LCS Delays the Summer Split Start for Two Weeks, Cancelation Is a Possibility

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LCS Delays the Summer Split Start for Two Weeks, Cancelation Is a Possibility

LCS will start two weeks later than the scheduled June 1 opening day due to the LCS player walkout protesting Riot’s decisions surrounding NACL.

2023 LCS Summer Split was supposed to kick off with its Opening Day in just two days, but after a historic walkout protest by the LCS players under the LCS Players Association, Riot just decided to delay the split start by two weeks. The new first day for the Summer Split will be on June 15, if the negotiations between Riot and LCSPA can be resolved before that date. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, Riot's Global Head of League of Legends Esports, Naz Aletaha, said they would have to cancel the split as “delaying beyond the two-week window would make it nearly impossible to run a legitimate competition.”

What is the LCS player walkout about?

The LCS player walkout is a response by players to Riot Games' decision to remove the requirement for LCS organizations to field teams in the North American Challengers League. The controversy began when Riot Games announced that LCS organizations would no longer be obligated to participate in the NACL, which serves as a feeder system for the LCS. The LCS Players Association then organized a vote among LCS players, and the majority voted in favor of a walkout.

The walkout is intended to protest Riot's decision and highlight the players' concerns regarding the lack of communication and consultation with them before implementing the NACL rule change. The LCSPA expressed disappointment with Riot's decision, especially since Riot had previously assured them that there would be no major changes to the ecosystem before the 2024 season.

The LCSPA outlined several requests, including the implementation of a relegation and promotion system between the LCS and NACL, financial support for NACL teams, minimum contracts for championship players and a roster continuity rule for NACL teams.

While no specific date for the walkout was confirmed, it was anticipated to take place on the opening day of the 2023 LCS Summer Split. This walkout is a significant decision in the history of esports, as large-scale player actions of this nature have not been witnessed before.

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Fans and industry figures have expressed support for the players' decision, emphasizing the importance of open dialogue between Riot and the LCS players to address their concerns and work toward a mutually beneficial solution. But Riot has been taking a more aggressive approach toward the negotiation process.

The Game Haus’s Sander Hove reported yesterday that Riot informed teams that they would oblige teams to field rosters on the opening day. To help with signing new players, Riot also extended the roster lock deadline and forgo the previous rank requirement to play in the LCS (Diamond 1+).

Start of LCS delayed for two weeks with canceling it still on the table

LCS finally responded to the reports with a blog post by Naz Alateha, stating they support players and teams, and they more than ever believe in the LCS and Tier 2 development system. To show Riot’s commitment to the developmental scene of North America, Riot is giving a $300k stipend to Rally Cry, the company that helps run NACL, while promising to work with “LCS and NACL teams, along with the LCSPA, to increase upward mobility opportunities for players to the LCS.”

Riot is also delaying the 2023 LCS Summer Split start by two weeks to give some time for negotiations between LCSPA and Riot. However, if there is no satisfying outcome in this period, Riot is ready to cancel LCS altogether, which would also mean no North American teams in the 2023 World Championship. “That is not an outcome we’d want, but it’s unfortunately the reality of ensuring we run a fair, competitive global system,” Aletaha said about the possibility of the cancelation.

Tough times ahead for LCSPA as Riot snubs their initial demands

As mentioned, LCSPA had put out a five-item list about their asks from Riot to end the walkout. The article on also touched on these demands, but unfortunately for the players and LCSPA, Riot doesn’t seem favorable to them.

lcspa asks
Image via LCS Players Association Twitter

As mentioned, LCSPA had put out a five-item list about their asks from Riot to end the walkout. The article on also touched on these demands, but unfortunately for the players and LCSPA, Riot doesn’t seem favorable to them.

Institute VALORANT style promotion and relegation between LCS and NACL

This demand was always going to be the hardest to achieve for LCSPA, and just as many expected, Riot isn’t willing to make changes to its LoL Esports franchising model. Unlike Valorant, LCS teams each paid about $10M for their spots in the league, so bringing more teams into this closed system, even without a guarantee of no relegation for the 10 franchised teams, would be a hard sell. Coupled with the rough economic situation esports as a whole industry finds itself in, it is no surprise Riot isn’t considering it.

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Riot guarantees LCS minimum contracts for the following year for five players who win NACL Summer Finals

Riot also refused this demand by saying it is on the teams to decide which players should have a spot in the LCS, but there might be a miscommunication about this item. LCSPA’s original Twitter post was about players winning the LCS Summer, while Riot’s article talks about NACL winners. So there might be some wires crossed at some point.

Institute a 3/5 continuity rule to provide players on released NACL rosters first priority in maintaining their slots in the upcoming NACL season if a majority continue to compete together.

Teams provide greater continuity and structure, and therefore we will continue with our policy of slot ownership residing with organizations rather than players.”

Riot commits to a revenue pool for player salaries of $300,000 per NACL team, per year.

Riot doesn’t share any numbers about revenue generated by LoL Esports as a whole, or any league specific info. So it is hard to contextualize how much of an ask this pool of $3M to $4.8M (NACL has 10 teams this split, but had 16 in Spring).

Still, the article claims this “subsidy” would be unsustainable and unnecessary, since no other tier two league needs this kind of assistance. Instead, Riot is giving “a special, one-time payment of $300,000 to the NACL’s Tournament Operator (Rally Cry) to support NACL teams during the transition to the new structure.”

Allow LCS orgs to partner with affiliates for cost-sharing.

Riot says this is already allowed and will continue to be allowed. For example, Golden Guardians had announced they were partnering with Area of Effect in their statement about leaving NACL.

There is no response to the announcement by LCS Players Association yet. The future of the LCS Summer Split, and potentially the future of LCS general, will be decided in the upcoming two weeks by LCSPA and Riot.

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