LCS Player Association Calls Out Riot Games’ Plans for NA Challengers League
Riot Games and the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) about the future of the North American Challengers League (NACL) which is used as a developmental ground for the LCS. Among the many changes listed in the update, the biggest one is that LCS organizations will no longer be required to field an NACL team by mandate.
In its , the league said that LCS teams asked to remove the mandate to field an NACL team starting with Summer 2023 to unlock more operational and financial stability. It continued, “After reviewing their proposal, we’ve agreed to their request in this case to support the continued, long-term success of the teams and the professional esports ecosystem in North America.”
However, the LCS Player Association (LCSPA) raised concerns about this decision and the future of the NACL. Directed at the LCS and Riot Games, the LCSPA issued a four-point counterproposal aimed at keeping the ecosystem viable both in the long term and short term.
LCSPA compares NACL to other Challengers Leagues around the world
The LCSPA’s response called out Riot Games' alleged lack of commitment to the NACL and called on all the members of the LCS and NACL community including players, coaches, streamers, and fans to stand up in unison and demand Riot Games to reverse its decision.
The Association said, “While the statement today was framed as a commitment to the NACL, the reality is that as many as 70 players, coaches, and managers will lose their jobs overnight.” It stated that the esports leadership at Riot Games LCSPA assurred that no changes would be made in 2023 for the CL “as recently as one week ago.”
It argued that over 50% of current LCS pros came up through the NACL/Academy system. It added that the promotion of home-grown talent not only fuels financial savings for teams, it also ignites fans around the next generation of talent.
While Riot Games called its decision an attempt to increase financial stability, the LCSPA claimed that the average annual salary cost of an entire NACL roster represents “less than 17% of an average LCS organization's League-based salary costs in a year.”
It further lambasted the league comparing the NACL with the European Region Leagues (ERLs) and the Challenger rosters and leagues of Korea and China. “By comparison, North America now has a developmental product with no viewership, no institutional support, no paying jobs, and no future,” rued the Association.
It presented with a counterproposal to help make the NACL and LCS viable:
NACL players be paid based on local wage laws instead of California labor minimums.
Allow teams to partner with affiliate organizations to operate their NACL rosters and share costs
Introduce a robust in-game item program for LCS teams that mirrors their generous revenue-sharing program in Valorant
Introduce meaningful incentives like promotion/relegation and revenue sharing for outside organizations to invest in NACL rosters
The LCSPA believed that these proposals will reduce the costs associated with an NACL roster by as much as 50% and help keep the LCS and NACL ecosystems thriving in the years to come.
The NACL Summer Split 2023 is all set to begin in June.
You can read about all the other changes that Riot Games has in line for the NACL in this official blogpost.