John Needham has been promoted to president of esports at Riot Games, the video games publisher owned by Tencent.

In his new role, which was announced yesterday (18 November), Needham will “lead the organisation under which all of Riot’s esports titles and operations will now be unified.”

He will report to Riot’s chief executive Nicolo Laurent, and four other presidents Shaina Spenley, Scott Gelb, Ryan Crosby and Dylan Jadeja.

Needham climbs the ranks having served as Riot’s global head of esports since 2019, during which he helped grow League of Legends into the world’s largest esport.

Prior to that, he held positions including managing director of Europe and head of the LOL European Championship since he joined Riot in 2017.

Speaking on Needham’s appointment, Laurent said: John Needham’s leadership and vision for our esports business has helped us grow our fandom exponentially over the past few years. It’s why I’m excited to formalize a major division at Riot Games, with John reporting directly into me, to support and drive our big, bold swings that make it even better to be a player.”

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Needham added: “Riot Games has led the explosive growth of esports over the past decade, and I’m proud to be part of the team charged with establishing our portfolio as a foundation for the future of sports.

“By further professionalizing our sports, innovating and focusing on sustainability and competitive integrity, and making esports at Riot Games inclusive to all, we will thrive together with new and existing fans.

“We also will create additional value for our partners and plan to set the highest player-driven standards for competitive gaming well into the next decade.”

Needham’s promotion comes soon after Riot's recent appointment of Francine Li to vice president of brand management and marketing.