Riot Games postpones LCS following player walkout vote

LCS team Cloud9 at MSI 2023
Image credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

Game publisher Riot Games has announced it will postpone the start of the 2023 LCS Summer Split by two weeks.

This news follows a week full of monumental developments within League of Legends as the competition’s players association, the LCSPA, overwhelmingly voted in favour of a player walkout on Sunday night.

ESI Lisbon 2024

Protests by players and fans were provoked when Riot Games announced it was changing the NACL mandate, which now allows LCS organisations to opt out of the previously-compulsory North American tier-two competition.

Since then, seven out of the ten LCS organisations have dropped their academy division in the name of cost-cutting, including Cloud9, who were crowned NACL Spring split champions.

In a new public post made by Naz Aletaha, the Global Head of League of Legends esports, she reassured fans of Riot Games’ commitment to the LCS. “We [Riot] support players. We [Riot] also support teams. And we [Riot] believe more than ever in the LCS,” she stated.

However, Aletaha’s statement also threatened to cancel the entire Summer split if an agreement was not reached between the players, organisations and the league past this two-week delay. This would also compromise North America’s three slots in Worlds, the title’s flagship international tournament.

The statement read: “Delaying beyond the two-week window would make it nearly impossible to run a legitimate competition, and in that case, we would be prepared to cancel the entire LCS summer season. Carrying this forward, if the LCS summer season is cancelled, this will also eliminate LCS teams qualifying for 2023 Worlds.

“I want to be clear: That is not an outcome we’d want, but it’s unfortunately the reality of ensuring we run a fair, competitive global system.”

Aletaha also addressed the five demands made by the LCSPA, which included ‘VALORANT style’ promotion/relegation between NACL and the LCS; guaranteed one-year LCS minimum contracts for LCS split victors; instituting a 3/5 continuity rule to provide players on released NACL rosters first priority for slots in the upcoming NACL season; a $300,000 (~£240,000) commitment to revenue pool for player salaries per NACL team, per year; and allowing organisations to partner with affiliates.

The first three demands have been rejected by Riot Games, with the statement also reading that Riot Games already allows affiliate relationships within the LCS and NACL, using Golden Guardians and Area of Effect as an example.

In response to the penultimate demand, Riot will instead make a special, one-time payment of $300,000 to Rally Cry, the NACL’s tournament operator, to support NACL teams during the transition to the new structure of the Challengers League.

The LCSPA has since made a statement stating that the “the future of the NACL and the LCS is too big to decide overnight” and has requested daily meetings with Riot, if needed, to reach a resolution within the two-week period. 

Hisham Almadani, Journalist
Hisham joined Esports Insider in November of 2022. As a first-year student at the University of Detroit Mercy, he hopes to take his career into games journalism. When he isn't writing, he's probably reading.