Riot Outlines A Half-Baked Plan For The Future Of League Of Legends’ Esports

Riot Games have finally announced their plans for the future of League of Legends’ eSports, following a public outcry from team owners and the wider LCS community. Riot have taken their time to coordinate a response, but have now outlined their blueprints for revenue sharing and crowdfunding as League of Legends moves forward – it’s a step in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go.

The publisher of the worlds largest eSport title came under public scrutiny a little over a month ago, after LCS organisations publicly criticised the multi-billion dollar company’s distribution of wealth within the eSports scene. Riot’s announcement was specifically tailored to address many of the economic concerns posed to the company in recent months, notably: teams not being able to make ends meet and the gulf in wealth between the eSports scene and the game itself. 

Riot’s plans for the future of LoL eSports have been met with mixed reviews. Of course, any action that serves to implement reform is a positive, but there remains a niggling, underlying feeling that without the pressure of LCS team owners and the #LCSForever movement, these reforms would not have been forthcoming. Thank you William “Scarra” Li – without you, it’s likely that none of this would’ve happened.

Source: TheScoreeSports
Source: TheScoreeSports

“Over the past few months, we’ve heard loud and clear feedback that we haven’t done a great job explaining our long-term vision to players – leading to players confusing our motives and others filling the void.

“This post is designed to tackle that head-on by giving visibility into our long-term motives/goals and how we’re going to get there – as well as some specific tactics for 2017 around in-game content that are designed to help teams bridge the current economic gap that exists in many of our leagues around the world.

“Our goal isn’t to make everyone love us immediately – rather, this is the start of an on-going conversation where we are more transparent and open with players (and over time, build a ton of trust).”

Riot Games Official Announcement

Though it has taken some time for Riot to open their eyes to the value of crowdfunding in eSports – a practice that has been effectively employed in rival titles such as CS:GO and DOTA2 for many seasons now – the victors of the World Championship will now receive a cut of the Team Championship champion skins, whilst other in game purchases will contribute to the overall prize pool of the tournament. Winning Worlds will now not only be a matter of prestige, but also an opportunity for serious financial gain.

Source: Riot Games Flickr
Source: Riot Games Flickr

It’s a good start, but in many respects, the future of League of Legends eSports is as hazy as ever. The issue of the scenes stability, placed into the spotlight by Riot’s critics remains unclarified. Riot have outlined their ambition to work with sponsors and media advertisers in the future… but the concrete evidence to suggest that they’ve started working on this grand project is poignantly missing from the official statement:

“Nailing fandom and strong economics is important for a thriving sport – but stability, with partnered organizations and the right structure, helps create a healthier environment in which our sport can grow and evolve over the longer term.

“We’re not yet at the stage where we can describe exactly what long-term org partnerships will look like; we’re not sure how they’ll work, or even if there will be the same structure in each region.

“Creating long-term partnerships across the globe is complicated – legally, financially, operationally. That said, the first step is securing those partners and putting the right structure in place. We will be looking to make this step in 2018.”

Riot Games Official Announcement

Riot have evidently been caught out by the #ForeverLCS movement – without the pressure mounted on them spearheaded by TSM owner, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, they would never have taken this step. So whilst the changes to prizepools and funding are undoubtedly positive, it’s important not lose sight of the fact that team owners had to take this fight into the public domain in order to secure themselves what are considered incontrovertible rights for rival eSports titles.

Riot Games should receive a small pat on the back for listening to the community and making the necessary and appropriate changes, but they shouldn’t expect team owners to start popping the champagne until the plans for the stability of the scene are set in stone.