A couple of months back, Riot Games officially announced that the North American League Championship Series (NA LCS) will be restructuring itself and creating multiple franchises for improved business opportunities in League of Legends.
The new competitive circuit will feature ten slots, with the buy-in set at $10 million each. This not only means that the minimum salary of players will get a nifty bump but also that teams will not longer have to worry about being relegated.
It sounds like great news for the competitive crowd in North America, except that the developer stated that it has no current plans to start franchising in Europe. There is always the possibility that other regions follow suit once the franchising model of North America has fully settled in. However, many professional League of Legends teams are not willing to wait.
According to a report by ESPN, anonymous sources close to the matter have confirmed that at least four teams from the European League Championship Series (EU LCS) have submitted applications to Riot Games to jump over to the North American division. This includes Fnatic, G2 Esports, Misfits, and Splyce; all of whom are currently rated in the top rankings.
The notion is obviously to be part of the new business model and increase revenue streams, but it does not speak well for all of the players involved. In the case that Riot Games does accept the submitted applications, the esports organizations will have to drop most of its players in order to pick up locals in North America. Some European talent may agree to travel abroad but not everyone will be willing to leave behind their friends and family.
This creates new obstacles for all three parties involves: Riot Games, the organizations, and the players. The developer must address the problem and if it confirms a region-locking rule, it could turn ugly. Business opportunities will always take precedence for the organizations, resulting in harsh decisions in the future. Finally, the players must make the brutal decision of uprooting themselves or find other teams to call home.
Riot Games has reportedly not responded to the applications as of yet. The League of Legends community has often called the developer out in the past over being biased between regions and favoring North America. While Riot Games has assured that this is not true, it must once again prove its neutrality.