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Riot Season 4 LCS contracts stipulate players cannot stream Dota 2, Blizzard games

Documents obtained by onGamers reveal that players competing in Season 4 of the LCS may not stream or advertise a slew of other games including Dota 2, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, World of WarCraft, and World of Tanks.

Update, 2:45PM PST: Director of Esports at Riot Games Whalen 'RiotMagus' Rozelle confirmed in a Reddit thread that the streaming and advertisement restrictions we reported on are, in fact, in place. His comment can be found below:

We say this all the time: we want League of Legends to be a legitimate sport. There are some cool things that come from that (salaried professional athletes, legitimate revenue streams, visas, Staples Center), but there’s also a lot of structural work that needs to be done to ensure a true professional setting.

We recognize there may be some differences of opinion in the perception of pro players’ streams. In the past, pro gamers only had to worry about their personal brands when streaming and, at most, may have had to worry about not using the wrong brand of keyboard to keep their sponsor happy. Now, however, these guys are professionals contracted to a professional sports league. When they’re streaming to 50,000 fans, they’re also representing the sport itself.

I can’t stress enough how these guys in the LCS are on the road to being real, legitimate athletes. This is new territory for a lot of teams (especially in esports), because the transition goes from being a group of talented individuals to being real icons of a sport and a league. Similarly, you probably wouldn’t see an NFL player promoting Arena Football or a Nike-sponsored player wearing Reebok on camera. Pro players are free to play whatever games they want – we’re simply asking them to keep in mind that, on-stream, they’re the face of competitive League of Legends.

Whalen Rozelle

Update, 11:20AM PST: onGamers has confirmed with the team representatives that LCS players are disallowed from streaming the games listed below outright, not just when adjacent to a League of Legends stream. Under Section 3 Rule 4 of the new contract handling 'Non-League Events and Streaming', it states that "... the [LCS] Team shall ensure that, during the Term of this Agreement, its Team Members do not publicly stream gameplay of the titles set forth on Exhibit B". Exhibit B states "the specific restrictions on streaming are set forth in the Sponsorship and Streaming Restricted List, as updated by the League from time to time", which is the document listed below.

Original Story: With less than three weeks until Riot's Battle of the Atlantic tournament, teams and players are being finalized for Season 4 of Riot's League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). With the new season on the horizon, contracts have been sent out to owners of current LCS teams.

onGamers has obtained a section of the 2014 League of Legends Championship Series contracts sent to team owners. In the section we were provided, new regulations are stipulated for what games players can and and cannot stream. The "Sponsorship and Streaming Restricted List" states that 'the following companies and/or products are not to be advertised during or adjacent to League of Legends," during the term of the agreement (duration of the contract). onGamers has confirmed with several team representatives that the document provided is real.

The most notable games among the restricted list are Dota 2, Hearthstone, World of WarCraft, StarCraft, and the World of Tanks/World of Planes franchises. Gambling and poker websites, including those that do esports betting, are also off limits. Drugs, guns, pornography and tobacco products round out the list of restrictions. The full list can be found from the screenshot of the contract below:

Riot Games declined an onGamers request for comment on the restrictions. Hi-Rez Studios also declined.

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Posted by tatatita

Nice :)

Posted by KennethDunnII

I mean, even Jews living in the ghettos could stream other games.

Edited by Okoo

Riot, na'zi company. Such a ridiculous company... i hope LoL dies soon.

Edited by EHOME

riot always had this thingy

Posted by Sean

This is absolutely crazy!

Edited by Kalthose

I can understand not wanting your direct competitor to be shown with your game, but tobacco? really? If Dyrus (I doubt he would smoke but still) lights up a cigar while waiting in queue someone is going to fine him? The tobacco thing isn't what bothers me though, it's the fact that now Riot is going to dictate what these players do on their free time in their streams. If i understand correctly only these things are banned from being streamed IF the player is also streaming LoL content.

Posted by Dysisa


Riot truly is an endless source of laughter.

Edited by bluezinx


Posted by smile

Have i missed something? What does Hi-Rez have to do here?

PS: Riot best company evar

Posted by shmegegge

Could someone with some legal expertise clarify the meaning of the language "are not to be advertised during or adjacent to League of Legends?"

Because from a layman's perspective that means they can't advertise those products, presumably by endorsement or running a given advertisement, either during or leading into/out of their stream. Is it that even playing a game for fun would be considered an advertisement?

Does this also mean that they can't take prescription strength tylenol on stream? I'd appreciate some clarification of what, precisely, the language means.

Posted by Corneto

I don't get it why people think this is unfair or even a surprise decision?

A League of Legends Pro gets alot of viewers for playing League of Legends, not ANOTHER game, he IS using the or whatever TAB for the game League of Legends

So each time you are watching a Pro with 20k viewers or something playing another game, its basicly free publicity for whatever game he is playing... Alot of times viewers on chat ask what game they are playing and go download it or whatever.

Its just a normal company move IMO.

Posted by HaTK

Interesting to see Riot struggling to keep their sheeps loyal to them through censorship.

Posted by shagrath

It says "are not to be advertised," but it doesn't say shown or played. Have you confirmed that this doesn't apply specifically to advertisements?

Posted by ilovemydanish

I sincerely question the validity of this contract considering Wrath of Heroes has been closed with unreleased source files for MONTHS now, I don't even think there's free-to-play servers anyone bothered putting up.

Posted by freeemaaaan

this is stupidly hilarious...

Posted by Schandro

Riot is using terrible methods of doing business for years now. I don't get how anyone can be surprised by this.

Posted by Ian

This appears to be a standard employer/employee agreement. Since the players are employees of the teams and the teams then contract with Riot to partake in LCS then Riot is just protecting their brand. For example, Coca-Cola employees will be fired if found drinking a rivals soda or if a bottle is seen in their car in public view.

The players are paid to play and promote a brand, Riot simply wants to protect how that brand is handled and part of that is to limit endorsement of competitors products.

Ultimately I feel this is inevitable when the company making the game runs all of the tournaments for the game. I much prefer the way that Dota2 and Fighting Games are handled with their tournaments vs the Riot & Blizzard method.

Posted by BulacaFlocka

Anyone calling Riot "Nazis" are, well quite frankly, idiots. This is standard procedure, why would you want to advertise other companies products, especially rivals? The NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. do the same things. You get fined in those leagues for wearing unapproved league apparel during pre-game warmups. It's called business.

Edited by 772

Makes sense. They feel they have an inferior product and they want to protect themselves for as long as they can. I mean why resort to this unless you don't think you can compete? Don't see anyone else doing this or needing to do this, though.

Posted by Amanwon12

Well riot is already 10x ahead of other competition.... bit overboard

Posted by BasedPaulBunyan

fuck pendragon.

Posted by loudpaperclips

This is a normal contract stipulation. The only thing that would make it odd is if Riot was disallowing the company to have other teams in other games, like EG has a league and a dota team. Forcing a company into exclusivity would be pretty harsh.

Posted by Mvega

That is hilarious. Its also something that can't be defended with a straight face. Prohibited from streaming other games in your free time? Or even acknowledging that you like them? Can't engage in perfectly LEGAL activities while streaming? Pfffft. What a joke. I guess riot is feeling the pressure from all the upcoming competition in the genre they've had locked down for so long and they're handling it in all the wrong ways.

Posted by LoneStar

At least they can stream some Street Fighter. When's Marvel?

Edited by codyconners

LoneStar - LOL.

Posted by Noobity

While I completely understand that this is legal, and as someone who at one point wanted to work for Disney it's actually not really all that bad as far as other contracts are concerned, I don't have to like it. I think it's obnoxious, I think it's overboard, and I think it's unnecessary. Obviously it's not my brand on the line so I understand where they're coming from, but I'll probably not be watching the LCS this season if the LoL streamers I enjoy watching end up having less interesting streams because of it. You can do whatever you'd like as long as it is within the confines of the law, but I can also avoid giving you my viewership or adview dollars.

Posted by lilopuppy

riot pls.

Posted by sb2

No wonder I couldn't get any player to work with
I got even told that interviews are forbidden!

Edited by Kojure

Remember that Riot is owned by TenCent, a Chinese company. A communist Chinese company.

Limiting free speech and controlling people's rights is commonplace in communist China. Its astounding to think that TenCent is trying to impose their communist practices in the USA where we have constitutional rights.

Edited by Aufklarung

Lol, riot is rlly panicing cuz lol is going down... wtf. this is retarded and a shame.

Posted by MagicMosher

It seems that all this is saying is that while streaming a 'League of Legends' Stream that the players do not start going on other games/Pornography ECT. It is pretty fair.

Posted by Mvega

As per the update to the article it looks like they're not allowed to stream those other games / drink / smoke / etc at all. That's not fair, that's just stupid. If the players want to play other games, they're not allowed to stream them or talk about them. Since streaming is how a lot of these people make their money, this is taking money away from the players that stream. This is Riot reaching into the player's pockets. You built your fanbase, but you're only allowed to play our game. Riot used to be cool, and now they're pulling some EA level bullish.

Edited by Erraticrat

I am an attorney and I play league of legends. Let me say that I understand why they would write something like this into the contract and that it is not uncommon in many contracts to have similarly styled provisions.

However, this is just stupid and smacks of a disconnected lawyer writing a deal that someone (higher up) asked for without doing much research and without having any real knowledge of what the contract governs. The reality of the current e-sports world makes this clause a real disincentive to professional players (meaning they are less likely to pursue playing in LCS). The games landscape changes fast and locking someone into 1 game only as their revenue source for a period of time is asking these players to risk their livelihood solely based on faith in Riot Games.

Riot's legal team should be better than this.

Posted by Paperthing

I wonder how the players feel about this anyway!

Posted by Haethos

Good, I'm sick and tired of watching Hearthstone on LoL streams anyway. PLAY SOME SOLITAIRE OR SOMETHING INSTEAD PLS


Posted by argetlam19

Well... the players are on Riot's payroll when they participate in the league right? If that means they work for Riot for the time being, then somehow, even it it looks unfair, it makes sense to me... like for me, I'm not allowed to buy products from the rival of the company I work for.

*oh and just to make it clear, I don't play LoL. Only Dota and Dota2.

Posted by waR


Edited by Okoo

"we want League of Legends to be a legitimate sport." LMFAO HAHAHAHA

Posted by razemage

Don't you think this made LoL players think like this

"ooo, they ban this game, let me try it"

Edited by itsMr_Big_Panda

Well that escalated quickly...

Posted by Mvega

Joke. This is like saying an NFL player can't play a friendly game of basketball with fans. Plus this is preventing these players from making ad money that has nothing to do with Riot. This is Riot not caring about their players. What a joke.

Posted by guamish

Fat Princess! Holy crap I forgot about that game. THANKS RIOT! :D

Posted by Sombrero

Quite silly that the list missed Strife, the new MOBA from S2 games.

I guess Riot doesn't really care about the title?

Edited by P0ckets

I can't believe what RiotMagus is spewing. Professional athlete play other games all the time for example in the off season Lebron James played in an amateur flag football league, which was followed by the media. Then plenty of athletes are actually sponsored by alcoholic beverages not mention entire sports. Bud, coors, miller, and other alcholic beverages are major sponsors of most main stream sprots. Then gun/gun related products, I mean guns are involved in actual sports for Christ sakes. I mean riot has champions that use guns so this is baffling. Also the professional athletes are aloud to support other sports all the time I mean have you not seen famous Giant players at Yankees games and visa versa? I mean this is just an attempt to monopolize an emerging market and should not be allowed. In the past another organization had tried to dominate the eSports market and restrict what the players could play. That organization was named the CGS and we all know how well that went.

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