Earlier this week League of Legends Players voted “overwhelmingly” to go on strike against plans to make rule changes that would reduce the North American Challenger’s League – which was formed just last year – from 16 teams to seven.
The LCS Players Association, the body that represents the region’s professional players, says the plans will result in an estimated 70 people – players, coaches etc. – losing their jobs. Riot, meanwhile, says the cuts were necessary to ensure North American leagues remain “sustainable.” [and] economically justifiable”.
Tensions escalated a day later when it was revealed that pro teams had been actively looking to “field scab players,” a move the LCSPA rightly said would “endanger the future of all players” as “the Crossing the line undermines the bargaining power of the players”. .
The LCSPA met with Riot earlier this morning and not long after Riot released a lengthy statement on their website address the strike. It doesn’t take long to read to see that the company has decided to play hard.
A large part of the post is devoted to North American players stating that, hey, other regions can make their leagues profitable, why can’t you? The most poignant example is this sentence, in which Riot totally rejects the LCSPA’s demands that the company “commit to a player salary revenue pool of $300,000 per NACL team per year”:
It’s just not sustainable – and to be perfectly honest, it shouldn’t be necessary. We have other Tier 2 leagues around the world that are succeeding on their own and we believe the NACL can get there as well.
The harshest language, however, is reserved for Riot’s comments on the league’s upcoming game schedule, in which the company is essentially saying that if an agreement cannot be reached in the next two weeks, not only will the entire LCS summer season be canceled, but LCS as well teams will also not be able to qualify for the 2023 World Cup:
We hope that this two-week window will give us time for a productive dialogue between the LSCPA, the teams and the league, and then we can resume LCS competition this summer. The LCS will not penalize teams for not fielding their rosters during this two-week period to allow everyone to focus on constructive dialogue. We are doing our best to ensure that LCS employees, contractors and others who support LCS are not adversely impacted by the delay.
A delay beyond the two-week window would make it nearly impossible to run a legitimate competition, in which case we would be prepared to cancel the entire LCS summer season. If the LCS summer season is canceled, LCS teams qualifying for the 2023 World Championship will also be eliminated. I want to be clear: this is not an outcome that we want, but unfortunately it is the reality when it comes to ensuring a fair, competitive global system.
Crucially, despite the length of the post and the number of points it raises, Riot never once commented on the possibility of teams using “scab” players. The LCSPA has not yet made any comments of its own after the meeting; We have contacted them but have not received a response at the time of publication.