The 2023 LCS Summer Split start might be delayed with LCSPA voting in favor of an LCS player walkout.
In a historic moment for the esports industry, players from the North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a walkout. The vote was organized by the LCS Players Association (LCSPA) as a response to Riot Games' decision to remove the requirement for LCS organizations to field teams in the North American Challengers League (NACL).
— LCS Players Association (@NALCSPA) May 29, 2023
The controversy began when Riot Games announced on May 12 that LCS organizations would no longer be required to participate in the NACL, which serves as the feeder system for the league. The decision sparked widespread criticism from both the community and players in the LCS and NACL. The LCSPA expressed its disappointment, stating that Riot had previously assured them there would be no major changes to the ecosystem before the 2024 season.
The LCSPA had previously expressed its dissatisfaction with Riot's lack of communication regarding the rule change. LCSPA Executive Director Philip Aram revealed in an interview that the association had proposed an alternative plan over four months ago, which would have addressed cost-cutting concerns while preserving the NACL. However, Riot ignored their proposal, according to Aram, leading to further frustration among the players.
As a result, the LCSPA organized a vote among LCS players to determine whether to proceed with an LCS player walkout. The vote, held on May 28, saw an overwhelming majority of players in favor of the strike action. The LCSPA emphasized Riot's lack of communication with LCS players before implementing the NACL rule change as a key grievance. The association called for league officials to engage in further discussions to address the concerns raised by the players.
The association outlined several requests, including the implementation of a “VALORANT-style” 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. These demands aimed to address the players' concerns and ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the league.
— LCS Players Association (@NALCSPA) May 23, 2023
While the LCSPA has not confirmed the specific date for the walkout, it is widely anticipated that the strike action will take place on the opening day of the 2023 LCS Summer Split, which was originally scheduled for June 1. All 10 LCS teams were set to compete on that day, including a highly anticipated Spring finals rematch between Cloud9 and Golden Guardians. However, the walkout may disrupt the planned start of the season. The walkout, if carried out, would be a landmark event in the history of esports, as such large-scale player walkouts have not been witnessed before.
Fans and industry figures have expressed support for the players' decision online, highlighting the need for open dialogue between Riot and the LCS players to address the concerns and work toward a mutually beneficial solution. As the situation continues to develop, Riot Games and the LCS now face a critical juncture. Already suffering from a lot of economic problems and a very steep decline in viewership numbers, the immediate future of the LCS hangs in the balance, with the scheduled start of the Summer Split now in doubt. The outcome of this pivotal moment might shape the trajectory of the league and its commitment to nurturing North American talent going forward.
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