Riot Lifts the NACL Roster Requirement for LCS Organizations Starting With the Summer 2023 Season

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Riot Lifts the NACL Roster Requirement for LCS Organizations Starting With the Summer 2023 Season

The organizations competing in the LCS won’t have to field a squad in the feeder system for the league.

There have been a lot of concerns for the North American League of Legends scene lately like bad international results, low viewership and increasing import discussions. LCS fans had also gotten another set of bad news last week when TheGameHaus’ Sander Hove reported that all ten LCS teams had voted against making NACL mandatory for 2024.

Despite the LCS Players Association (LCSPA) responding to this report by saying that they are not expecting any changes to the ecosystem in 2023, LCS just announced today that they are in fact removing the requirement for LCS organizations to participate in the Challengers League.

The statement was released via a blog post on by Riot’s Head of Esports for the Americas region, Raul Fernandez. While Riot and LCS reiterated their commitment to developing young NA talent and the NACL in the post, they also stated the change was made after the LCS teams asked to remove the mandate “in an effort to unlock more operational and financial flexibility.” In a brief overview, Riot’s plans for the future are:

  • Implementation of a true promotion/relegation system for NACL
  • Move the league to the Chicago servers for more accessibility
  • Commitment to long-term sustainability via mechanisms like Twitch subscriptions and team partner broadcast integrations
  • Cross-region competition with the rest of the Americas
  • No changes to the import rules for the LCS rosters
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LCSPA asking fans for their help to rally against the decision

The decision and the announcement by the LCS weren’t received positively on social media. Many LCS or NACL players, casters and personalities shared their opinion on how this decision would hurt not only the NACL but also the LCS. LCSPA wasn’t behind with its response either, calling the decision unprecedented and stating making a call like this without warning and less than a month before the season starts “a stain on [Riot’s] leadership.”

LCSPA also claimed this decision directly contradicted the promises Riot made to them when they said there would be no changes to the NACL in 2023. LCSPA Executive Director Phillip Aram confirmed this in an interview he gave to the LCS reporter Travis Gafford on Gafford’s Twitch stream.

LCSPA said in their statement that the decision was made as a cost-cutting measure for LCS organizations, but Riot ignored a planned proposal from them that would both save orgs money and would preserve NACL as it is. LCSPA's proposal for 2024 included removing the requirement for California labor law-based wages, allowing teams to partner with affiliates to run their Challengers teams and introducing promotion/relegation along with revenue sharing. Aram said this proposal was made over four months ago, but still ignored without an alternative plan on the side of Riot.

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Aram also said an LCS player strike was possible and there is some potential for unionizing in the future. LCSPA’s statement made a call to the community by saying “…please join us in making your voice heard, in publicly calling for Riot to reverse this short-sighted mistake, in working collaboratively with the LCSPA to protect the future of the LCS.” Once again many players and community figures, including Esports Coaches Guild (ECG), come out supporting the message of the PA. ECG put out a statement condemning the LCS’s decision.

TSM is the first team reported to get out of the NACL

It didn’t take long for reports to start coming out about the NACL exodus. Both Aram in his Gafford interview and Sander Hove on his Twitter reported that TSM is dropping their NACL roster. The information from Riot’s Global Contract Database seems to confirm this reporting as TSM only have information for six players on the GCD, five of which are on their LCS team.

When asked about his estimations on how many teams will exit the NACL, Aram predicted only three teams keeping a roster in the league. LCSPA Executive Director also said they are expecting around seventy people to lose their jobs with the upcoming changes, including players, coaches and other team staff.

For more of our LCS and NACL coverage, follow us on ESTNN.

Riot Lifts the NACL Roster Requirement for LCS Organizations Starting With the Summer 2023 Season
Rohat Dicle Kılınç
Rohat is a writer mainly focused on the League of Legends esports scene, and an LCS hopeful.