In a potentially historic, industry-rattling move, the North American League of Legends Championship Series Players Association (NA LCSPA) announced today an overwhelming player vote for a walk-out, marking the first industrial action of its magnitude in esports.
This decision strikes in response to Riot's recent controversial announcement that it will no longer mandate league franchised teams to maintain an academy team for the North American Challengers League (NACL), the breeding ground of LCS. Such a choice could potentially displace five aspiring players and their support staff from each team that opts out, creating a shockwave across the esports ecosystem.
Among the ten teams contesting in the LCS, only three, Team Liquid, FlyQuest, and Evil Geniuses, chose to keep their academy teams intact. A shocking revelation by Phillip Aram, the executive director of the PA, intensifies this dramatic turn of events. Aram accused Riot of deceit about the future of the NACL, claiming they were blindsided by the changes that were purportedly set for 2024 but were implemented prematurely.
The Players Association's statement further elucidated the rationale behind their extraordinary decision. The players find themselves in an impasse, citing a lack of communication and consultation from Riot regarding these disruptive changes. They remain hopeful that Riot will step up and engage in open and transparent discussions, forging a path to a solution that respects the interests of all parties.
The LCSPA has made their demands clear in a prior tweet. These include implementing a 'Valorant Style' promotion/relegation system, committing to a $300k per NACL team per year revenue pool for player salaries, allowing LCS organizations to form affiliate partnerships for cost-sharing, guaranteeing LCS minimum contracts for the following year for LCS summer finals winners, and establishing a 3/5 roster continuity rule prioritizing displaced NACL players in the upcoming season.
The LCS currently remains silent, leaving the esports world holding its breath for their response to this groundbreaking walk-out. With negotiations likely to continue in the coming days and the LCS summer split looming on June 1st, all eyes are set on the unfolding drama in this esports saga. The players have made their stand, and now the ball is in Riot's court.