Riot Games reveals details of permanent partners for NA LCS, replaces Challenger Series, and announces Player’s Association plans

Riot Games is changing up how NA LCS will function in 2018. (Riot Games)

Riot Games is changing up how NA LCS will function in 2018. (Riot Games)Riot Games has announced the details of its plans for permanent partners within the NA LCS, future of the Challenger Series, a NA LCS Player’s Association, and more.

According to the announcement, the changes are being implemented with a focus on three main points; changing the league structure to encourage long-term investments, revenue sharing to provide “a better foundation for teams”, and giving pro players a “larger voice and better protection.”

These are the biggest changes coming to the league.

NA LCS 2018

The NA LCS will have a different structure starting in 2018. From then onwards, all teams will be permanent partners of the league. Prior to this, teams will have to undergo an application process, which upon completion will mean that they no longer have to face relegation. New teams will no longer have to compete in a promotion tournament to prove their right to participate in the NA LCS.

With relegation out of the picture, Riot Games will be implementing financial incentives for each placement in the league. There will also be penalties for teams who finish in last place. A team that finishes in 9th-10th place five times over an eight-split span will lose their right to compete in the NA LCS.

The new structure will be rolled out in the following three phases.

During phase 1, Riot Games will be working with “expert third parties” to ask teams about their plans for their NA LCS team and organization.

During phase 2, Riot Games will go through team proposals, finances, and conduct credit checks and background checks for the owners. Teams must also conduct an in-person presentation and Q&A.

During phase 3, Riot Games will select the partner teams and announce the 2018 NA LCS competing teams in Q4 2017.

Teams will be able to vote on their chosen player representative. (Jeremy Wacker)

Revenue sharing

The new partnership structure means that Riot Games will be sharing league-based revenues. Conversely, teams will also be required to share a portion of their league-driven revenues as well, which includes things like sponsorships and merchandise sales. According to the announcement, this move will align “the interests of all parties (while still granting considerable opportunity for motivated owners and superstar players to earn outsized revenues), creating a strong and competitive ecosystem.”  

No more Challenger Series

Riot Games will be doing away with the Challenger Series, and instead oversee an Academy League. In this league, each NA LCS organization will field a team of “developmental players.”

The idea behind this is to provide teams with deeper rosters to experiment with younger players, provide enough spots in the league for all LCS teams to be represented, and offer more games for teams to develop Academy players.

Teams will have financial incentives that reward their performance in the split. (Jeremy Wacker)

The Player’s Association

Riot Games will be creating a Player’s Association for NA LCS players. This association will launch this year, and be funded by Riot Games until players are ready to self-fund the association themselves, or opt to convert it to an independent Players’ Union.

Representatives in the Player’s Association will be voted in by the players themselves. These representatives will only be responsible to the players and act independently. They will have a seat at the table in league decisions, and provide vetted access to support services and resources such as agents, lawyers, financial advisers.

The Player’s Association will be launched in the following steps:

In step one, Riot Games will present a curated list of representatives to the NA LCS players in June. The players can vote to elect their representatives, or reject all candidates.

In step two, the newly elected Player’s Association representatives will have from July until September to meet with the players and finish setting up.

In step three, the Player’s Association will be fully launched and provide “centralized representation for players in tri-party negotiations” where Riot Games, team owners, and players are involved. The association will also provide access to resources such as legal advice to help players.

Yahoo Esports interviewed Riot Games co-head of esports Whalen Rozelle, co-head of esports and head of merchandising Jarred Kennedy, Immortals CEO Noah Whinston, and Team SoloMid founder and owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh in a discussion on the changes. For information, including everyone’s stance on the news, read the full break down in our article.