The LCS Players Association (LCSPA) has reportedly asked its members to vote on a walkout in protest of changes happening to the NACL, the second-tier of League of Legends esports in North America.
According to a report by journalist Mikhail Klimentov, the vote is to be made this Sunday. The backlash is a result of Riot Games’ changes to the NACL, with professional teams no longer being obligated to field an academy roster in the league next split.
The NACL — and its previous interactions such as the Challenger Series and Academy League — has typically been used as a talent pipeline for the LCS. For the NACL all LCS teams fielded academy rosters in the league.
However, due to the recent changes in the rules, many of the teams have decided to abandon their NACL rosters. Out of the 10 LCS organisations, only Team Liquid, FlyQuest and Evil Geniuses have opted to maintain an academy roster.
This ultimately meant that a large number of players have been left without an organisation, and the LCSPA expressed its dissatisfaction in a public letter shared on May 12th. The organisation noted that a large number of current LCS players have joined the League through academy rosters, and that abandoning this system is “abandoning the future of esports in North America”.
Following Klimentov’s report yesterday, the LCSPA has provided a list of five demands for Riot Games to further ensure the development of the North American League of Legends scene. The demands are:
- To institute a VALORANT-like promotion and relegation system for the LCS, similar to the VALORANT Ascension tournaments.
- For Riot to commit to a set wage pool for NACL players per season,
- To allow for LCS organisations to partner with affiliates,
- To guarantee next season LCS minimum contracts for the five players that win the LCS Summer finals,
- To institute a roster continuity rule.
The fact that the LCSPA wants to include a promotion and relegation system in the LCS shows the strain that the relationship is undergoing. Unlike VALORANT which operates through a partner team programme, LCS slots are closed off via franchising, so franchise slot owners likely have little incentive to switch to this system.
This isn’t the first time that a League of Legends ecosystem has opted against the use of academy rosters. In fact, as of 2022 it was no longer an obligation for LEC teams to field a secondary roster in the European Regional Leagues.
However, unlike the North American scene, Europe’s second tier has more opportunities for players due to its expansive ecosystem across multiple countries.