SEA transfer leaves LoL players annoyed

By Nicholas James


Jan 13, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

After League of Legends was taken away from Garena in Southeast Asia, fans expected improvements but have since been left annoyed by continued issues after the SEA transfer.

League of Legends in the Southeast Asia region was previously managed by Garena, a third-party company given publishing control of the game by Riot Games in the area. Repeated misbehaviour, exploitative purchasing behaviour, and complaints from the Southeast Asian community led to Riot Games taking control of League of Legends in the region in early 2023.

Despite the rightful owner of League of Legends taking over, many SEA fans aren’t satisfied with the lack of rehabilitation of the server environment after the SEA transfer.

Fans still unhappy after SEA transfer to Riot Games

Garena, the previous provider of League of Legends to the Southeast Asian server, had earned a reputation for misbehaving and generally throwing its weight around as the exclusive access point for the world’s most popular MOBA in the region.

Riot Games announced in 2022 that it would be taking the reins back for both League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics in January 2023, leading many SEA fans to be hopeful about the future of their region. The SEA transfer has come and gone, however, and some fans are unhappy with the state of the region.

In posts on Reddit and other social media, fans lamented the lack of improvements after Riot Games took over publishing its two large Runeterran properties. Many fans reported having their ping suddenly spike from single digits, an excellent connection, to double digit ping pushing much further towards 100 ms. At the same time, changes like the removal of the Draft Pick mode have frustrated fans whose only options are the free-for-all scramble of Blind Pick or the pressure of Ranked Play.

The swap over to Riot Games control also didn’t include server-merging, so players are still limited to playing with teammates from their own country, with virtual walls thrown up between them and other countries in the Southeast Asian server. All of these combined have made players feel like Riot’s takeover has done little to improve the state of the game, and even made it worse in some places. Whether or not Riot Games sees fit to remedy this issues has yet to be seen, but fans who expected immediate amelioration have been left wanting more.

The likely truth is that Riot Games is probably picking up the pieces scattered Garena infrastructure and figuring out how to best serve the new community. 2023 will be the first time that the developer has had to act as its own publisher in Southeast Asia, and that brings with some learning experience and growing pains.

Many jokes have been made about Riot Games being a “small indie company” despite its enormous size, but the truth is that picking up the pieces of Garena’s work after the SEA transfer is no small task, and fans are likely to see improvement.


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