League of Legends fans were shocked when Riot Games appeared to mock the Play-Ins leading up to the World Championship.
Fans who were looking to participate in the Worlds 2021 Pick’Ems were met with a strange message regarding the first leg in the tournament. After selecting teams, participants got a message saying to come back on October 10 to make Group Stage picks. This was followed with:
Play-Ins are happening and we don’t support that fiesta. Sit back, relax, and gather up your posse in preparation for the show.”Riot Games
League of Legends esports fans were immediately thrown off by the text. To pros, streamers, and viewers alike, it appeared that Riot Games was dismissing the Play-Ins and suggesting it’s not something to be taken seriously.
Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere chimed in on the matter saying, “Hmmm, I’m quite saddened by this wording. Disrespectful to 1) The fact that Play-Ins are such an important part of Worlds 2) The amazing teams and scenes from the play in regions. Really odd.”
Sjokz added that the “fiesta” teams in Play-Ins have booted top teams in the past, including MAD Lions last year. Other fans called it “disgusting” and “insulting.”
Worlds 2021 currently has Pick’Em play available, but this is limited to the “Crystal Ball” prediction where players can make their pick for the winner of the event.
Riot responds to Play-In message backlash
As the criticism kept flooding in, Riot Games issued a response to the surprising text. Riot explained that the message was not meant to be seen by the public. According to the digital director, the message was “placeholder copy” meant as an “ironic joke” due to the team’s frustration in “not being able to support Play-Ins.”
“We all love Play-Ins here. This year, we overhauled Pick’ems from the ground up. The pivot to Iceland, late changes to the schedule, uncertainty about which teams would qualify plus technical complexity all resulted in our need to remove Play-Ins from our PIck’ems plans,” Luke Cudney continued.
The third tweet stated that the “sentiment reflected in the copy does not reflect our perspective and in fact is just the opposite.”
The text has since been changed.
While Riot Games had claimed the text was an internal joke and error, fans were not fully satisfied with the answer. For some, it seemed like insight into the company’s “way of thinking.” Others said they were now going to only root for the underdog teams in the Worlds Play-Ins.
Play-Ins began in 2017, allowing teams from smaller regions to try and fight their way to the main Group Stage. Pick’Ems started in 2014 but have never supported the Play-Ins stage at Worlds.
Play-Ins begins on October 5, starting with Hanwha Life Esports and LNG.