Photo: Riot Games
The Walkout Is Announced
On May 12th Riot Games, the company behind the popular game League of Legends, announced that it would no longer require teams to have a minor league roster at the request of the teams themselves. This prompted a walkout from players in the League Championship Series (LCS) on May 28th. It has now been one week since the walkout began so let’s cover where we are at currently.
After Riot games announced the changes to minor league requirements several teams have dropped their NACL development programs. Among these teams are 100Thieves, Cloud9, TSM and Immortals. Dropping these development programs leaves over two dozen players, coaches and other staff without jobs. All LCS teams were required to pay $10 million as a buy in for a slot in the LCS. Being able to drop the NACL programs will allow these teams to operate more efficiently money-wise without the additional strain of funding a minor league program. Three teams have thus far elected to keep their minor league programs: Team Liquid, FlyQuest and Evil Geniuses.
The List of Demands
One gripe from players is that there was no notice from Riot when announcing the death of the North American Challenger League (NACL), aka minor leagues/Tier 2. They feel Riot capitulated to demands of teams while ignoring the players on those teams.
In a Twitter post the LCSPA listed its demands from Riot which total 5:
- Institute ‘Valorant style’ promotion and relegation between the LCS and NACL.
- Allow LCS orgs to partner with affiliates for cost-sharing.
- Riot commits to a revenue pool for player salaries of $300,000 per NACL team per year.
- Institute a 3/5 roster continuity rule to provide players on released NACL rosters first priority in maintaining their slots in the upcoming NACL season if a majority continue to compete together.
- Riot guarantees LCS minimum contracts for the following year for the five players who win the LCS summer finals each year.
In response to these demands, Riot has stated that it will postpone the start of the LCS Summer Split for two weeks, delaying it’s June 1st start date, even threatening to go nuclear and cancel the entire Summer season if the LCSPA doesn’t get its act straight. Riot has already removed the rank requirement to play in the LCS, giving teams the ability to field anyone from anywhere to fill their rosters in case the players decide to continue the strike through it’s new planned start date.
What top streamers have to say
Top player and popular streamer Doublelift suggests tournaments with prize pools as opposed to the $60K guaranteed salary proposed by the LCS Players Association. He also doesn’t believe that winning a tournament should guarantee a job for the top 5 players on a winning LCS summer finals team.
This echoes the sentiment of popular LoL streamer Tyler1 who took it a step further by calling the NACL players “paycheck thieves” – claiming that not only is it full of low talent players making it unfun to watch, but also criticizing it for being a place for “washed up pros to slowly eat paychecks”, stating that by his calculations the average NACL player was making $70K.
Only time will tell if the LCSPA will get what they’re looking for. As of now it appears all of the balls are in Riot’s court and they are refusing to play.