Riot Games has announced that from 2018 the NA LCS will be a franchised league, with 10 organisations getting a near permanent spot in the competition.
Over the next two weeks organisations can submit applications to become one of the 10 league franchises. They must detail things such as how they will fund their team, what the goals of the org are, how they will help their players transition out of full time playing roles and a string of other areas. If Riot likes what they see then the organisation will be invited to join the NA LCS as one of the 10 teams and will have to pay a $10 million joining fee.
While that seems like a lot of cash it does guarantee them a permanent place in the league. The only way they would be kicked out of the NA LCS is if they finish in the bottom two places in five of eight splits. So three semi decent performances every four years will keep you in the league.
Once the new model is set up the three parties, Riot, teams and the players, will start revenue sharing. Players will be guaranteed at least $75,000 each for their salary, but may get more if their 35% of the revenue share turns out to be worth more than every players salary combined. Orgs will get a 32.5% share of the profits the league makes, but will also have to contribute some of their own branding revenue such as merch sales etc to the sharing pot. Finally Riot will take the final 32.5% share of the profits. In the long run this should mean teams and players make more cash from being in the league.
Interestingly Riot also announced that they are funding the creation of a players association. They hope that eventually the players will be able to fund this themselves, but to kickstart the process they are helping out. In the coming weeks players will be able to select representatives to support them in discussions with Riot and legal issues. The association is expected to start up just before Worlds this year.
This news is one of the most significant in all of League of Legends history. It is something that owners have wanted for years, but Riot has always been reluctant. A letter sent to Riot last year suggested teams would refuse to play in the league if relegation wasn’t removed. While Riot did not remove it for 2017 as requested that surely had some kind of impact on this decision.
The teams that have been selected as the 10 franchises for 2018 will be announced in November.
Riot has also confirmed that the EU LCS will not be franchised at the current time.