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Riot Games announces NA LCS franchising for 2018; $10 million price tag for entry

Riot Games announced Thursday a franchising system for the NA LCS, which will go into effect in 2018.
Riot Games announced Thursday a franchising system for the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS), which will go into effect in 2018. It will cost $10 million to be in the league. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

Riot Games announced Thursday its plans for changes to the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS), which includes the abolishment of the relegation system, revenue sharing with the teams, and a player association in the works.

The league will now run under a franchise system, which means relegation, where bottom-placing teams each split had to defend their spot against Challenger teams, will be no more. LCS teams will be now “partners” with the league, and an application process will take place after the summer split to determine which 10 teams will get a spot. The application fee is $10 million, according to a video interview members of Riot Games conducted with Yahoo Esports.

In order to maintain a “competitive edge,” a team can be removed from the league if it places ninth and 10th five times across eight splits. That also means teams that are granted LCS spots after the summer split will be in the league for a minimum of four years. For those teams doing well, Riot will introduce financial incentives, with bigger rewards going to those teams that continually perform well.

Revenue sharing will also be introduced, as all of the revenue generated by the league will be pooled into a single source and then distributed to the players, teams, and Riot. Players will take 35 percent of the revenue, and the teams and Riot will each take 32.5 percent..

The players will also get an increase in their base salary to $75,000 per year, which will be “will be 100 percent guaranteed” by Riot. Those salaries will be their baseline compensation for competition, and any additional income from revenue sharing will be extras on top of that.

For the players’ association, the pros will vote to choose their representatives, which Riot will fund at the beginning with the hope the players eventually take over funding for it, which would make the association an independent body. As a base of tri-party negotiations between Riot, teams, and players, the association will be a resource of legal or financial advice to players in hopes of assisting their career progression and protection.

The application process goes through July 14, and the teams for 2018 will be announced in November. An update on the players association is expected in August.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games

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