League of Legends Franchising Starts with China This Summer Split
China will be the first to remove the relegation system and move towards League of Legends franchising with the start of the Summer Split this year.
Chinese esports publication Wanplus was the first report the announcement last night, followed by first-party official channels of the region. According to provided details, teams that qualified for the Summer Split will be guaranteed spots in the new format. Next year, the League of Legends franchising model of China will be expanded to cater fourteen teams. A year after, it hopes to include at least twenty.
— Bohan(Tale) Wu (@Bryan_Tale_Wu) April 30, 2017
In addition, the Pro League of China will see a city-based system in the future that comprises Home and Away games. This will initiate with three to five cities next year, but will be expanded to include more.
While Riot Games is yet to reveal details regarding revenue generation, it is likely to follow the business model of the Overwatch League.
Last week, anonymous sources close to the matter revealed that the North American League Championship Series (NA LCS) would implement the League of Legends franchising setup by abolishing the current relegation system with the start of the next season in 2018. None of the current teams are guaranteed to retain their spots once the new format goes underway. Instead, owners and organizations will have to be approved by Riot Games through an application process.
North American team owners have for long been calling for better revenue sharing and generating opportunities. League of Legends franchising is supposed to be the answer to that. Currently, the fear of being relegated means that most teams are part of the professional circuit on a temporary basis. With teams featuring permanent spots in the league, owners will have a better time with building long-term partnerships with investors and advertisers.
Riot Games in the west should be making an official announcement about its own franchising plans soon.