This year will see a few updates that impact players in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Teams from League of Legends (LoL) Esports and players from Teamfight Tactics (TFT) Esports will be allowed to participate in the Esports World Cup (EWC) in Riyadh this summer, Arabic localization will be coming to League of Legends, and we’ll launch new servers in the Middle East in 2024.

Participating in the EWC

The EWC is not an official LoL Esports event, Riot will not be involved in the production, and Riot will not select the teams that compete. That said, we know that seeing League and TFT included in an international esports event in Saudi Arabia could raise some questions. Our goal in this region, and all regions, is to make deliberate choices that result in a better experience for players around the world. 

The decision to make room in our LoL Esports competitive calendar for the EWC comes after a lot of consideration about our duty to thoughtfully explore marketing and commercial opportunities for esports teams and players, as well as the impact this event can have on players in MENA. There are a few reasons we chose to participate: 

A Meaningful Esports Experience For Fans

At the Esports World Cup, TFT and League join 20+ of the other largest games on the planet to create a new gaming experience for players around the world. These cross-game, cross-genre esports events are unique moments for fans of all types of games to come together.

In particular, we’ve heard from players in MENA, as well as Rioters who live and work there, about how meaningful it is to have the opportunity to see their favorite teams from across the world compete live at a major tournament in their region. We believe that supporting these types of experiences is an important part of delivering on our mission to make it better to be a player.

An Opportunity for Pro Teams and Players 

We also recognize that many organizations and players in esports face economic challenges right now. With this in mind, we didn’t want to deny esports teams and players the option to participate in a major economic and brand-building opportunity. The EWC offers not only the chance to compete on an international stage but also the ability to earn a piece of a meaningful prize pool, which helps enhance financial stability.

As we look toward the future of esports competition, we see international third-party events playing a bigger role, much like they did in the early days of League. The community has been asking for more international play, and this event is part of a broader strategy to allow for additional high-impact tournaments to the esports calendar.

In 2023, events like the Asian Games and Red Bull League of Its Own were significant moments for teams, players, and fans. We’ll use this initial first-year EWC exploration to evaluate the overall tournament experience, assess the benefits to pro teams, and better understand the value of EWC to players worldwide. 

Making it Better to be a Player in MENA

Riot and League of Legends were built with the goal of making sure that players around the world have the best game experience possible. That’s why we have over 20 global offices, most focusing specifically on publishing efforts in their region. While we’ve had an office in Dubai since 2018 doing impactful publishing work, on the game side, we haven’t delivered the ideal player experience in MENA for League of Legends. 

Back in 2019, we made a promise to localize League of Legends in Arabic for players in MENA. We're overdue for an update here, but we’re happy to confirm that we’ll be turning this long-standing promise into reality this summer. Beyond making sure the linguistic nuances and champion voiceover feel right, there were some technical pieces like reworking game interfaces so text could work when read right-to-left. We know it’s taken too long, but we’re almost there. Along with the Arabic localization, we’re also getting ready to launch local servers based in the Middle East. No one likes whiffing a skillshot or missing their pick on the carousel, so we're excited for players in the Middle East to play League and TFT with significantly reduced ping starting soon (™). 

We want to thank all the players in MENA who have patiently waited for us to bring a better, more localized League experience to their region. We also want to acknowledge that not everyone will choose to watch the Esports World Cup – and we understand and respect that choice – but we believe the impact this event can have for esports teams, pro players, and players across MENA makes our participation the right call.