The League of Legends eSports scene is currently in its worst moment as a walkout has forced Riot Games to postpone its Thursday start. It comes with a warning from Riot that if the NA LCS (North American League Championship Series) teams are not on the stage in two weeks, they will be disqualified from attending Worlds 2023, as it will cancel the summer season. This comes as a big blow to the North American region, which is also currently dealing with organizations wanting out due to a shrink in profit.
— LCS Players Association (@NALCSPA) May 29, 2023
LCSPA Organizes Strike
The LCSPA organized a strike with the players when teams universally voted to drop the academy rosters. The LCS organizations claim that it’s too expensive to continue operating a 2nd tier team with their revenue getting smaller each year. Teams like TSM had their pockets hurt with the collapse of its biggest sponsor, FTX. Another CLG, has already folded and given its spot to NRG. Rumors of many other teams wanting to sell their spot have been floating around for these last few weeks now.
With all this news, many were considering this the death of the NA League of Legends Championship. A point of controversy for many fans in the last few years has been the topic of homegrown talent having a chance to shine. For example, Team Liquid is fielding a squad with only one homegrown player in the spring split. Many organizations have pulled out of the academy scene, making it even harder than it already is for NA talent to make it to the League Championship Series.
This is where the LCS Players Association decided to step in and work with the players to make sure that they’re being treated right. Together they came up with five key changes that were needed before they would end the strike.
Riot Games Response
Yesterday, Riot Games gave its response, and the answer was a resounding “no” on nearly all fronts. Riot argued that a Valorant-style promotion and relegation wouldn’t be financially beneficial. Knowing how teams already want out of the LCS, if the financial details are true, then it would be hard to imagine any of them staying if they lose more money. Though, fans may argue promotion/relegation would make it far more entertaining as a spectator sport, especially as there are no incentives to watch the teams at the bottom of the standings. Most that love the North American pro scene likely got into it when teams weren’t corporate. It was grassroots. If the LCS lost all its big organizations and went back to basics, we don’t know if that’d be the death or rebirth of the league.
The answer to the fourth demand encapsulates the feeling coming from the post. In the statement itself, Riot claimed that it’s being “brutally honest.” That brutal honesty is saying the LCSPA is not getting anything it wants, and the summer season will be canceled if it does not start in two weeks.
Many are taking this statement from Riot as a threat, that it is willing to dig its heels in, and if the organizations and players don’t sort this out, Riot is willing to let it die. After all, it appears the players and organization need this more. There is growing fear that Riot does not care if the LCS dies, considering how much money it needs to invest to keep it running.
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