This is the final part of our interview with Fantic’s Chief Gaming Officer and Counter-Strike legend Patrik “cArn” Sättermon. Last time he spoke about Fnatic’s League of Legends team while today he jumps into the complex world of LCS relegation and franchising.
Fnatic have been a stalwart of the European LCS, never being relegated and always being towards the top of the table. They are a team that has never really had to worry about relegation, but as Origen proved last split, one or two issues can almost spell disaster for any team.
Over recent months many team owners from both the EU and NA LCS have called on Riot to remove relegation from both leagues and establish a franchise model, that would see teams be guaranteed a spot in the league pretty much permanently.
Riot has fought back and refused to do so for 2017, but the issue still remains. So we caught up with Fantic’s Chief Gaming Officer Patrik “cArn” Sättermon to find out his thoughts on the situation and if franchising the league would be a good move for Fnatic.
eSports Pro: There’s been a lot of talk about relegation and franchising in the LCS over recent months. What are your views? Do you like relegation or would you rather have a franchise model?
Patrik “cArn” Sättermon: “I think it very much depends. We are by no means an expert on franchise models. Obviously, we can just quickly look at the American world of sports like with NHL, NFL, and whatever, it provided stability for teams. But what stability mean for teams? The naysayers say, the teams are going to be lazy, they’re just going to play for nothing. What actually happens is that we get endless opportunities to do investments, work long term, set up partnerships, be a trustworthy and long term partner for many brands who want to get into eSports.”
eSports Pro: It’s interesting that you bring up sponsors straight away, is this move from the teams mainly to bring in more sponsors and more money?
cArn: “A lot companies out there who want to get into eSports are hesitant to go into teams, which they normally do in sports by the way, due to the fact that in four or five months’ time, they might crash out and be relatively irrelevant. You can also say that you can build a similar model like in German Bundesliga with value in all leagues. Not only the top league or whatever. That’s still achievable.”
eSports Pro: So is that the solution? Should Riot keep relegation but make the Challenger series more than just a pathway into the LCS?
cArn: “I think we should find a middle way that works for everyone. I think it’s surely too early to just close the league and cap it at 10 teams. Could you extend it to 12 teams? Potentially you could, perhaps by having some kind of transition year. But we are not a team that is too concerned about relegation to be honest. We are staying higher than that. There is a commercial disadvantage for not having the certainty that you’re going to be in this league for at least a year, which is the average duration in any sport league in the world, right?”
eSports Pro: So is the issue with how regularly teams are relegated from the LCS, after all it is only a matter of weeks between teams qualifying and then potentially getting relegated?
cArn: “Here we’re talking about four months and that’s quite cut-throat, right? Things can go wrong. You can have a bad Split. Maybe two of the players get an injury or the entire team is having the stomach flu over two weeks. Then you can crash out. It’s very hard to get back from that. Not that I know the most recent price tag for a team in LCS, but I don’t know what Fnatic would do if we crash out. Surely, we’ll do our best in challenger, but if that doesn’t work, maybe we’ll start to continue into another game. I don’t know.”
“All that said, there are pros and cons. We are not adverse to a certain model or whatever. We are more here for the long term and it’s important that interest and stability for all stakeholders is well-represented; game developers, fans, players, organisations, sponsors. There’s a lot of work to be done to protect all these people’s interests and accelerate the growth of eSports, the value of eSports, and how valuable this platform is for newcomers, new brands that want to get into the space.”
“It’s like the million dollar question, right? What is the perfect formula for this? I don’t know, but I think it can be improved for sure.”
That’s all of our chat with cArn. Part one, two, three, four and five are all available by clicking the links. We would like to thank cArn for taking the time to speak to us at length about all things Fnatic.