Steve Arhancet is the Co-CEO of Team Liquid. He spoke to us about his thoughts on Riot’s recent announcement regarding the franchising for the NA LCS slots, how Team Liquid are in the process of securing one, Jeff Vinik joining the Liquid board and more.
Esports Insider: Do you see the franchising of slots in major competitions such as the NA LCS as important for the continued growth of the esports industry as a whole? What other options are there to ensure financial stability and opportunity?
Steve Arhancet: I think franchising will allow growth in the ecosystem, although understand some fans are on edge about what franchising means for the LCS, and the wider ecosystem.
In terms of the LCS – Riot is going through a thorough process to create the league and from what I know of the franchise model they’ve put forward, it looks like it could be great for League of Legends, creating more security for players, teams, analysts, coaches and those brands and other companies investing in the space. For example, each team will need to have an academy of a 10 man team, not including subs. This will create deeper roots, a large training ground, and more opportunities.
“It looks like it could be great for League of Legends, creating more security for players, teams, analysts, coaches and those brands and other companies investing in the space”
For fans, I think this security will mean they can commit to a team more fully, and they will have an exciting, compelling competition to watch.
ESI: How many of the current ten NA LCS teams do you think will pay the piper and confirm their slots going forward?
Steve: I can’t speak to how many other teams will be looking to participate, but personally, I believe that what you’re getting for a franchise is at a very fair price point which, I expect, means that Riot will receive many endemic and non-endemic applications.
“I believe that what you’re getting for a franchise is at a very fair price point”
Team Liquid has deep roots in the esports community and ecosystem, and personally, my history is with League of Legends too. We are in the process of applying and if our application is accepted, we’ll be thrilled to be part of the new franchised league as I think it has great potential.
ESI: Some have highlighted that this is a cruel blow to endemic teams who’ve been in the scene for years but will not have the capital required to secure their place. Moreover, does it run the risk of damaging LoL by pushing start up orgs (and those with less financial clout) into other titles? Thoughts?
Steve: The process Riot is taking for a franchised league in 2018, I think is a massive opportunity for endemic and new organisations alike.
“I think of this as the business side catching up with the passion, and we’re going to see cool developments that parallel with other sports”
The revenue sharing aims that Riot has set out also make the price point fair, if not low, in my opinion. I understand that the requirement of any capital up front is a challenge and a real consideration for any endemic team in this ‘new world’ of esports, but ultimately, given the success of the game, we need a sustainable ecosystem around the LCS – for players, teams, coaches, analysts, support staff, shoutcasters and everyone else involved, as in the current model, the league is the main entity reaping rewards from the esports’ success.
I think of this as the business side catching up with the passion, and we’re going to see cool developments that parallel with other sports.
ESI: What do you make of the revenue share opportunity? And does the consistent lack of relegation mean that any one season loses a certain spark of excitement?
Steve: The terms Riot has set out, present good revenue sharing opportunities and I hope will take the game from strength to strength.
“It was a happy coincidence that aXiomatic, the esports investment group that invested in Team Liquid last year, was also recently joined by Jeff Vinik – who is linked to Liverpool Football Club”
The concept of a franchise, is to grow the overall health of the entirety of the NA LCS system, where teams are more competitive with each other. Teams will be able to make further investments into their teams and as part of those investments having a Academy team will help promote player growth and development; curbing the thought that the removal of relegation may hurt viewership.
ESI: Liquid recently signed their first FIFA pro (a Liverpool fan) and a new senior member (formerly of Liverpool FC’s board) joined the team’s backers; aXiomatic. Coincidence?
Steve: Yes we recently announced our entry into FIFA, with Lasse “Kongen” Baekkelund joining Team Liquid’s ranks!
It was a happy coincidence that aXiomatic, the esports investment group that invested in Team Liquid last year, was also recently joined by Jeff Vinik – who is linked to Liverpool Football Club. He’s joined aXiomatic as co-executive chairman, alongside Peter Guber and Ted Leonsis. Lasse for one was very excited!