Riot Isn’t Interested in Crowdfunding eSports Prize Pools
Just because The International was able to add over $9 million to the prize pool thanks to crowdfunding via sales of the Compendium and ESL boosted their prize pool for ESL One: Frankfurt the same way doesn’t mean that crowdfunding prize pools is for everyone.
Riot Games’ head of European eSports, Jason Yeh, has come out as saying they’re not interested in getting fans to contribute to their World Championship pot with an anonymous employee being a lot more blunt with his opinion.
The prize pool for the League of Legends World Championship is typically in the neighbourhood of $2 million. Yeh said that the reason the prize pool isn’t larger is because the company is putting their money back into the game rather than prize pools. He also noted the frequency of LCS events run by Riot which was a crack at Valve for running one eSports event each year, The International.
An unnamed Riot employee told Polygon that going to the community to increase their eSports prize pool was akin to “begging.” Yeh had a more measured response saying that it would be a PR disaster if Riot incorporated a crowdfunding model and couldn’t continually grow the prize pool. I’d imagine the same thought crossed through someone’s mind at Valve after adding over $9 million to The International 2014 prize pool through Compendium sales.
While I don’t necessarily agree with how the folks at Riot phrase it, I don’t necessarily disagree with some of their concerns. If a company could support an eSports tournament themselves, between internally allocated funds and sponsorships, I don’t see why they should be required to go to the community, hat in hand, to ask for more money. Then again, that $9 million added to The International prize pool also came with an additional $27 million in Compendium sales that stayed in Valve’s pocket. That’ll certainly help the game’s infrastructure.