Last month the 2014 Game Developer Choice Awards (GDCA) announced they would be honoring the League of Legends co-creators with the Pioneer Award for a "breakthrough tech and gameplay design milestone", voted on by game designers and industry veterans.
Riot co-founders Beck and Merrill accepted the honor at last night's live GDC award show, thanking the early competitive gaming and esports community for building the industry in its infancy and helping them get to where they are today.
"We’re here being recognized as pioneers in esports and community, but our accomplishments are only possibly because we're standing on the shoulders of giants who dreamed big, who paved the way, who built the foundation of Online gaming to evolve into to what it has become today," Beck said on the podium.
"They like us dreamt of a future where competitive gaming is followed by tens of millions of fans around the world. It's real humbling to be a small part of that history. Marc and I have been gamers our entire lives. We may never have caught the competitive gaming bug though that led us here if it weren't for our very early competitive experiences."
Beck and Merrill's acceptance speech starts at 46:52 in the video above.
"In games like WarCraft 2 with help of services like N-gage and Kali, StarCraft and the original Battle.net ladder, organized Counter-Strike and so on. Competitive gaming has been around a long time and we want to give a big thank you to all the games that gave us a true love for competitive play. To the community that supported esports back in the day, and the players that went pro before a paycheck was there.
"The esports community we all know today wouldn't be here without you guys".
Merrill recounted his younger online experiences and how that helped shape him today, even saying that he and Beck considered starting up a gaming league before creating Riot.
"Back when Brandon and I were in college together at USC, the first company we actually thought about creating together was an esports organization called the UGL, the ultimate gaming league", said Merrill. "It didn't go anywhere of course, but it's pretty fun to look back and look at a dream we had way back when."
"We've played tons of online games. Until you've been deeply engaged and immersed in an online community, you don't know how much fun you're missing, and how deep the relationships are that you can really build. We truly believe that type of participation in the great gaming community is one of the best experiences you can have in gaming."
"We'd like to thank all the Rioters out there for being with us, and to all League of Legends players for all their passion and support. Thank you."