LCS names new commissioner, has work cut out for him

LCS names new commissioner, has work cut out for him
Image via Mark Zimmerman

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


13th Dec 2023 12:10

Riot Games has announced the new commissioner of its North American League of Legends franchise league, LCS. Former coach and broadcast talent, Mark "MarkZ" Zimmerman, will be taking over the leadership position.

The news arrives amid a period of the LCS that was marked by crashing viewership numbers, exiting franchises, and unresolved investigations.

An endemic choice

Zimmerman started his career in League of Legends over a decade ago with Team Curse as an analyst, later moving to Team Liquid in 2015, where he stayed for approximately two years.

He also worked for third-party organisations within proximity of the League community, such as the streaming group OfflineTV, and eventually, ended up as a broadcast talent for the LCS for the last five years.

He was also a podcast co-host of the popular League podcast, Hotline League, together with content creator and interviewer Travis Gafford - running for over six years. The two announced Zimmerman's departure from the show as a regular co-host during the 300th episode, sharing that they still intend to bring the commissioner back as a guest on the occasion.

In an announcement video by Gafford, he explained that Zimmerman had been working towards the position for a while, and the two had been steering the anniversary episode to be their final one.

The most important thing I can do right now is focus on learning what this role entails,” Zimmerman shared, explaining that he would be going radio-silent until January, after which he intends to facilitate transparent communication with the community going forward.

Stepping into the ring

The LCS has seen a consistent loss in viewership over the last couple of years. According to esports viewership analytics tool EsportsCharts, 76,889 Average Viewers over 155 hours of airtime had tuned in for the LCS Summer Split. During the 2020 Summer season, 205,750 viewers had tuned in on average over a comparable 165 hours of airtime. 

While not an entirely fair comparison given external factors brought about by increased general streaming viewership numbers by the global pandemic, a more telling metric is the modest payout Riot Games was able to satisfy two of its former franchises with to leave the league. 

According to a report by journalist Jacob Wolf, Riot gave the leaving franchises Evil Geniuses and Golden Guardians $6 million USD on top of debt forgiveness and the outstanding share of the revenue pool, which Wolf’s sources evaluated to be worth between $1 and $1.3 million.

The implied slot evaluation stands in contrast to the most recent news from its sister league, the LEC, with a former slot owner, Astralis, announcing that it was selling a majority number of its shares to Karmine Corp, agreeing to a slot price of approximately $28 million.

By comparison, one of LCS' most tenured organisations in TSM sold their slot to Shopify Rebellion for $10 million, according to New York Times reporter Kellen Browning.

Moreover, Riot still owes a report on an investigation regarding a reported player mistreatment allegation by Evil Geniuses against their 18-year-old AD-Carry player Kyle "Danny" Sakamaki. Esports journalist Richard Lewis’ sources shared that the player's health had been neglected to the point that he had to seek out a physician, suffering from malnutrition.

In tandem with the news on Zimmerman, the LCS announced that it would be returning to weekend broadcasts, starting on January 20, 2024, with the start of the new season.

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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