The country’s footy code and the League of Legends devs are coming together to bring a ‘premier stadium tournament’ to Melbourne at the end of this year. 

League of Legends: League of Origin will be introduced in November, and seems to be a kind of State of Origin all-stars League tournament encompassing both Australia and New Zealand.

Players will step outside of their normal OPL team rosters and instead take each other on as representatives of their ‘home side’, though it’s unclear as to whether it will simply be AUS vs NZ or something a bit more complicated.

This partnership will also include the development of a new purpose-built esports studio in Melbourne.

“Esports is one of the most exciting emerging industries to come in and disrupt the traditional sports landscape,” said AFL General Manager, Growth, Digital and Audience, Darren Birch. “Riot are a respected and credible leader in this space, and this event will be a great opportunity to continue together on that path. We will bring our expertise and insight to the competition, giving all-star players an opportunity to play with different teams, play in a different tournament structure and in a completely different venue environment.”

“Our vision is to progress the game of AFL and continue to help fans share in the experience of footy. Working with Riot is one step towards us learning new ways to connect with fans and enhance the complete digital experience. We’re excited to continue to learn and lead in this space with our new partner, Riot, and to work with our two AFL clubs already in this space, Adelaide Crows and Essendon Bombers, to build out player pathways and opportunities.”

Daniel Ringland, Head of Oceanic Esports for Riot Games said: “The AFL is a world class league, and leads Australian sport in many key areas. From fan engagement through to player welfare and development, they’re the gold standard. We aspire to the same levels of excellence for our pro players and fans of League of Legends esports, so a strategic partnership makes absolute sense. The AFL and Riot are culturally aligned, both being firm believers in putting the fan and player experience first. We’re excited to be paving the way for esports fans in Oceania.”

This is really exciting news, as it manages to further the industry’s recognition of esports in Australia as a viable outlet, and one worth acknowledging. It will be interesting to see how the State of Origin clashes will work, and how many games will be in the tournament. It will also be cool to see what comes of this new purpose-built studio in Melbourne.

Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for confirmation of the venue, teams and dates. This is a whole new ball game.