Ex-Hearthstone director moves to League of Legends as new design director


August Dean Ayala will be the new design director on League of Legends, after his departure from Blizzard on September 16th. Ayala was previously the game director on Hearthstone and had worked at Blizzard for 11 years. He announced the job change via Twitter. (opens in new tab)

In a little over a week, I’ll be starting at @riotgames as the design director for @LeagueOfLegends.Looking forward to working with a new team and immersing myself into the League community. HYPED! pic.twitter.com/1tOHKSZyoASeptember 24, 2022

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While the position of game director on Hearthstone was a prestigious one, Ayala’s departure (opens in new tab) wasn’t particularly high-profile: He’d only held the job for three months, having started in June (opens in new tab) after the departure of previous game director Ben Lee for another position within Blizzard.

Ayala started in quality assurance at Blizzard and made his way into the Hearthstone team after he ranked top in North America in competitive play. He was previously responsible for a significant amount of internal playtesting, and was design lead on Hearthstone since 2016.

As design director on League of Legends, Ayala will have senior members of testing, game design, and narrative teams reporting to him, among many others. A quick scroll of his twitter shows that while League and Hearthstone are very different things, Ayala’s interests run to a very broad array of games.

The last few years have been times of change at both Blizzard and Riot, with a large number of high-profile departures from both companies. League of Legends has had two design directors in as many years at Riot. The Hearthstone team at Blizzard has been fairly stable, relatively insulated from otherwise-scandalous events at the company’s higher levels of leadership, but has still suffered in the eyes of the public since the departure of founding team members in 2018 (opens in new tab), followed by a broader scandal around a player from Hong Kong. (opens in new tab)

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