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Iranian LoL players blocked amidst international tensions

Devon H. June 26, 2019

Due to political and economic sanctions placed by the current administration in the United States, Iranian League of Legends players are having their IP addresses blocked from the game, making it nearly impossible to play on nearby servers. 

In the past month, the nation of Iran has increased its production of nuclear fuel. This increase in production has been done in defiance of a nuclear deal signed in 2015. The deal was made to delay Iran’s potential procurement and possession of nuclear weapons.

In response to this defiance, US president Donald Trump has vowed to stop Iran from achieving nuclear weaponry. The American president has since laid further sanctions on Iran, greatly disrupting the country’s economy. Even so, Iran has yet to relent.

It’s this conflict that has now reached even to League of Legends.

Developer Riot Games, being an American company, is forced to comply with these sanctions. Iranian players who normally play on EU West servers have been completely blocked from doing so. Iranian players aren’t even able to discuss this issue on the official League of Legends forum.

Rules put in place currently forbid any sort of political discussion. And since the source of the IP ban is from US laws and regulations, many confused players have been left out to dry. For the foreseeable future, they will be unable to access League of Legends through normal means. 

One way blocked players are circumventing the sanctions is through the use of a VPN, as players are only being blocked through their IP address. A VPN allows players to access the servers, disguising their country of origin. Although this is allowing some players to play the game, it is far from a preferred solution.

Riot isn’t the only company affected by this political feud. Other major game studios including Epic Games and EA are both blocking players in Iran from accessing their respective games.

With esports being a growing industry, it is worrying that international connections remain so fragile. Iranian LoL players like Ashkan "TF Blade" Homayouni are a real part of the game’s community. Losing even a fraction of that community is unfortunate for both players and for Riot, even if such issues are small potatoes relative to the major political tensions in play on the international stage.

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