Riot bans pro LoL players from streaming competitor's games

Rules of championship contract forbid DOTA, Starcraft broadcasts

Riot Games has issued a new contract to teams which participate in its League of Legends Championship Series which forbids players from livestreaming many of its competitors titles at any time.

The new agreement, obtained by OnGamers, details those titles which fall under the restrictions, including obvious rival competitive e-sports titles like DOTA 2 and Starcraft, but also including the less understandable Fat Princess.

Whilst it may seem reasonable that the teams participating in the series not stream rival games during tournaments, the new rules dictate that any player who livestreams any games on the list at any time at all will find themselves and their team ejected from the series. The ruling also covers streams of a potentially offensive or illegal nature, including pornography, the promotion of gambling and drug use.

Following some public concern from the game's community, both professional and casual, Riot's Whalen Rozelle made a post in a Reddit thread discussing the move, explaining the decision.

"We say this all the time: we want League of Legends to be a legitimate sport," he writes. "There are some cool things that come from that (salaried professional athletes, legitimate revenue streams, visas, Staples Center), but there's also a lot of structural work that needs to be done to ensure a true professional setting.


The leaked contract.

"We recognize there may be some differences of opinion in the perception of pro players' streams. In the past, pro gamers only had to worry about their personal brands when streaming and, at most, may have had to worry about not using the wrong brand of keyboard to keep their sponsor happy. Now, however, these guys are professionals contracted to a professional sports league. When they're streaming to 50,000 fans, they're also representing the sport itself.

"I can't stress enough how these guys in the LCS are on the road to being real, legitimate athletes. This is new territory for a lot of teams (especially in esports), because the transition goes from being a group of talented individuals to being real icons of a sport and a league. Similarly, you probably wouldn't see an NFL player promoting Arena Football or a Nike-sponsored player wearing Reebok on camera. Pro players are free to play whatever games they want - we're simply asking them to keep in mind that, on-stream, they're the face of competitive League of Legends."

Whilst Rozelle's sporting analogies might have some resonance, it seems unlikely to go down well with the game's audience and players, who are, after all, not beholden to Riot in the same way that a full-time employee would be, especially given the growing popularity of streaming channels and YouTube. How that upset will manifest in opposition to the possibility of exclusion from the most popular tournament in the world's most played competitive title remains to be seen.

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Latest comments (8)

I can sort of understand... but this was kind of a di** move, Riot
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 4 years ago
The problem is the funding model. The players (as far as I can tell) are often funded by Riot themselves. In that case I can completely understand this clause.

You wouldn't want Messi playing with or using the branding of Man Utd. Nor would a celebrity that has entered into a branding contract with Nike be allowed to wear Addidas... in that case (and there is historical precedent here) the contract is void and there may be a civil case to sue on behalf of the company.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
I can't stress enough how these guys in the LCS are on the road to being real, legitimate athletes
Herein lies the core lie, of which all other lies are derivatives of, twisting the world to the viewpoint of a PR department, whose goal is not to further the life and career of its players, but ruthlessly seeks to exploit them for the purposes of advertisement. So others can look at these "athletes" in all their aspirational PR glory and follow into their footsteps. First step being to buy something at the LOL online store.

Tennis players advertising Online Poker, instead of Tennis, do not get kicked from the ATP tour. Football players with a sponsor different from the team sponsor (e.g. Lionel Messi) do not get banned for their own merchandise line because it features Addidas instead of Nike. Not by their team and most certainly not by UEFA.

The difference being, football stars are athletes with rights and LOL "stars" being slaves to a promotional strategy. No more than contracted spokespersons putting on a show.
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 4 years ago
If they are funded by Riot the move is a normal one. If not, i think they'll just ditch and become pros at some other game, it is not that hard, they have it in their blood :)
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Joshua Temblett XO.TV, Editor-in-Chief 4 years ago
These people are being paid a comfortable salary by Riot Games to play League of Legends and participate in their tournaments.

The above piece of information isn't being said enough. They are being paid good money, the least these players can do is not stream other games. This doesn't mean they can't play these games or anything like that, it just means Riot doesn't want these players showing off other games when the players themselves are becoming synonymous with League of Legends.

I personally do not have any problem with it, however I can understand why people might be annoyed with it.
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Frank Trottier Analyst programmer 4 years ago
"The ruling also covers streams of a potentially offensive or illegal nature, including pornography, the promotion of gambling and drug use. " Are those later rules the equivalent to buying a magasine and a chocolat bar to cover your condoms purchase ? More rules to look more credible. Hey you have to protect yourself.
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 4 years ago

No those additional rules are the same for all athletic sports and are to do with not bringing the game into disrepute. You know kind of like the who-hah that erupted around golf when Tiger Woods was found to be putting it about.
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Jeff Wayne Technical Architect 4 years ago
They've changed their mind on this. Riot Reddit Post
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