Riot Games reportedly pulling back support from OPL region

Olivia R. December 3, 2019

The Oceanic Pro League is reportedly set to lose a lot of its current support from Riot Games.

According to Kotaku Australia, teams and players in the OPL region have been informed that Riot Games will no longer pay professional teams an "operating subsidy" next year. The publication saw the email, which was sent in October. 

The email stated that the reason behind the cuts is to "ensure the OPL runs on a cost-neutral basis." The subsidy that was once given to teams in the OPL was originally designed to offset operating costs, which include rent, internet, and utilities. It was paid out each week over the course of the OPL's two seasons. 

"We can confirm we have removed the operating subsidy for the upcoming season in accordance with the plan teams were made aware of when they entered the league," Riot Oceania told Kotaku Australia over another email. 

To help teams offset the upcoming costs of competing, Riot has waived the OPL's minimum salary requirements, a decision they didn't "take lightly." This was also relayed to OPL players at the end of October. Former and current players told the publication that the previously required minimum was $10,000 a year, or $500 for every week of the regular split. 

The lack of housing support paired with the possibility of making minimum wage has caused Australia and New Zealand's League of Legends community to fear that top players will leave the region to pursue an LoL career elsewhere. 

This drastic change came as viewership in the region has at times looked to be picking up. Now it's unclear what the future of the OPL will be, since many League of Legends pros in the area may end up picking up full-time jobs outside of esports even if they remain local to the scene. This could impact their performance significantly, causing the region to further underperform against other competitors around the world. 

"This is just reflective of the continued challenges we're seeing locally. I really feel for the players, first and foremost. It's awful," said an Australian esports professional.