Riot Games published a response to the walkout vote done by the LCS Player Association earlier this week.

The 2023 LCS Summer Season is Delayed

Naz Aletaha, Global Head of LoL Esports, responded to the weeks-long issue between the developer-publisher and the LCS Players Association. Breiuc Seeger, also known as “LEC Wooloo,” has a comprehensive recap thread of everything that happened prior to Riot's response.

Moving on to Aletaha's response, she shared her thoughts regarding the walkout and the scheduling decisions that were made in turn.

“A top priority for us always is the fans. While last week we immediately put in place contingency plans to begin the LCS season on Thursday, we ultimately decided that it would not hold true to our values that Riot’s esports offers our players and fans a showcase for the best competitive League of Legends,” read the article. ” Nothing but putting the best players in North America on the stage at Riot Games Arena is acceptable. So we informed LCSPA leadership today that we will delay the LCS season for the next two weeks.”

Aletaha said that they hope this two-week window will be used for productive dialogue between all of the parties, and then resume the regular season. Riot Games will also not be applying penalties to teams who will not field their rosters during the two-week period.

However, if talks do not become conclusive and the season gets delayed further, it would “make it nearly impossible to run a legitimate competition, and we would be prepared to cancel the entire LCS summer season,” said Aletaha. “If the LCS summer season is canceled, this will also eliminate LCS teams qualifying for 2023 Worlds. I want to be clear: That is not an outcome we’d want, but it’s unfortunately the reality of ensuring we run a fair, competitive global system.”

Riot's Support to the LCS and the development system

“The LCS has always been a flagship league for LoL Esports and we care deeply about it. We know that everyone in the ecosystem, from the players to the teams to Riot to everyone behind the scenes making each week possible and so many others, all share the same goals for the LCS. We need an LCS that is thrilling to watch and showcases the highest levels of League of Legends play.”

Apart from reiterating Riot's “belief” in the LCS, Aletaha also commented on the teams' needs for economic sustainability – one of the facets they used to justify the action that began this massive domino effect – and how they have been working towards meeting said needs.

Riot has also provided $300,000 to “jump-start” the 2023 NACL season next week as a testament to their support for the Tier 2 developmental league.

Riot's Response to the LCS Players Association's Demands

Aletaha also laid out responses for each of the LCSPA's asks of them.

Institute VALORANT style promotion and relegation between LCS and NACL.

  • Expanding the league in order to implement a VALORANT-style visitor slot system would run counter to our existing partnership model with the 10 LCS teams who paid ~$10M per slot to compete in the league. It would dilute LCS teams’ equity and put considerable downward pressure on the amount of revenue (our “League Revenue Pool”) that we share with the teams. More teams in the pool would dilute the revenues that we share 50% with our teams under the partnership model. Given the challenging macroeconomic climate, expanding the league is not a good idea at this time.

Riot guarantees LCS minimum contracts for the following year
for five players who win NACL Summer Finals.

  • Guaranteed LCS contracts for winners aren’t a necessary component of a healthy developmental league. LCS teams are in the best position to decide who should get a shot. We will continue to discuss initiatives to connect LCS to NACL players like we have in place with Scouting Grounds. Players should rise to the LCS based on merit, potential, and team fit rather than an artificially forced mechanism, and our focus will be on finding ways to increase the flexibility and mobility of that movement rather than forcing it.

Institute a 3/5 continuity rule to provide players on released NACL rosters first priority in maintaining their slots in the upcoming NACL season if a majority continue to compete together.

  • Teams provide greater continuity and structure, and therefore we will continue with our policy of slot ownership residing with organizations rather than players.

Riot commit to a revenue pool for player salaries of $300,000 per NACL team, per year.

  • This ask is for multiple millions in subsidies for the NACL. That simply isn’t sustainable – and to be brutally honest, it shouldn’t be necessary. We have other Tier 2 leagues around the world which thrive on their own, and we believe the NACL can get to that place too.
  • What we will do is help the North American scene through this transition. So, as I mentioned above, we will be investing in a bridge period by providing a special, one-time payment of $300,000 to the NACL’s Tournament Operator (Rally Cry) to support NACL teams during the transition to the new structure.

Allow LCS orgs to partner with affiliates for cost-sharing.

  • We’ve seen examples of partnerships between pro teams and Tier 2 teams across the globe result in greater upward mobility of pros and more sustainable Tier 2 ecosystems. That is why we already, and will continue to, allow affiliate relationships to exist between teams in LCS and NACL (for example, Golden Guardians & Area of Effect).