Riot Games’ announced plans to franchise the North American League of Legends Championship Series will shape the future of the world’s most popular eSport title. Of the outlined changes – including a revenue share agreement, the abolition of the promotion/relegation and a complete reform for the challenger scene – the plan to implement a Players’ Association was perhaps the most surprising policy outlined by the game publisher.
The Players’ Association, a standard movement in all major American sports leagues, reiterates Riot Games’ ambitions for competitive League of Legends and the eSports industry. The Association will be for all NA LCS players, a project Riot will look to get off the ground with their own initial start-up capital.
Emulating the role fulfilled in traditional sports, the Association will give players a voice in any NA LCS decisions, additionally providing players with the supportive services of outside consultants such as agents, lawyers and financial advisors.
The initial funding for the Association will be provided by Riot Games, though the goal remains to move towards self-funding by the players. The hope is that the NA LCS Players’ Association will become a fully independent union in the future, a move actively encouraged by Riot:
“To help kickstart this process, we’re providing pros the resources to set up a Players’ Association.
“Players will vote on independent reps to be their voice in league decisions and the Association will provide easy access to core resources like skills training, financial planning and legal help.
“We’ll be funding the launch of the Association, however the representation that the players vote on and elect is responsible solely to them.
“The goal is that this Association is an independent voice of the players to work with Riot and the teams.
“It’s our hope and expectation that as the association grows, the players assume full financial control over the organization — we believe this is the most effective way to give the process a kick start and provide them with an official voice.”
Riot Games Official Announcement
The process of starting the Players’ Association is set to begin in June, at which point the NA LCS players will be presented with a list of potential representatives to elect. The candidates will be judged and elected based on their ability to represent the players’ interests in the league. Players can also opt to reject all candidates and aggregate a new list of potential representatives.
Following the election result, the Players’ Association representatives will have three months in which to meet with the players, with the aim of agreeing upon terms, policies and addressing any player concerns that wish to be raised.
As of September, the overall interests and the voice of the NA LCS playerbase will be expressed through the elected representatives. The Players’ Association representatives will attend negotiations and meetings on behalf of the LCS players, lobbying to build a sustainable industry for the league’s pros.
The need for Player Associations and unions within the eSports industry has been highlighted far too frequently, with League of Legends cases such as the Tainted Minds scandal in the OCE region and even the Renegades/TDK ruling within North America.
Riot’s decision to provide a union infrastructure for their competitive professionals outlines the publishers ambitions for the future of lolesports: “A strong and stable league, where all parties have an active stake in the future.”