<
>

Sources: Riot accepts final EU LCS applications

play
League worlds through the years (5:54)

While League of Legends is one of the most popular esports today, the game had humble beginnings. Riot shoutcasters Riv, Phreak and Jatt reflect on how far the game has come since Season 1 in 2011. (5:54)

Riot Games has accepted applications from Movistar Riders, North, Rogue and SK Gaming as permanent partners for its European League of Legends Championship Series, league sources told ESPN.

Those four join five existing teams whose applications were approved: Fnatic, G2 Esports, Misfits, Schalke 04 Esports and Team Vitality, as reported by ESPN on Oct. 2. The fifth new team, and sixth overall in the league, will be owned by Astralis and its parent company, RFRSH Entertainment.

Rogue declined to comment Saturday. Movistar Riders, North, SK Gaming and Riot Games did not respond to requests for comment.

Those 10 teams' applications have been approved, but their official entries into the league are pending as Riot Games and the teams have had setbacks in the negotiations around team participation agreements, sources said. While it is unlikely, Riot Games could tap some of its alternate teams from its franchise application process if those negotiations fall through, according to sources.

These holdups might push back an official announcement from Riot Games, which is scheduled for Thursday.

Each of the teams in the new European League Championship Series has previously operated businesses in esports, many in high-level competitive League of Legends. Astralis, North and Rogue have not held teams in League of Legends before, although several of their staff members have worked in League of Legends. Rogue CEO Frank Villarreal and GM Sean "Hadaka" Mulryan served as staff at Enemy, a former North American League Championship Series team. Astralis co-founder and RFRSH executive vice president Jakob Lund Kristensen is the former CEO of Copenhagen Wolves, which had multiple stints in the European League Championship Series.

Ahead of their approval for EU LCS franchises, Rogue's parent company, ReKTGlobal, and SK Gaming began a search for new investors. Current investors in Rogue and ReKT include Steve Aoki, Sterling Select and Imagine Dragons, the band that recorded the 2014 League of Legends World Championship theme song, "Warriors."

This summer, SK Gaming struck a sponsorship deal with Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, with the reported option of that becoming an investment if the team entered the EU LCS. Movistar Riders is the esports arm of Movistar, the Spanish telecommunications brand owned by Telefónica. North is an esports team owned by soccer team F.C. Copenhagen.

The accepted bids conclude an EU LCS application process that kicked off in March, when Riot Games announced it would be reformatting the league as it did with its North American sister league in late 2017. Applications for the league were due July 1 and were followed by a number of reviews and interviews with prospective teams from July to September.