The franchise applications of Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid and Cloud9 for the North American League of Legends Championship Series have been accepted, league sources told ESPN. Riot notified the teams throughout last week in individual calls with each franchise ownership, sources said.
Each team will pay $10 million in franchising fees over the the next few years, with $5 million due before the start of the 2018 season.
The four teams are some of the largest names in professional esports. Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid (formerly Team Curse) are founding organizations from when the league was started in 2013. Cloud9 joined the league less than six months later.
Team SoloMid is the only organization among the four to not take outside investment within the last 18 months. That team will run an investment round for a minority stake in their corporation in the coming months, sources said.
Cloud9 has done a total of $28 million in fundraising across seed and series A rounds in 2017; the Madison Square Garden company acquired the majority stake of Counter Logic Gaming in July; and Team Liquid sold the majority of its company to group aXiomatic in 2016.
Riot Games announced a restructuring to its league back in September of 2016. Those changes included permanent, franchise partnership, an academy league, a players' association and revenue sharing options for teams and players.
Team Dignitas, Phoenix1 and Team Envy, all particpants in the NA LCS in 2017, have been reportedly declined from entering the league in 2018, sources told ESPN. Two new groups, OpTic Gaming and Golden State Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob, have been accepted into the league, sources said.
Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, Cloud9 and Counter Logic Gaming declined to comment. Riot Games did not respond to a request for comment.
Disney, the parent company of ESPN, is an investor in aXiomatic.