Riot Games Promotes John Needham to President of Esports
Riot Games has promoted esports and gaming executive John Needham to the role of President, Esports. In this elevated position within Riot Games, Needham will lead the organization under which all of Riot’s esports titles and operations will now be unified.
After two-plus years as Riot’s Global Head of Esports following his previous roles as Managing Director of Europe and Head of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), Needham will helm the world’s most successful and sustainable collection of esports.
“As we head into 2022, we’re placing our biggest bets yet on esports to deliver the most connected, immersive experiences for the millions of players worldwide who love our games,” says Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games. “John Needham’s leadership and vision for our esports business has helped us grow our fandom exponentially over the past few years. It’s why I’m excited to formalize a major division at Riot Games, with John reporting directly into me, to support and drive our big, bold swings that make it even better to be a player.”
The promotion elevates Needham to be one of the senior most executives within Riot Games, now reporting into Laurent along with Riot’s four other presidents: Shauna Spenley, President, Entertainment; Scott Gelb, President, Games; Ryan Crosby, President, Publishing; and Dylan Jadeja, President, Enterprise.
Within Needham’s governance will League of Legends Esports (LoL Esports), the rising FPS esport VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT), Wild Rift Esports (which concludes its first global tournament on Sunday), and multiple other games under a new Organized Play umbrella at Riot Games (Teamfight Tactics, aka TFT; Legends of Runeterra, aka LoR; and future games).
“Riot Games has led the explosive growth of esports over the past decade, and I’m proud to be part of the team charged with establishing our portfolio as a foundation for the future of sports,” says Needham. “Esports embodies Riot’s mission to inspire the most meaningful and lasting player experiences.
“By further professionalizing our sports, innovating and focusing on sustainability and competitive integrity, and making esports at Riot Games inclusive to all, we will thrive together with new and existing fans. We also will create additional value for our partners and plan to set the highest player-driven standards for competitive gaming well into the next decade.”
The new Riot Games esports structure being established by Needham has been informed by a combination of traditional sports leagues and governing bodies as well as Riot’s company-wide goal to innovate around and ultimately define the future of gaming. Needham plans to bring a new strategic and operational focus across the multiple sports and leagues, extend Riot’s esports’ impact into complementary entertainment and gaming categories, and create and shape viewing and content platforms for the future growth of its esports audience.
To that end, Needham recently green-lit a multi-million initiative known as Project Stryker, an innovative initiative to increase capacity of Riot’s esports content and events with a centralized broadcast model anchored by Remote Broadcast Centers (RBCs) strategically located around the world. Three years in the making, these RBCs will increase capacity for Riot Esports content and events while lowering operating costs, ensuring top-tier quality and consistency across all esports productions, and built for scale as the volume of Riot’s live esports broadcasts continues to grow. The first center will come online in Dublin, Ireland, in early 2022.