Going into the 2024 season, the LCS will become an eight-team league, as confirmed by Riot Games’ President of Esports, John Needham.
In an interview with Travis Gafford, Needham explained that Golden Guardians’ owners, the Golden State Warriors, decided to focus on basketball while Evil Geniuses’ ‘struggles‘ in the last year were the reasons behind their exit.
Needham clarified that the partnership agreement termination offer was given to all LCS organisations within the league, but the other eight organisations chose to stay and have “reaffirmed their commitment.”
The announcement came one day before the start of the free agency period on November 20th. The players and staff members from these two organisations will now have to hope to find a new team. However, given the amount of verbal agreements already in place, the stranded parties will now find themselves without a destination for 2024.
Needham, however, stated in the interview that it was impossible to share the news earlier: “We became aware of some issues a couple of weeks ago and we rallied the teams during Worlds to try to help the teams and the players out, so there was really no opportunity to do this earlier”.
He also added that while Riot Games is looking at a number of different options for the LCS, there isn’t enough time to fill out the two vacant spots, which is why the league will continue with eight teams.
The LCS has undergone a rough 2023 season, with viewership numbers going down and a major player walkout following changes to the North American Challengers League (NACL) before the start of the Summer Split.
Following the exit announcements, the LCS Players Association (LCSPA) also published a statement on X, calling Riot to ‘balance the loss of opportunity with improvements to LCS and NACL in 2024’ and that the two parties will be working on a ‘structure to give players a seat during the decision-making process for long-term plans’.