E-sports

Riot Games promotes John Needham to lead unified esports division – Sports Business Journal

Summary

Riot Games has promoted John Needham to the newly-created role of President of Esports, where he will oversee all esports activity and operations for the company’s various titles as part of a newly unified esports division. The promotion comes in the same week that Riot promoted Whalen Rozelle to Head of Global Esports Operations, a role reporting directly to Needham. Needham has worked for more than two years spearheading Riot’s esports efforts as its Global Head of Espo…….

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Riot Games has promoted John Needham to the newly-created role of President of Esports, where he will oversee all esports activity and operations for the company’s various titles as part of a newly unified esports division. The promotion comes in the same week that Riot promoted Whalen Rozelle to Head of Global Esports Operations, a role reporting directly to Needham. Needham has worked for more than two years spearheading Riot’s esports efforts as its Global Head of Esports. He has held multiple leadership positions within Riot since joining the company in 2017, including working as Managing Director of Europe and Head of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC). Before joining Riot, Needham held senior level roles at multiple game studios. He served as CEO of both Cryptic Studios and Gazillion Entertainment and worked for three years within Microsoft’s game development ecosystem.

In addition to leading Riot’s global league and circuit systems for League of Legends, Valorant and Wild Rift, Needham now will oversee a new Organized Play team, which includes multiple current and future Riot Games titles such as Teamfight Tactics and Legends of Runeterra. Games within Organized Play do not yet have esports infrastructures on the same scale as their peers, but will continue to offer organized competition and championship events for their dedicated communities.

Needham tells SBJ he’s excited about both the new position and Riot’s continued commitment to growing its esports operations. “How many opportunities do you get to innovate on sport and to be a part of the next generation of sport?” he said. “There’s not a lot of people invested in this as much as Riot is. It’s amazing. It’s super hard work, as you can imagine, … but it’s an absolute labor of love. We live and breathe this stuff.”

Needham’s new role places him at the same level as the company’s highest-level division presidents, Shauna Spenley (entertainment) and Scott Gelb (games). All will report directly to CEO Nicolo Laurent.

Source: https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Esports/Sections/People-and-Pop-Culture/2021/11/Needham-promotion.aspx