Morello, New001 leave Riot Games

Goodbye, Mr. Good News Lee Sin. Image credit: Riot Games

Two well-known figures at Riot Games will be leaving the company shortly. Veteran designer Ryan "Morello" Scott has announced his departure first to work on “new projects” on Thursday. He was followed by another Rioter - Joe “New001” Tung - who will be leaving to start a studio of his own.

The last few days we saw two surprising departures from Riot Games. The first came from Ryan Scott, also known as Morello, announced that he is leaving the game giant and will be taking on new projects in the future.

In a separate tweet, the designer declined to say just what he will be doing “just yet” but it appears it took a very special project to wrest him away from Riot.

Scott, who previously worked for Microsoft and ArenaNet, joined Riot as a lead champion designer in August 2010. Previously. While he is only credited with the creation of Zyra, as a lead he was a big part of the philosophy that shaped League’s champions and their development. Newer fans will likely know his name from one of League’s popular items - the Morellonomicon.

In the fall of 2015, Morello tweeted that he was starting to work on a new game. Eventually, the new game was revealed to be Valorant, where he has been the lead designer since 2016.

Some time afterwards, another familiar face from Riot Games - Joe “New001” Tung -announced his own departure and his plans to found his own studio.

Joe Tung joined Riot from Bungee, eventually becoming League’s Lead Producer and Executive Vice President. He was one of the faces of the development team, featured in many videos as League changed to the game we know and play today. As EVP, he was also involved in the development of Teamfight Tactics and League of Legends: Wild Rift.

The two departures, coming after the recent shuttering of Riot’s Oceania office, raise a few questions. By all accounts, the studio should be having a very successful year financially. League of Legends is still a powerhouse in earnings and viewership, Valorant’s beta and launch attracted a lot of attention and went without major hitches, and while the pandemic slowed down some of their projects, they appear to still be ready to go. Yet behind the scenes, the LEC saw a small rebellion after Riot announced Saudi tech company NEOM as the main sponsor (which led to Riot scuttling the deal) and the European finals broadcast saw hosts intimate that not all of them might be back for next year. Is there trouble behind the curtains at Tencent’s star project, or is it just the “natural” departure of several experienced leads who want to work on their own pet projects next?

What is Morello’s new project and where will he ply his craft next? What will New001’s new studio bring to the market? We are sure to let you know as soon as we hear!