Players in the North American League of Legends esports league have voted to walk out in protest of Riot Games’ decision to no longer require franchisees to field an amateur team. The vote, held by the LCS Players Association (l), passed “overwhelmingly.”
The LCSPA made the Twitter announcement on Monday, following tensions that began to rise when Riot Games revealed on May 12th that franchises would no longer be mandated to field teams in the North American Challengers League (NACL), the amateur league for League of Legends.
Franchises had reportedly requested this change, citing the challenging economics of maintaining an amateur team. Subsequently, many franchises swiftly dropped their amateur teams for the summer season, severing an important development pipeline for aspiring players.
League players have expressed their discontent with Riot’s choice to allow franchises to opt out of fielding NACL teams. Palafox, a player for NRG’s LCS team, took to Twitter and said“I wouldn’t be in the LCS if it weren’t for the Academy.”
I wouldn’t be in LCS had it not been for academy really sad to see this for NA. Theres hundreds of things to say about this, but I’m just really disappointed in our Orgs 😕 https://t.co/GcErwTL9QP
— Palafox (@palafoxlol) May 13, 2023
Chime, a TSM player, echoed this sentiment, tweeting:
“The Academy/NACL system provided me with the chance to pursue a professional career.”
Franchises Abandoning the NACL
In the aftermath of Riot’s rule change, five out of the ten teams in the LCS (Cloud9, NRG, 100 Thieves, Dignitas, and Golden Guardians) announced that they would not be participating in the NACL for the summer season. 100 Thieves stated:
“Based on the recent changes made to the NACL by RIot, we’ve decided to pause our Challengers League program and won’t be competing for the remainder of the 2023 season.”
The LCSPA further tweeted that two more teams, Immortals and TSM, would also not field NACL teams. Some franchises cited economic challenges as the reason behind their decisions.
Following these developments, the LCSPA held a vote on whether to proceed with a walkout. The association’s list of demands for Riot Games included guaranteed contracts for one year for the LCS players who win the summer finals, the establishment of a promotion and relegation system between the LCS and the NACL, a roster continuity rule to provide priority for released NACL players in the upcoming season, and revenue pools for NACL salaries.
The LCSPA announced that the walkout vote had passed overwhelmingly. The association emphasized that the decision was made after extensive discussions and debates among all LCS players.
The Players Association said in the Twitter statement:
“This is not a decision LCS players have come to lightly. Countless discussions and debates were had between all LCS players in the week leading to this historic vote. One thing is clear from those conversations—our players want to play and compete above all else. Joining hands to put competition aside is a testament to the significance and urgency of the issues at hand.”
However, the LCSPA expressed hope that Riot would engage in open and transparent discussions to resolve the situation and avert the walkout.
Mixed Reactions To League of Legends’ Walkout
There were varied reactions to the news across social media platforms. Some fans criticized the players’ move, accusing them of not caring about competition or improvement. Others praised the players for standing up for themselves and expressed support for potential positive changes in the LCS.
The Reddit community appreciated the players’ efforts to bring about change, although some acknowledged the need for nuanced discussions on the matter.
At the time of reporting, Riot Games and the LCSPA had not responded to requests for comment. The LCSPA’s walkout represents a significant instance of collective action at the highest levels of esports. The LCS Summer Split is scheduled to begin on June 1st, leaving a narrow window for Riot and the players to reach an agreement and prevent the walkout.
The players’ overwhelming vote highlights their commitment to taking a stand and pushing for necessary changes in the league. It emphasizes their determination to ensure a fair and supportive environment for aspiring players, while also fostering a stronger relationship between the players and Riot Games. T
he outcome of the ongoing discussions will have a profound impact on the North American League of Legends esports league, shaping its future trajectory and the opportunities available for talented individuals striving to make their mark in the competitive scene.
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