Ahead of the impending franchising of the League Championship Series in the fall, Riot Games announced Thursday their plans for the transition into the system. With the details announced, there is a lot to digest, many questions that come to mind, and even more discussion to be had.
The ESPN Esports Podcast sat down with Evolved Talent Agency CEO and player agent Ryan Morrison, Catalyst Sports & Media executive vice president of esports Avi Bhuiyan, and Phoenix1 principal owner and former Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore to discuss what was going on. Listen to the podcast, but here are the three big takeaways from the discussion.
Good idea, right time
The League Championship Series franchise system was outlined last year, but has been on the esports radar for a while. However, despite it being on the table for discussion between Riot Games, owners, and other parties since 2015, now is the right time to do so.
The owners who are participating in the league currently demonstrate a basic level of business competence, fitting enough to all have a chance to participate in the franchised version of the league. Previously, in the last two years, teams such as Team Impulse and Winterfox, have shown negligence towards their players, meaning involving some of the past teams in the league would not have been the best of ideas.
Additionally, the terms of the system, including the $10 million buy-in, the 32.5 percent revenue sharing to teams and the 35 percent to players seem fair across the panel. It's significantly more favorable than say the Overwatch League's mock terms, which are reported to be a $20 million buy-in, no revenue sharing for a number of years, and a percentage fee on a future sale of a team.
Inclusion of endemics and comparisons to OWL
Riot Games has been extremely forthcoming to the endemic teams about the franchise system, said Moore. The teams are actively going to be involved in the application process and many expect to see themselves a part of this franchise system.
For this motion, Riot Games deserves respect, as Blizzard with the Overwatch League has mostly priced out the endemics. The comparisons between the two are endless, particularly given the timing of them both (in the same year) and the teams involved or wanting to be involved in both.
It's a good step to expand on its previous success, rather than to try something completely new.
Players association, conflict of interest, and lack of motivation
The reason a player association has not occurred before now is due to many players being uninterested in making the effort to create one, but also not be willing to fund one with their own profits. Many discussions have occurred about it, particularly heavy in other games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But it's all talk, no game.
While Riot's idea of jumpstarting a players association is not malicious, it does present conflicts of interest. Morrison discusses these conflicts, as someone solely involved with players themselves, and also some of the big issues that Riot will need to tackle in moving forward with this idea. Bhuiyan and Morrison debate on some of the nuances of the issue.