Would NA LCS Pros Have Been “Too Lazy” To Set Up Their Own Players’ Association?

Riot Games’ plans to construct a ‘Players’ Association’ have been met with mixed reviews. The developer’s direct involvement in the process has raised eyebrows within some segments of the community, but FlyQuest eSports’ Daerek “LemonNation” Hart believes the project would never have got off the ground if left to the players’ own devices.

In an interview with Slingshot eSports, LemonNation clarified his stance on the prospect of a Players’ Association. Unionisation is now a standard movement in all major American sports leagues and similarly the Association seek to represent all NA LCS players, a project Riot will look to initiate with their own initial start-up capital.

The aim of the Association will be to 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.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

“I think a players association is definitely needed and I’m very happy that Riot’s taken the initiative to start it.

“Without Riot actually taking the initiative to fund it and get good representatives as options for us, it just wouldn’t get off the ground.”

Daerek “LemonNation” Hart

Riot’s involvement in creating the Players Association has been criticised in part as a ploy to masquerade influence over the NA LCS pros as an effort to improve players’ rights.

Importantly however, Riot Games never prevented players from forming their own independent union; the option was always available to professional players given that they took the initiative… and yet significant steps were never taken towards unionisation.

Before Riot’s announced plans, the closest League of Legends eSports professionals came to forming a players’ union was though retired player Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis back in 2014.

The former Evil Geniuses jungler outlined the necessary steps to creation a Players’ Association of sorts and was willing to spearhead the project, yet he never received the necessary support from the pro player community and understandably scrapped his plans for an unionisation.

LemonNation was comfortable providing an explanation as to why it required Riot Games to set up the Players’ Association:

“The only time we were brought all together was by Riot, We were brought together recently for the players summit where we had all the players association talk and stuff like that.

“There’s just no way that the players by themselves would do it, I think most of the players are too lazy and just too focused on other things.

“They’re too focused on competing and winning, we’re all technically on the same side, but we are all competing against each other as well.”

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Setting up a union such as the Players’ Association is a difficult process. Whilst describing the players as “lazy’ might be a poor choice of wording on LemonNation’s behalf, to excuse the NA LCS pros for being ‘pre-occupied’ may a fairer reflection of the situation.

In addition to the start-up costs and administrative challenges the players would have faced, running a union requires a significant time commitment – time, that the majority of professional players, simply do not have to spare.

Riot should be commended for their active steps towards improving player rights, not criticised for taking the initiative to do so.

The issue of balancing workloads and handing over control of the Players’ Association to the elected NA LCS player representatives will undoubtedly present its own array of issues, though given time to tune the finer details – irregardless of any preconceptions of player “laziness” – unionisation in eSports should prove to be a positive development.