Riot Games, the developers behind League of Legends, are reportedly under “extreme pressure” in the lead-up to the 2018 NA LCS. The news comes as they pushed back the deadline for franchise spot applications. The new deadline is now July 28. The original six-week deadline put a lot of pressure on bidders. Now it seems that that pressure is still building. They also report “massive demand for one of the permanent spots in the reformatted league.”
At the time, Riot Games said that promotion and relegation will be axed for permanent league slots, and teams will enter revenue sharing and the Challenger Series will evolve into an Academy League. Riot will assess teams on criteria including brand planning and fan engagement, esports familiarity, funding/sponsorship strategy and future talent development. Riot is also preferring the term “permanent partnerships” over franchises.
The entry fees will help fund league services, including a new Player Association. Riot is also committing to a minimum player salary of $75,000. And they will share 35 percent of league revenue with pros. To quell fears that losing relegation would affect skill level, the LCS will reward strong performances. And they will dish out “escalating penalties” for continuous losses.
Six weeks later, it’s being reported that Riot Games’ investors are under pressure due to a lack of funding. The current aim is to gather a $10 million franchise fee. The original deadline to meet this target was over a week ago. Now, Riot Games is starting to feel the heat. People are speculating that they were moving too fast. Originally, they announced franchising and revenue sharing in May of this year. That left only two months to hit the $10 million target.
Extra stability for the league.
In the past, investor funded teams have floundered out of both the NA and EU LCS. NRG Esports disbanded after their relegation, while German sports-club owned Schalke ’04 bounced into the tier two Challenger Series. Obviously, this is bad news for Riot. The move into franchising is meant to cause stability, but the upfront cost might not be an investment every team in the league table can manage, and some may not see it as ultimately valuable for a competition with limited growth potential.
The current delays are out of character for Riot Games. The League of Legends developer has almost always delivered on promises, with very little, if any, time delay. Over the years, they compulsively moved forward with almost yearly fixes and updates to its LCS system to improve viewer and player experience.
Flexibility could sustain the league.
Currently, it is unlikely to result in any negatives for Riot’s franchising moves, it’s good to know that the company is willing to be flexible as eSports moves towards a more reliable form of sustainability. Riot Games originally planned to announce its franchise winners in November. This will still set to be the case. The news comes not long after League of Legends got Autofill role selection changes. You can read more details about the change here.