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LoL: Riot signs controversial cryptocurrency deal for LCS

LoL: Riot signs controversial cryptocurrency deal for LCS

After years of denying the possibility, Riot Games has decided to sign a deal with FTX, making it "the Official Cryptocurrency Exchange of the LCS."

LoL: Riot signs controversial cryptocurrency deal for LCS

One the eve of the North American League of Legends Championship Playoffs, Riot Games has reached a seven-year agreement with cryptocurrency company FTX to make it its latest official sponsor, with immediate effect. The deal is the largest Riot has ever signed for an esports league.

The new sponsor will be shown each time the gold difference between teams is shown during games. In addition, there will also be a named award dedicated to the most-improved player throughout a regular season.

Despite Riot stating that "we consider the sentiment and interests of our fans" in the announcement, the community has been extraordinarily critical about the arrival of cryptocurrencies to the LCS. Several retweeted the announcement to offer their thoughts. Primarily among the dissent is the effect of cryptocurrency mining on the environment.

With the sponsorship of a cryptocurrency company, a new barrier has been broken down for Riot Games in its esports operations, having previously been blocked off to teams. 

TSM are already sponsored by FTX - League of Legends
TSM are already sponsored by FTX

This also leads to a possible conflict of interest. FTX recently partnered with Team SoloMid in an extraordinarily lucrative long-term deal for the organization, and which now shares sponsorship with the competition's organizers.

However, there's an additional element of controversy, given Riot previously denied TSM from using the FTX branding in its LCS activities, including in its name. In all other esports they are now known as TSM FTX. 

In mitigation, LCS Publishing Manager Michael Sherman has said that teams are able to sign deals with crypto exchanges, but cannot have logos that 'can't easily be scrubbed for redistribution in other events or broadcasts where crypto advertising is limited'.

Riot's logic here is that graphics on screen in its broadcasts can be easily removed, whereas logos on team jerseys cannot. 

Riot Games are no stranger to controversial partnerships. One instance was the sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabian project NEOM for the LEC, which was swiftly brought down by pressure from both fans and LEC staff themselves. 

Riot Games announce the end of its partnership with NEOM

The Californian company terminated the agreement between the futuristic mega-city and the LEC, just twelve hours after announcing its signing.

Bruno Ouviña

"Someday I'll be living in a big old city"

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