The Good, The Bad And The Disorganised: Riot Games Announces Rift Rivals Format Update

Riot Games has revealed that it will alter the details of the upcoming Rift Rivals tournament between the best of the Europe and North America. Almost a month after their series of cross-regional events was announced, Riot has released the final details to the League of Legends community, receiving a mixed reception. 

With consideration to the community’s initial Rift Rivals feedback, Riot Games has offered a revised format for the event, making significant improvements to both the fan experience and the ability to accurately draw conclusions from the international event.

As was highlighted after Riot’s initial announcement, a best of one format for the elimination stages offered a flawed system that would fail to accurately determine the best team in the tournament.

Source: Lolesports

By extending the round robin stage to a double round robin, fans are guaranteed to see each team play a minimum of six games, up from the previous four (three in round robin and one in the elimination ladder). This closely mirrors the World Championship, where each team will play their three group members twice before determining who advances.

More importantly, the second phase of the tournament has shifted to a best of five between the top finishers from each region. A best of five format for the “championship” is not only better for the fans, it serves as a more accurate indicator of the regional strength on display at the tournament.

After a razor close 1-1 result between Team SoloMid and G2 eSports at the Mid-Season Invitational, a best of one to determine a champion would have been a tragedy for the fans and players alike.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

While the format of the event itself may be an improvement, the month leading up to this announcement has not been a strong example of how a professional sports organization should communicate with their fans.

After Riot remained mostly silent on tickets and other information leading up to the event, fans questioning the timing of the event or tickets found few answers.

“Hey Guys! Sorry about the delays, the team are working on all the specifics as we speak and we are hoping to share more details with everyone soon.

“I can only apologise about the delay and ask you to be patient as the finishing touches are being added.”

Trevor “Quickshot” Henry

While it is understandable that there may be difficulties with an event that brings together multiple teams and players from a variety of countries, any uncertainty around an event can make planning for the fans very difficult and very expensive as the event draws ever closer.

For many fans – especially those who may have wanted to attend from North America – this may have led to flights or hotels having to be booked on faith to save the additional expense that would have been incurred by booking only two weeks before necessary.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

This could become even worse if fans are somehow unable to secure tickets to the event after already having made travel accommodations. Not releasing tickets until two weeks before the event is set to commence is almost unheard of for a professional sports league, and would be unacceptable for major American sports organizations such as the NBA or NFL.

The issue of uncertainty for fans became even worse when an additional day was added to the event to accommodate for the updated format. When the event was originally announced, the event dates were stated to be from July 6th to July 8th. Now, the event has been extended to include an additional day, July 5th.

For fans who have already planned their travel or vacation around a three-day event, it may be too late or very expensive to change their itinerary. While missing the first day of the event is admittedly not the worst case scenario (missing the last best of five would have been much worse), it can hurt the fan experience for those hoping to attend the entire event.

While changes to the format of the event are welcome news, logistical issues severely hurt the legitimacy of League of Legends eSports when compared to traditional professional sports leagues.

If League of Legends eSports is to be taken seriously, Riot Games must act as an authoritative and professional organizer.

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