Riot is Taking League of Legends to the Next Level
League of Legends is a significant force in eSports and the developers behind the game are always looking at ways they can increase their appeal to viewers. Starting in 2018, the developers, Riot Games have announced a new partnership model for one of the largest eSports events, the NALCS.
This model not only changes the structure of the league, but also the distribution of revenues and the teams involved. This new change is definitely going to change LoL tournaments for the better.
To help you understand what these tournament changes will mean for League of Legends its tournaments we’re taking a closer look at the new model. Will other regions follow suit or is this a special one-off? Here’s what you need to know.
The New Partnership Model
In November of this year, Riot announced that they would be changing the North American League Championship Series to a new permanent partnership structure.
The move comes months after another eSports giant, Overwatch just finalized a similar structure on their own tournament. Blizzard, the developers behind Overwatch, announced that they had recruited 13 teams at $20 million each. With the launch of the league set at the end of the year, nobody is exactly sure how it will turn out. To explain the model simply, it goes like this:
Teams must pay the developer $20 million if they want to compete in the tournament. Sounds outrageous right? Well considering 13 teams have already signed up, not really. The move by Blizzard has definitely raised some eyebrows and has caused a lot of backlash from competing teams. Some teams have even gone as far as to disband and stop competing professionally in Overwatch altogether. Well with a $20 million price tag for a slot, who can blame them?
Since Overwatch’s eSports scene is relatively new, Blizzard have defended the actions as the foundations of building a sustainable eSports ecosystem. By having teams invest money into the tournament, the developers can provide better facilities for players and a better viewing experience for viewers.
However, League of Legends has the largest eSports tournaments in the world and their model has worked fine for years. So why the change?
League of Legends Tournament Changes
The League of Legends eSports tournaments have been doing particularly well in recent years, especially the main event worlds. It’s no secret that Worlds blows almost every other tournament out of the water, and is basically the only tournament 90% of players watch. With the smaller tournaments starting to become forgotten, is this Riot’s attempt to bring LCS tournaments back?
The change is likely to help fuel the growth of the lesser tournaments by providing them with a solid foundation that covers player salaries and guarantees good living conditions. The model also now ensures that players actually receive a percentage of revenue from things such as ticket sales and adverts. The proposed split so far is 1/3rd to players, 1/3rd to teams and 1/3rd to Riot games. This split is to ensure that player’s salary never falls below 33% meaning players don’t necessarily need to win tournaments to make a career from eSports.
This new partnership structure change has already seen 10 teams sign up and pay the $13 million sign up fee. So far teams like Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming have already secured their spots after receiving funding from teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers. This new structure has seen many other established sports teams from the likes of baseball and basketball combine forces with existing eSports teams to purchase a slot. With the franchise fees showing no signs of being lowered, it’s likely that this matching of sports teams will continue into the future.
The hefty $13 million fee guarantees teams a place in the league unless they finish in the last 2 places in 5 of 8 splits. Any team that manages to achieve this shocking achievement will be subject to removal and replacement. Imagine paying $13 mill to get thrown out a tournament for being bad! Hopefully, this will increase the level of competitiveness within the tournament.
Will Other Tournaments Follow?
So far, it’s only been announced that the new partnership model will take effect on the NALCS. This leaves all the other LCS tournaments unchanged. However, the real question is: will other tournaments follow?
The chances are that Riot are testing this new model on the NALCS to see how well it works first. They did say that the changes was permanent and considering a lot of teams have paid good money for their places, it’s very unlikely they’ll reverse the change.
If the new model does benefit everyone involved e.g. the players, sponsors, Riot and the viewers, then there’s a good chance we’ll see this model everywhere. Well almost everywhere. It’s doubtful that they would charge people money to join the World Championships. After all, many teams that compete at Worlds already come from LCS tournaments. If they forced teams to pay double then it’s likely teams would just say no.
Although this model is relatively new and hasn’t really been implemented before, it will be exciting to see how this changes eSports for the better. With a promise by Riot that this will make the tournaments much better to watch, we can only hope they are right.