Developer Riot games has defended its decision to block professional League of Legend players from streaming rival games.
Last night onGamers revealed that 2014 League of Legends Championship Series contracts disallowed players from streaming Dota 2, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, StarCraft and World of Tanks, among many other games.
The story sparked debate among the eSports community, and Riot drew criticism from some who felt the company was taking too heavy handed an approach with its stars.
Riot's director of eSports Whalen Rozelle then took to Reddit to respond, insisting the contract stipulations were in keeping with other sports, such as NFL.
"We say this all the time: we want League of Legends to be a legitimate sport," Rozelle said.
"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 recognise 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."
One of the games listed by the contract is Awesomenauts, by Ronimo Games. "So @riotgames is actually banning LCS players from streaming Awesomenauts... not sure how we feel about this," the company tweeted last night.
Then, "oh we definitely take it as a compliment :D"