League of Legends developer Riot Games says Sam Bankman-Fried’s affiliation with the game is hurting the company’s image (). In , Riot Games asks the court to terminate its League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) sponsorship deal with the collapsed crypto exchange, citing irreversible “reputational harm.”
Bankman-Fried’s love for gaming entered the spotlight following the fall of FTX, and he became notorious for playing League of Legends () during meetings. In a now-deleted profile of Bankman-Fried posted by venture capital firm Sequoia, co-founder Neeraj Arora says he during their first meeting over Zoom.
The former billionaire hasn’t been shy about his interest in League of Legends, either (even though he’sat the game). He wrote about playing League in a on Twitter posted last year, saying: “I play a lot more than you’d expect from someone who routinely trades off sleep vs work. Why? Well, there’s one answer, which is the obvious one. The single most universal thing about LoL is that everyone who plays it says they wish they didn’t.”
“Images of Mr. Bankman-Fried playing League of Legends were displayed alongside text describing his cavalier attitude towards investor meetings and irresponsibility with corporate funds,” the filing reads. “These images created a public narrative that Mr. Bankman-Fried’s interest in League of Legends, once relatable and human, was now reckless and juvenile.”
According to the filing, FTX still owes Riot Games $6.25 million for the time it spent as an LCS sponsor in 2022, but that will increase to $12.875 million next year. These payments will “escalate each year through 2028,” bringing the deal’s total value up to around $96 million. In addition to allegedly experiencing damage to its brand, Riot says it wants to end the deal now so it can replace FTX with yet another crypto sponsor for the 2023 season.
“The reputational harm inflicted upon Riot cannot be undone,” the filing reads. “FTX cannot go back in time and put in place corporate controls for the safekeeping of customer funds that have in the public eye now been absconded.”