The North American League of Legends esports players have voted to go on a walkout in protest of Riot Games’ recent decision to no longer require franchises to field an amateur team. Riot’s announcement has already led many franchises to drop their amateur teams for the summer season, which has cut off an essential development pipeline for players who want to compete in the main League Championship Series (LCS). The vote, held by the LCSPA, representing North American League of Legends esports players, passed “overwhelmingly,” according to an early Monday tweet.
The Reason Behind the Protest
Riot Games announced on May 12th that franchises had requested it to drop the mandate requiring them to field teams in the amateur league, the North American Challengers League (NACL), and that it would be dropping that mandate. In response, the players pushed for some kind of structured amateur competition, noting that “over 50 percent of current LCS pros came up through the NACL / Academy system” and that Europe, China, and Korea maintain competitive developmental leagues. Riot’s decision to let franchises not field NACL teams has been met with disappointment from the League players.
Franchises’ Response to the Decision
Five of the ten teams in the LCS have said they wouldn’t be participating in the NACL this summer, including 100 Thieves, Cloud9, Dignitas, Golden Guardians, and NRG. The LCSPA tweeted that two more wouldn’t have NACL teams either, which are TSM and Immortals. The challenging economics of having an amateur team have been cited as the reason for the decision by some of the franchises. Many North American esports organizations have been struggling recently, and TSM announced it would be leaving the LCS for another region, NRG recently acquired Counter Logic Gaming, and 100 Thieves laid off staff in January.
The List of Demands By the LCSPA
An LCSPA list of demands for Riot Games includes a system of promotion and relegation between the LCS and the NACL, revenue pools for NACL salaries, and guaranteed contracts for one year for the LCS players that win the summer finals. On Monday, the LCSPA asked players not to cross the walkout line if recruited by a team to play as a replacement.
The walkout is likely to happen at the start of the summer season (also called the “summer split”) on June 1st, assuming the two sides don’t come to some sort of agreement. Riot Games and the LCSPA have not yet responded to a request for comment.