‘No viewership, no support, no future’: LCS Players Association responds to Riot’s NACL plan

‘No viewership, no support, no future’: LCS Players Association responds to Riot’s NACL plan

Riot Games and the LCS gave League of Legends fans an update on the NACL, the North American developmental league that serves as a direct pipeline to the LCS, earlier today. While many changes were shared in the update, the most drastic takeaway from Riot’s plan is the fact that LCS organizations will no longer be required to field an NACL team by mandate. 

The LCS Players Association (LCSPA) responded to Riot with a statement of its own, staunchly opposing the league’s proposal and referring to it as a “hollow attempt” to appease LCS owners. Riot’s plan surrounding the NACL includes the moving of the league’s servers to Chicago, Illinois to promote a more national player base, as well as the re-introduction of a promotion/relegation system for the NACL. 

While those changes will have a positive effect on the league, the glaring removal of franchises’ necessary requirements to field a developmental roster is something that cannot be overlooked—especially in the eyes of the Players Association. The LCSPA predicts that with this mandate removed, “as many as 70 players, coaches, and managers will lose their jobs overnight.”

The LCSPA also claims there is no possible way that NACL rosters can be considered a root cause for a franchise’s financial instability. The average salary of an NACL roster represents less than 17 percent of an organization’s payouts, according to the LCSPA’s statement. 

In opposition to the league and its owners, the Players Association provided a four-point proposal of its own to counter the moves being made by the LCS. The PA’s plan included the following proposals (as written): 

  • Allow teams to pay NACL players based on local wage laws instead of California labor minimums.
  • Allow teams to partner with affiliate organizations to operate their NACL rosters and share costs
  • Introduce a robust in-game item program for LCS teams that mirrors the generous revenue-sharing program in VALORANT
  • Introduce meaningful incentives like promotion/relegation and revenue sharing for outside organizations to invest in NACL rosters. 
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff via Riot Games

“Europe has a thriving ERL system and the LCK and KPL maintain robust Challenger rosters and leagues,” the LCSPA said in its statement today. “By comparison, North America now has a developmental product with no viewership, no institutional support, no paying jobs, and no future.” 

This spring, conversations surrounding financial stability have been at the center of the LCS. Beyond mass layoffs and an eventual sale of CLG, rumors and reports circling around a potential sale of TSM also came to light in late March. While no other teams’ names came up in talks of any possible sales, cost-cutting measures would benefit every organization’s bottom line. If owners are able to scrape costs off the top by not having to pay a roster and staff on the developmental level, they’ll save money in the end. 

Eleven LCS Players Association members signed the proposal and urged LCS fans to help “reverse this short-sighted mistake,” including its president Darshan Upadhyaya and executive council members Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in and Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura. 

The 2023 NACL Summer Split is set to begin next month.

About the author

Michael Kelly

Staff Writer for Dot Esports covering League of Legends and World of Warcraft, among others. When he’s not writing about games, he’s desperately deciding which one from his library to finally get around to playing.

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