Leo Faria, the global head for Wild Rift esports, sat down to speak about the past season, Riot’s future strategy, and closing the gap between Chinese and global teams in an interview with Esports.gg
The latest esports title on the block by Riot Games is League of Legends: Wild Rift. The game was released in most regions by March 2021 and soon after, Riot announced esports tournaments for the game.
In 2021, Wild Rift got its first global competition with the Wild Rift Horizon Cup, which happened in Singapore. This tournament, however, was just a part of the game’s preseason. The first official season for Wild Rift esports was held in 2022, and to the surprise of many fans concluded in the summer itself.
Nova Esports wins inaugural Wild Rift Icons Global Championship
First-ever Wild Rift Icons Global Champions, Nova esports will receive their own skin line in the game.
Riot had said that the decision to host the Wild Rift Global Championship Icons in the summer was to give it a distinct place in the calendar, which doesn’t clash with other esports events.
With the first official season wrapping up, Esports.gg sat down with Leo Faria, the global head of esports for Wild Rift to talk about the game’s esports scene so far and the future.
Interview with Leo Faria, global head of Wild Rift esports
Can you tell us a bit about what went into planning the first season of Wild Rift esports?
Faria: We are committed to creating a Wild Rift ecosystem where players can realize their full potential on a global level and teams have a sustainable environment to grow and expand in the long term.
Our focus for the first season of Wild Rift esports is to continue to excite players who aspire to become professional Wild Rift Esports athletes and to work with top-tier organizations to create a sustainable ecosystem for everyone involved in Wild Rift Esports. We have a long way to go but are encouraged by the many new organizations that have entered the space this year. We are very excited to build the future of Wild Rift Esports with them.
We just wrapped up with the Wild Rift Icons. What can you tell me about what’s next?
Faria: With the stunning conclusion of the season one Wild Rift Icons Global Championship, the competitive schedule has officially entered into its off-season. However, the off-season does not mean the end of the competition and we are happy to introduce the Wild Circuit – Wild Rift Esports’ official off-season tournament series!
Wild Circuit: Riot unveils Wild Rift esports' off-season details
With a three-month long off-season, Riot has planned a lot of events to keep fans hooked.
The Wild Circuit is a consolidated competition series hosted in the eight Wild Rift Esports regions, providing a stage for professional teams and teams at all skill levels to show what they’ve got in the Mobile MOBA space and prepare for season two.
These events are meant to continue the momentum of competitive play through the rest of the year and give more opportunities for pros and aspiring pros to hone their skills.
We’ve seen in existing mobile esports titles that their strategy in different regions of the world tends to be different based on the affinity to mobile esports in that region. I wanted to know if you have a similar approach to say Wild Rift in North America and SEA. One is a market where mobile esports hasn’t caught on and the other is the biggest region for mobile games.
Faria: Player centricity drives everything we do here at Riot Games, which will determine how we approach our strategy for each market. Some key factors we consider while mapping out our strategy for the SEA region and North America are:
- Understanding players’ behavior, trends, and lifestyle to devise the best engagement approach, and relevant partnerships.
- Always listening to feedback and comments from communities and players to improve their game and brand experiences.
- Understanding cultural nuances to ensure we approach our games and localized campaigns and initiatives tactfully.
- Considering markets’ gaming and esports ecosystem to determine how we best launch our initiatives in the markets.
SEA is an important region for Riot Games and we plan to continue growing over the next few years in our quest to deliver first-class experiences to our players. As we’ve seen from this year’s tournaments, SEA players have a lot of talent and skill and we look forward to providing more opportunities for them to prove themselves.
While North America may not have such an active mobile esports scene yet, we see a lot of growth potential there and will use our lessons learned from mobile-first regions to inform our strategy.
What did you learn in the first official season for Wild Rift esports and how are you going to be integrating this in the future?
Faria: We learn a lot from our first season and will look to make appropriate adjustments to further enhance our entire esports ecosystem for next season and beyond.
We will definitely look for ways to improve competitive parity among teams in different regions, which is why we will continue our efforts in supporting players who aspire to become professional Wild Rift Esports athletes in the region and working with top-tier organizations to create a sustainable and healthy ecosystem for everyone involved.
We will definitely look for ways to improve competitive parity among teams in different regionsFaria on closing the competitive gap between Chinese and teams from other regions
Can we expect an MSI equivalent for Wild Rift towards the end of the year?
Faria: I would say, never say never! Wild Rift Esports is Riot’s very first foray into mobile esports, and we have just completed our first season with lots of great moments that brought our global community together.
“I would say, never say never!”Leo Faria on an MSI equivalent for Wild Rift towards the end of the year
As Wild Rift Esports continues to grow across the world, we will prioritize fostering self-sustaining esports ecosystems that have a steady cadence of high-caliber tournaments, a healthy roster of pro-teams, and a robust network of sponsorship opportunities.
While Wild Rift is a new game, The Icons’ viewership has been low. A reason for this could be Chinese domination. What are you doing to develop other regions and attract more audiences to Wild Rift esports?
Faria: As discussed in previously, improving competitive parity among teams in different regions is something we’re focusing on. This is why we will continue our efforts in supporting players who aspire to become professional Wild Rift Esports athletes in the region and working with top-tier organizations to create a sustainable and healthy ecosystem for everyone involved.