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Riot Games to help start League of Legends players union, aims for players to eventually fund it independently

Riot Games will aid in the creation of a players union for the North American League of Legends Championship Series teams (NA LCS) next year.
Riot Games will aid in the creation of a players union for the North American League of Legends Championship Series teams (NA LCS) next year.

Part of Riot Games’ changes to the North American League of Legends Championship Series starting next year include the formation of a players union as well as a platform to further conversations with Riot and NA LCS teams about the direction of the league.

Riot will make wholesale changes to the NA LCS structure next year, including the elimination of relegation and revenue sharing for teams. Riot will also work to start a union for players and will start with funding it and establishing pool of vetted candidates of potential player representatives. Those representatives will be independently voted by the players and included in tri-party negotiations with Riot and the owners of the NA LCS teams.

During a Yahoo Esports roundtable, Riot representatives clarified the pool will be present in order to make sure the properly qualified people become representatives. There are risks of players — who don’t have any outstanding legal or financial expertise — electing the wrong representatives, and a vetted pool is intended to be a “starting point” of sorts.

The goal for Riot and the team owners seem to be aligned in an effort to educate the players on many subjects. Team SoloMid’s owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh said players can now know what they’ll be getting from the teams, and that players often “don’t really understand” what they’re signing. Immortals CEO Noah Whinston also voiced a wish to let players know “everything a team has to offer outside of just salary,” and that the association can be the right step to achieve that goal.

The representatives are ultimately chosen by a vote, without any intervention from Riot, as to who become representatives. Riot says its goal is to establish the groundwork for the union and gradually have less to do with it until the players run it independently. That means other people outside the vetted list of experts can eventually be taken into consideration.

The implementation of a union and increased collaboration does not mean Riot Games is giving up all its power, though. International decisions — such as where the League of Legends World Championship will be held — will not be a joint decision. Most decisions that impact NA’s own ecosystem are set to have a voting process, though a concrete voting decision matrix and which decisions will merit a vote is still unclear.


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