LEC Staff Threatened to Strike Over Saudi Partnership

By Alistair Jones on at

The League of Legends European Championship's on-screen staff say they were prepared to strike over the decision to partner with Saudi Arabian 'smart city' Neom. Last night, a number of hosts and casters confirmed that they "declined to appear on broadcast until the deal was revoked."

The comments originated from caster and analyst Indiana 'Froskurrin' Black, in response to speculation from esports personality Duncan Shields, who said that he assumed Black had posted about the deal on social media to avoid having to take further action. Black said that she was "deeply saddened" by Shields' comments and that "the on-air talent declined to appear on broadcast until the deal was revoked. I did put my fucking job on the line."

Black's comments were echoed by many of the other members of the on-air team, including Trevor Henry, who said that having made a request to terminate the partnership, the group was "prepared to refuse to work the show this weekend." Host Eefje Depoortere said that "we communicated to Riot we would refuse to appear on the LEC broadcast until the deal was revoked."

The deal, which was eventually revoked the morning after its initial announcement, did not require approval from the League's franchised teams. Despite reports to the contrary, according to ESPN, the partnership with Neom was "mentioned briefly during a slideshow presentation that included other business and sponsorship-related material pertinent to the league," but which was "not an owners' meeting." Teams do not have the power to vote on league-wide sponsorships.

Elsewhere, several Riot employees tweeted last night expressing disappointment appearing to relate to an internal meeting about the partnership within the company at large. The content of the meeting has not been made public, but many comments allude to the events of Wednesday, July 29. IP comms lead Bret Forbus tweeted to say that "yesterday was hard. Today was harder. Disappointment, anger, and shame are just a few words of what I'm feeling right now. I've never been one to feel ashamed of what I do, but it feels much closer now than ever before."