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League of Legends community respond to LCSPA walkout

League of Legends community respond to LCSPA walkout
LCSPA

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch

Published 

30th May 2023 14:04

In a near unprecedented move in esports, members of the League of Legends Championship Series Player Association (LCSPA) have staged a walkout, showing their displeasure towards recent decisions made by Riot Games, the developer of the popular game League of Legends.

The players' outcry has sparked a wide conversation about the state of the LCS and its decision to ease economic woes by cutting support for its developmental program, the North American Challengers League (NACL).

The demands

The protest revolves around recent changes implemented by Riot, primarily the removal of the requirement for LCS teams to field NACL teams. The NACL serves as a crucial incubator for North American talent, with over half of LCS professionals graduating from this league.

The LCSPA argues that this decision will lead to the loss of approximately 70 jobs and undermines the growth of North American talent.

On May 12, 2023, the LCSPA released a statement in which they criticized Riot for what they consider rash and contradictory decisions. The association also alleges that despite engaging Riot in dialogue about potential transition plans, they were ignored.

Additionally, the LCSPA has proposed a list of demands to Riot, including the introduction of a promotion and relegation system and a $300,000 revenue pool for each NACL team, among other requests.

The measures

In response to Riot's decision, the LCSPA put a potential walkout up to a vote to its constituents which passed with an overwhelming majority voting in favour. 

With the LCS starting on Thursday, June 1st 2023, it is expected that a majority of LCS players will not show up to play in their matches. The aim of this action is to show solidarity with NACL players and staff who suddenly found themselves without a job when seven of the ten LCS teams decided to drop their NACL rosters.

Riot Games' response

LCS teams are reportedly required to maintain competitive rosters due to a standing agreement with Riot. According to LCS Eevee's Twitter account, teams will need to sign new players to meet this obligation.

According to the rules of the LCS, Riot required players on its franchise teams to have held a “peak solo queue ranking within the last year of Diamond 1 or above.” As North American interviewer and content creator Travis Gafford revealed during the Hotline League podcast, that requirement has also been dropped by the League in order to make finding replacements to field a starting roster easier.

This opens the door for teams to hastily fill their rosters and resume play, potentially with rosters that would not meet the criteria of conventional competitive play.

Comments from the community

The esports community has largely rallied behind the LCSPA, expressing concern about Riot's response to the walkout. Erik “DoA” Lonnquist, a well-respected esports commentator, took to Twitter to voice his support: "We don't need an LCS with fake rosters. We need an LCS with players that are respected and treated like the professionals they are."

Gbay99, a renowned LoL content creator, acknowledged the actions of foreign players who supported the walkout, tweeting, "Shoutout to any imports that voted yes to the walkout even though they really had no reason to.”

Daniel Clerke of the Maryville University esports program also commented on the matter on Twitter, stating that “Maryville League of Legends is not interested in filling for an LCS team during this player strike.

We are interested in NACL partnerships that will elevate the NA talent pipeline, but not until this situation is resolved with the teams, players, and Riot in an amicable way.

Our players were excited to watch the LCS while in LA for CLoL so it has been disappointing to see this situation unfold.”

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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