In response to rumors circulating about several organizations intending to withdraw from the North American Challengers League, the LCS has officially announced significant modifications to the developmental competition.
Evolution of the Challengers League Since its inception as the primary feeder league for the LCS, the Challengers League has undergone numerous transformations. In the pre-franchising era, teams competed in Challengers with the hope of earning a spot in the LCS through a promotion tournament.
Following the introduction of franchising, the league transitioned into a developmental platform, enabling LCS teams to scout and nurture emerging talent while offering competitive salaries. Eventually, Riot Games permitted non-franchised amateur teams and collegiate squads to participate alongside LCS Challengers teams in third-party competitions, fostering a truly amateur league experience.
LCS implements major changes in response to organizational withdrawal speculations
No Mandatory Challengers League Rosters for LCS Teams
According to a report on May 6, LCS organizations voted to remove the rule requiring teams to field NA Challengers League rosters. In response to this request from the teams, the LCS confirmed that the rule will be abolished starting in the Summer Split.
The motive behind this change is to provide LCS teams with greater operational and financial flexibility within the North American League of Legends competition.
Commitment to North American Talent Development
While LCS organizations are departing from the second-tier league, Riot Games plans to implement promotion and relegation systems within the competition. Previously, teams had to participate in other tournaments to secure a spot in the NACL, where LCS Challengers teams awaited their arrival. With the upcoming changes, all teams will compete on an equal playing field.
Furthermore, Riot Games aims to enhance the league’s accessibility by utilizing game servers in Chicago, making it more geographically inclusive compared to the Los Angeles servers predominantly used by pro teams stationed in California. Financial support will also be provided to teams in the league through Twitch subscription opportunities and broadcast integrations.
A Glimpse of Cross-Region Competition for the Americas
Among the announcements, one particularly intriguing revelation pertains to the possibility of “cross-region competition for the Americas.” In contrast to the EMEA regional leagues, the North and South American second-tier systems have not previously interacted or participated in joint tournaments.
Although no specific details were disclosed, Riot expressed enthusiasm about exploring the potential for cross-regional competition within the Americas region.
Following Riot’s announcement, the LCS Players Association released a statement expressing the players’ dissatisfaction with the decision.
The association criticized Riot for backtracking on their claim of building the future of sports globally, stating that the abandonment of the North American future is evident. Additionally, they revealed that Riot assured players just one week ago that no changes would be made to the Challengers League.
The statement further challenged Riot’s justification of enhancing financial flexibility for organizations, arguing that the average annual salary cost for an NACL team accounts for less than 17% of an average LCS organization’s League of Legends-based salary expenses.
Furthermore, the association outlined its proposals for Riot in 2024, which include revising payment structures for NACL teams, granting affiliate organizations the ability to operate NACL rosters, introducing revenue sharing opportunities for LCS teams, and implementing promotion/relegation systems and revenue sharing for external organizations investing in the NACL.
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