Alienware has terminated its sponsorship contract with League of Legends following sexual harassment allegations against Riot Games’ CEO Nicolo Laurent and the developers public image according to Dot Esports.
In the Dot Esports report, Alienware allegedly ended its partnership more than 10 months early and cited concerns over Riot’s handling of the harassment claims and other scandals. This past weekend of the LCS and LEC saw the removal of Alienware logo and branding from the official broadcasts.
“Alienware has been a valuable partner to Riot since January 2019. We can’t comment on our agreement with them at this time due to confidentiality obligations.” Riot Games told Daily Esports in a statement. “As we continue discussions with them, we have removed their branding from our broadcasts.”
The two companies agreed to a multi-year sponsor and partnership for its League of Legends global esports events in 2019. Alienware is currently the official tournament display and PC partner of the LCS and LEC. The company also provides hardware for League of Legends international events like the Mid-Season invitational, the World Championship and All-Stars. Team Liquid is also sponsored by Alienware and the company has naming rights to the organizations training facilities in Utrecht, Netherlands and Los Angeles
Alienware notably partnered with League of Legends following two previous controversies at Riot Games. First, a report that surfaced after Riot Games suspended chief operating officer Scott Gelb that summarized allegations of inappropriate conduct. The conduct cited included farting in peoples faces and touching his employee’s genitals as a joke. Gleb is still the company’s COO.
The second controversy was an investigative story by Kotaku that exposed the company’s poor treatment of women employees. Riot released a statement following the story and pledged to a “cultural transformation timeline” over the following 16 months.
After Alienware and its owner, Dell, partnered with Riot, the game’s developer continued to produce scandals. In July 2020, the company faced backlash for its deal with NEOM and the LEC. Many of the LEC’s broadcast crew and casters criticized the deal because of Saudi Arabia’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community and the state’s role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Riot ended its partnership with the Saudi Arabian company days later.
Then came the most recent controversy with Riot’s CEO and accusations of sexual assault and gender discrimination in a civil lawsuit filed by his former executive assistant Sharon O’Donnell. The complaint, filled against Laurent in January, highlights alleged sexist comments made by Laurent and claims O’Donnell was unfairly fired in July 2020 for reporting the CEO to human resources.
Riot has denied the allegations and opened an independent investigation into Laurent and his behavior.
“Core to giving Rioters confidence in our commitment to culture transformation is taking all allegations of harassment or discrimination very seriously, thoroughly investigating claims and taking action against anyone who is found to have violated our policies,” Riot spokesperson Joe Hixson told Daily Esports in a statement. “In this case, because some of the claims relate to an executive leader, a special committee of our Board of Directors is overseeing the investigation, which is being conducted by an outside law firm. Our CEO has pledged his full cooperation and support during this process, and we’re committed to ensuring that all claims are thoroughly explored and appropriately resolved.”
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