Riot Games' reputation took a hit Monday when company founder and CEO Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill responded to a video post on Reddit that featured Team SoloMid owner Andy Dinh criticizing several of the company's decisions on the game and its esports program.
Hopped into a thread re: Esports comp & patch timing: https://t.co/A3nN5SzKfI
- Marc Merrill (@MarcMerrill) August 22, 2016
In the past, Riot Games' communication and open dialogue via its public relations department were reasons for its good standing with the community. This, however, was a miss.
Dinh, arguably the team owner most credited for spearheading the competitive scene, was notably upset in the video when asked about the timings of patches and the overall makeup of the Riot's esports program. But Merrill's response was less focused on the timing concerns and more pointed toward team's investments and priorities.
Just in case someone didn't read Tryndamere's original comment, here you have both side by side. pic.twitter.com/hywCFhy5K5
- Rulo Mercury (@RuloMercury) August 22, 2016
Even with the edited version, Merrill's words remained sharp. More concerning was the apparent disconnect in Merrill's understanding that organizations with top LCS teams benefit more with investments that stem away from League of Legends. As evident to other team owners, like Mike Rufail of Team EnVyUs, the idea of branching out is a popular one:
I think it should be noted that not all organizations in LCS benefit mostly from their LCS teams. A few native orgs seem to, however.
- Mike Rufail (@hastr0) August 22, 2016
Several key players and prominent personalities in the esports industry spoke up and provided their thoughts on the issue. The main critics pointed out that this was a public relations disaster, but that this subject has been brewing between Riot Games and team owners for quite some time. As for the defendants, it's a wait-and-see approach; don't criticize everything when it comes out.
Some responses were notably pointed.
Let's be clear: LoL doesn't make teams money in the post-VC world. Merrill is vomiting a line told to him by the Riot eSports department.
- MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) August 23, 2016
RIOT is the one company that always had the vision to make it a spectator sport that will last decades. Not so sure about that one anymore.
- Marcel Feldkamp (@MarcelFeldkamp) August 22, 2016
Riot now has an opinion on where you spend the money you make from LoL. Imagine letting someone talk to you like that.
- Thorin (@Thooorin) August 22, 2016
Others were more tempered.
It's going to be interesting to see what comes our of the current discussion between Riot and some team owners. A lot to learn.
- Carlos - ocelote (@CarlosR) August 23, 2016
We complain when executives don't tell us what they think, and then we complain when they tell us what they think and we disagree ;[
- Kwanghee Woo (@SaintSnorlax) August 22, 2016
Really sad the way Merrill framed Regi in his comment. You're talking about someone who helped build your game into a popular esport.
- Empyre (@NaserAlNaqi) August 22, 2016
And some offered solutions or alternative takes and responses.
If Riot wants teams to invest in LoL alone, they need to open more revenue streams. Teams arent making "millions" on LoL. They could though.
- Bryce Blum (@esportslaw) August 22, 2016
Also, this whole thing is a case study in why Riot has only ever gotten more careful about what they say and how and when they say it.
- Skyen (@TBSkyen) August 22, 2016
Riot has a history of locking those involved in LoL esports into a closed ecosystem to keep them reliant and unaware of their real value.
- CLG Lazarus (@RisenLazarus) August 23, 2016
Of course, everyone is waiting on Reginald's take on everything.
Thought about the situation. I have a lot to say..... I will be sharing my thoughts at 10am PST.
- Andy Dinh (@TSMReginald) August 23, 2016
Response to Marc
— Andy Dinh (@TSMReginald) August 23, 2016