| USA TODAY
Riot Games, publisher of “League of Legends,” is hitting the play button on esports events.
The Los Angeles-based game maker will hold its League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) in Reykjavik, Iceland starting May 6, with the championship on May 23. Beginning the next day at the same site: The Valorant Champions Tour Masters Reykjavík, which will be the first holding of live international competition involving the popular 5-on-5 shooting game, launched in June 2020.
Nearly 46 million people watched the “League of Legends” world championship event in October 2020 in Shanghai. But Riot Games decided against holding an in-person mid-season competition during the upsurge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Competition in the League of Legends MSI will involve the top 12 teams from the regional leagues.
At the Valorant Champions Tour Masters – the final is scheduled for May 30 – the top 10 teams from around the world will compete for a spot at the Champions competition later this year.
“This is the first time the world will get to see which region is best so far on ‘Valorant’,” said Naz Aletaha, Riot Games’ head of global esports partnerships and business development.
Both will be viewable on YouTube (LoL Esports and Valorant Esports NA) and on Twitch at Riot Games. For news leading up to the competitions, you can follow lolesports.com and valorantesports.com to stay up to date with the latest news before and during the competition.
Riot Games also announced that Verizon’s multi-year agreement as the game maker’s official 5G partner will include the League of Legends World Championship in North America in 2022, the League of Legends esports All-Star Event, and the Valorant North American Challengers, three Valorant Champions Tour Masters events and championship.
Verizon is also a key partner in the recently announced Game Changers program, which is designed “to provide training and experience to elevate women and other marginalized genders in the ‘Valorant’ community,” Aletaha said.
The program includes monthly tournaments to give female players more opportunities “to compete at the semi-pro and grassroots level,” she said. “It’s really meant to develop talent and give them a platform to have the spotlight.”
Verizon is not alone in the esports arena. AT&T recently agreed to a multi-year deal to sponsor esports team 100 Thieves, which in December 2020 won the first Valorant North American championship.
T-Mobile has partnered with Andbox, which owns and operates the New York Excelsior of the Overwatch League and New York Subliners of the Call of Duty League (Metro by T-Mobile is its sponsor. T-Mobile also has a partnership with the Drone Racing League.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.