North America’s League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) is scheduled to kick off on 1st June with the Summer Split. However, the starting of the split could be in trouble after the members of the LCS Players Association (LCSPA) voted for a walkout. This was after. Riot Games and League of Legends Esports (LoL Esports), on 13th May, issued an important update about the future of the North American Challengers League (NACL), which is essentially the tier-two scene or the developmental ground of the LCS.
Following this, the LCSPA raised concerns about this decision and issued a proposal to help the LCS and NACL in the years to come. However, soon after Riot’s announcement, a majority of the LCS teams announced that they would be dropping their NACL rosters.
Just ahead of the Summer Split, the LCSPA took a vote to walk out in protest of Riot Games’ actions and the association announced that the vote to walk out “overwhelmingly passed.”
LCS players vote for a walk out
The LCS Players Association hosted this historic voting on 28th May (Sunday) for a potential walkout on Riot Games and the LCS. The LCSPA released a statement on social media saying that the “walkout vote has overwhelmingly passed.” It noted that this decision was taken after countless discussions and debates between all LCS players.
LCSPA said, “One thing is clear from those conversations - our players want to play and compete above all else. Joining hands to put competition aside is a testament to the significance and urgency of the issues at hand.”
The Association added that it stands at this impasse because Riot Games acted without prior communication or discussion with the players. It also invited the publisher to have an open and transparent discussion with the players to avert the walkout.
The LCSPA outlined five measures to be met before players would consider a return to competition. They are as follows:
Institute a Valorant-style promotion and relegation between the LCS and NACL.
Riot commits to a revenue pool for player salaries of $300K USD per NACL team per year.
Allow LCS organizations to partner with affiliates for cost-sharing.
Riot guarantees LCS minimum contracts for the following year for the 5 players who win the LCS summer finals each year.
Institute a 3/5's roster continuity rule to provide players on released NACL rosters 1st priority in maintaining their slots in the upcoming NACL season if a majority continue to compete together.
LCS to take place on schedule?
Multiple reports, including The Game Haus’ Sander Hove, suggested that the LCS 2023 Summer Split will carry on as planned even if many of the LCS players decide to walk out of the split. Riot Games has reportedly granted permission to teams to rope in additional players even after locking in their rosters. Notably, the LCS teams are reportedly obligated to play in the split due to their contract with Riot Games.
On 29th May, the LCSPA followed up with a statement that confirmed the reports. It wrote, “The LCSPA has been aware for over a week of attempts to require teams to field scab players at the start of the season.”
It added that it continues to reach out to players outside of the LCS with a clear and straightforward message. The association asked these players to not play for any LCS organization as a replacement and reminded them of the importance of the walkout. It stated that crossing the line would jeopardize the future of all the LCS, NACL, and amateur players.
“Crossing the line undermines player negotiating power. If you have already agreed to a replacement contract, please contact the LCSPA for further council on how to navigate your situation,” it said.
It also hoped that players will stand in solidarity and that attempts to form scab rosters would fail. “To start the LCS season without interruption, there is only one solution: meet with the players and agree to a plan that everyone can support,” noted the LCSPA.
Report: Riot Games lifts Solo Queue requirements for LCS
League of Legends content creator Travis Gafford reported on 29th May that Riot Games has lifted the solo queue ranking requirement to participate in the LCS temporarily. According to the official LCS 2023 Rules, “All Players on the Full Team Roster (as that term is defined herein) must have held a peak solo queue ranking within the last year of Diamond 1 or above.”
Notably, the LCS 2023 Summer Split is scheduled to start on 1st June and according to reports, players will not be required to be present at the Riot Games Arena, in Los Angeles, and can play remotely.
The LCSPA was established by Riot Games in 2017 right before the league embarked upon its franchising model. Every LCS team is represented by a player in this association and the executive council comprises five people.
The Executive Council is as follows:
Executive President: Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya
Treasurer: Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in
Vice-Presidents: Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami, Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme, and Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura