Starting with the 2018 Spring Split, there will be no more relegation in the EU LCS, Riot Games announced yesterday. With the North American LCS already taking advantage of the benefits of the new system, the EU organizations and some fans who weren’t worried about declining competitiveness were clamoring for the change for a long time now.
According to the announcement, the system in Europe will work very similarly to what happened in the NA LCS. Interested organizations will have some time to apply for ownership in the franchised league, their suitably for long-term partnership will be evaluated by Riot and a final list of new EU LCS will be announced sometime after the World Championships.
At that point, the teams will have to reportedly pay up to €10 million for the permanent spot in the league, which is actually more than the NA orgs paid for the same. If this figure turned out to be true, it would be quite… puzzling because there’s way less money to be made and investors to attract in Europe than there are in North America.
To make it worse, the EU LCS has been playing second fiddle in terms of popularity as well, mostly due to the inferior branding of the already existing teams compared to their NA counterparts, with some notable exceptions like Fnatic and G2 Esports.
Of course, with franchising also comes revenue sharing between the league, the teams, and the players. According to the plan outlined in their official announcement, 35% of the league’s revenue will go to the players, 32,5% will find its way to the teams and 32,5% more will go to Riot Games to help cover the substantial costs of actually running the League.
For years now, the EU LCS has been a… “feeding league” of sorts for the far richer NA LCS. The problem became even more apparent before the 2018 Spring Split, when the newly franchised NA LCS teams went to town like its Black Friday on the EU LCS stars, ripping apart many of the strongest EU teams and changing the landscape of the region.
With franchising, the EU LCS should finally be able to at least try competing with NA in the wage department, hopefully being able to keep its superior talent from moving to NA. Of course, the rumored price tag for joining the league might actually discourage a lot of existing EU LCS teams and possible investors from joining up. After all, the “nothing ventured, nothing gained” mentality isn’t as prominent in Europe as it is in the United States of America.
Finally, for the ones who are worried about permanent spots in the league taking away some of the competitiveness… A new team, Clutch Gaming, has just won the NA LCS Quarterfinals, knocking out Team SoloMid. Riot is also taking steps to prevent complacency. If teams gain a spot in the League, they can be removed after three years of consistently bad results.
All in all, this is definitely a step in the right direction. The EU LCS needed this like astronauts need oxygen tanks. Without it, the paygap between the EU and NA LCS would have grown even more, Europe would have bled players to NA year after year. Now, EU might have a chance of holding on to its stars, making for a more competitive league and interesting matches at the World Championship when NA teams play their EU opponents. Of course, the Koreans will come after that and win the whole thing but that is a different matter altogether.