League of Legends Esports 2018

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LoL Esports – Vision for the Future

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Note: These changes will only affect the NA LCS.
Lolesports leaders Whalen Rozelle and Jarred Kennedy highlight the changes they’re bringing to the competitive scene of 2018. Despite the summer split having just started, the esports team has already reached out to the community with ideas and plans for the next year, proving themselves to be the visionaries needed to lead the esports scene.
Back in 2012, Brandon Beck, one of the founders of Riot Games described a change in the esports scene to turn competitive video games into an event just as exciting as traditional sports. Where fans from all over the world would jump and scream in hype or frustration as their favorite teams emerge victorious or fall under pressure. Where video games are not just pleasant pastimes, but careers for the future.
The time came for Riot Games to act on their vision and they proposed three major changes:

  • Revenue sharing with League
  • More protection for pro-players
  • Changes in League structure

Revenue sharing with League

Team owners and Riot Games join hands to sustain the future of the esports scene. Profits earned by parties in agreement will be distributed equally. This includes all profits Riot earns from in-game sales and revenue generated from merchandise by organizations. According to Kennedy, this partnership will build a more financially stable future for the esports scene.
However, there is a buy-in fee of 10 million dollars for organizations to become part of the circle. At first glance, that is a ridiculous amount of money to invest in something that may or may not return in revenue. Also, this opens up the potential of organizations who are not as invested in the growth of esports so much as try to reap its profits after seeing its exponential growth in popularity in the recent years. Rozelle and Kennedy addressed this issue in a discussion with Yahoo Esports, they stated that they’re not looking to sell to the highest bidder, but rather the people who can see the milestones to develop the League esports scene.
Now, you’re probably wondering what 10 million dollar is out of the reach of your favourite teams. Because let’s be real, a small fee of 10 million dollars? It’s not that small, especially for a scene that is just starting to grow in popularity. Rozelle mentioned that the structure of the buy-in will be flexible for organizations if Riot sees they have the right mindset and talent to be a partner. “We’re actually going to structure the payment so it’s a little bit easier to get in, so it’ll actually be half up-front and then the rest will actually be deferred, again, the goal is not to create a barrier that is so high that a team that should be in the league, can’t get in the league”
We can only trust Riot to do right by us.

More protection for pro-players

While our beloved pros may be great at the game, they’re not accustomed to thoroughly read the contracts they sign. According to CEO of IMT Noah Whinston “Right now, if a player is unrepresented, they’ll probably see the number of years and salary on the first page.” Throughout the years, there has often been complains by pros that they did not fully understand the contract.
Thus, Riot has decided to set up and fund a Players Association where pros, old and new, can seek counsel when joining a new team or even freshly entering the scene. The association will be set up in a step by step process. The Riot will provide the players with a pool of agents and law firms or even veteran players who know the ins and outs of the trade. From there players themselves will vote on who they want to represent them.

Image via LoL Esports

With representation, this will mean that salaries of pros will increase due to the fact that during negotiations, pros will have someone they trust with their best interest in mind with them. This ensures that they won’t be pressured into accepting a deal that does not do them justice, simply because they believe that there is no other choices. Team owners of IMT and TSM, Noah Whinston and Andy Dinh respectively express their excitement for this new system. Because this means that players will have a clearer understanding of the contract and will not just see the salaries that organizations offer but also the benefits outside of money.

Changes in League structure

Here comes the controversial part. Now, all teams that participate in the NA LCS will be there as permanent partners of Riot Games. But before they can do that, there are three phases to go through:

  1. Application Submission
  2. Application Review
  3. Partner Announcement

Guess this means we won’t be seeing any scrappy teams put together in someone’s garage participating the NA LCS. Although this ensures the stability of the esports scene,it will be harder for a group of friends to convince Riot for a spot in the NA LCS. Small startup organizations will have trouble entering the league– especially considering the amount of money required to buy in.
On the flipside, teams that appear in the league no longer have to worry about dropping out of the league the next season due to lack of funding. This allows fans to commit to teams in the league and ensures steady fan base growth for teams in the League. Definitely a tricky change but we’ll have to wait and watch the changes unravel for better or for worse before anything can be fixed.
For the full discussion, check out Yahoo Esports video
For the official details, visit the lolesports website.

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