Giants Gaming, Unicorns of Love and Team ROCCAT will not participate in the European League Championship Series, making way for five new teams in the league in 2019, league sources told ESPN.
As the EU LCS moves to a franchise model with permanent partners, applications from Giants and Unicorns of Love were declined, while the future of Team ROCCAT remains uncertain. All three organizations could look to make partnerships with new organizations; currently, however, that prospect seems unlikely, according to sources.
Giants, Unicorns of Love and Team ROCCAT declined to comment. Riot Games did not respond to a request for comment.
Giants, Unicorns of Love and Team ROCCAT join Splyce and H2K Gaming as the five teams to be removed from the league in favor of new organizations. Each will be entitled to a significant exit payment that will stem from a pool filled with the additional 2.5 million euros ($2.87 million) paid by the new teams.
The news marks the end of the three veteran organizations' ownership of professional League of Legends teams. All three entered the space between 2012 to 2014 and have competed in the European League Championship Series in a number of stints since.
The EU LCS announced it would move to a franchise model after its North American sister league successfully did so in 2017. New buyers in North America included the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, owners of the Texas Rangers and venture capital firms affiliated with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In fall 2017, H2K Gaming and Unicorns of Love spoke out about flaws within the professional European League of Legends ecosystem that prevented teams from becoming profitable.
Following that, the league floated a number of solutions, including, at one point, a 24-team league that would see teams spread out across London, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, Spain. It ultimately chose to follow in the footsteps of the NA LCS, which featured revenue sharing and the removal of relegation.