns as a tribute to Javi.
Javi’s Impact Was Felt by Rioters Around the World
Javier’s impact was felt by Rioters around the world. In the weeks before he passed away, he traveled to Los Angeles to present at a summit at our main headquarters.
“He went up to the summit to show how Latin America promotes content,” Rafael said. “Some of what he presented was adopted by other Riot teams around the world. Javi was a challenger, he was always ready to provide an honest comment about what he thought. I loved that about him. Having him always challenging was great because he was always coming with the focus on ‘what’s best for the players?’”
That mindset is what made him such a fantastic liaison to the community. As a player himself, he was truly focused on how people experience Riot’s games.
“Javi was someone who was constantly living the player experience,” said Ben “Draggles” Forbes, a Community Lead currently working on Project L.“He came at every conversation with a warm, realistic empathy and maturity, and was a big inspiration for me on how to navigate those conversations early on in my career. He understood the balance between regional and global teams, and he always brought a focus on problem-solving. When Javi was in the room, he was always focused on doing the best thing for players and for Riot.”
When Ben worked on Wild Rift, some community members from Latin America saw #CulpaDeMaggical become #CulpaDeDraggles as Javi’s meme transcended communities and languages.
Javi was also a big part of Riot Unidos, our employee resource group of Latin American Rioters who work around the world. In 2021, for Latin American Heritage Month, Javi joined other members of Riot Unidos to talk about cultivating communities across Latin America.
“I met Javier when I used to help on esports in LATAM but got to spend more time with him during our Latinx in Esports panel,” said Carlos Hernandez, a member of Riot Unidos who works out of our LA office. “One thing that has always been true about Javier is that he has always lived putting player experience first. No matter how small a decision, he would consider how it would affect players. In return, you would see the love and support from players on social media reflecting that they felt heard. Having people like Javier at Riot was truly special because, as we grew, he never lost sight of the players that make Riot what it is.”
Riot as a company is better for having Javi work here. But his impact is truly on the people. There are people who will work for Riot for a decade and people who are only stopping through. There are players who play once in a blue moon and those who queue up every day. But everyone, if they were lucky enough to interact with Javi, was impacted positively by the work he did and the person he was.
Javi will always live on through his family, through his work, and through the hearts of everyone who interacted with him over the years. Inside the Mexico City office, many things are Culpa de Maggical, and they wouldn’t want it any other way.