Leaving the LCS: How Riot Games and the Players Association Got Here

For the first time in North American esports history, an organized group of players voted to “drop out” to secure a more favorable labor agreement with the league in which they compete. That’s why the LCS strike is so important.

The League Championship Series Summer Split was scheduled to begin on Thursday, June 1, but a vote by League of Legends players in the North American LCS Players Association put that start date in jeopardy, and Riot delayed the start of the season by two weeks.

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The walkout is in protest of Riot Games’ decision to remove the requirement for LCS teams to have a Challengers team. Challenger teams, formerly known as Academy teams, are developmental rosters filled with aspiring LCS professionals who compete in the North American Challengers League (NACL). Simply put, the LCSPA strongly believes in the importance of the NACL and believes that Riot’s removal of the requirement for LCS teams to submit a development roster would hurt the league and the prospects of aspiring League of Legends professionals. in the region.

How did we get here? Here is a brief summary of the events of the last month leading up to the strike vote.

May 6th

a report of LCS Eevee Revealed that LCS teams had voted unanimously to remove the requirement to field a Challengers team starting in 2024, but were pushing to remove the requirement as soon as this summer.

May 12

Riot Games announced several changes to the North American Challengers League. One of the biggest changes was removing the requirement for LCS teams to have an affiliated Challengers team starting with the NACL summer season.

Riot wasn’t killing the development league, but since it had previously been filled mostly with Challengers/Academy teams for LCS teams, there were a lot of questions about which LCS teams would leave their Challengers teams and what the league would look like.

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The LCS players’ association issued a statement expressing its dissatisfaction with the move. The LCSPA appeared to be surprised by the move, stating that Riot had assured it that no changes would be made in 2023. The LCSPA claimed that up to 70 players, coaches and managers would lose their jobs overnight as Riot sought to appease LCS owners seeking financial relief.

The LCSPA also outlined a proposal to help reduce costs for LCS teams in 2024 and beyond, including allowing NACL players to be paid according to local wage laws instead of California law. and allow LCS teams to partner with affiliates to share the costs in operating their NACL teams. .


may 23

Washington Post reporter Mikhail Klimentov revealed that the LCSPA would hold a vote to determine whether players would walk out in protest of Riot’s decision on the NACL. The LCSPA also revealed a list of demands that include instituting a promotion/relegation system between the LCS and the NACL and committing to a revenue pool of $300,000 per NACL team per year.


May 24

Nearly two weeks after Riot’s announcement of the changes to the NACL and after most LCS teams dropped their NACL rosters, the 10 teams that will compete in the NACL for the summer of 2023 have been revealed. Evil Geniuses, FlyQuest, and Team Liquid were among the 10 LCS teams that retained their Challenger rosters.

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May 28

The LCSPA announced that players had voted to go on strike in protest of Riot’s changes to the NACL. The number of players who voted for and against was not revealed, only that the resolution had “passed overwhelmingly”.


May 29

The LCSPA issued a statement urging North American League of Legends players not to be “scabs” and play for LCS teams looking for replacement players. The LCSPA stated that “crossing the line” would undermine the LCSPA’s ability to negotiate a more favorable agreement.


May 30

With the summer split two days away, Riot announced that the season would be pushed back two weeks while it continued to negotiate with the LCSPA. Riot’s response to the players association’s demands did not indicate that a resolution was near, and the ultimatum it issued was ominous. “Delaying beyond the two-week window would make it nearly impossible to conduct legitimate competition, and in that case, we would be prepared to cancel the entire LCS summer season,” global head of LoL esports Naz Aletaha said in a statement. the notice. . “Continuing on from this, if the LCS summer season is cancelled, this will also eliminate LCS teams that qualify for Worlds 2023.”

Main photo credit: Riot Games