North American__ League of Legends (LoL) pro players have voted for a walkout during the 2023 LCS Summer Split, something unheard of in esports history.

The vote for the walkout within the LCS Players Association (LCSPA) took place on Monday (May 29) to protest against changes made by Riot Games in the North American LoL Championship Series (LCS).

This is a ground-breaking event in the world of esports and the first time it has happened in the history of LoL esports.

To help you understand what's going on, here's a brief explanation and timeline of the events surrounding the LCSPA walkout.

Riot drops Challengers team requirement

On 7 May, a report by esports journalist LCS_Eevee said that all 10 LCS organisations had “voted against making North American Challengers League (NACL) mandatory for 2024”, adding that the same organisations pushed for the change to begin in the Summer 2023 split.

This was confirmed by Riot Games’ LCS announcement on some changes that were about to happen in the league on 12 May.

According to the announcement, organisations of the LCS have requested for Riot to remove the mandate to “field a team for the [NACL] beginning with Summer 2023. This request was made to “unlock more operational and financial flexibility.”

Riot has approved the request, stating that they “remain committed to evolving the NA talent development pipeline,” assuring everyone that the NACL will remain operational.

This resulted in all but three organisations dropping their Challengers roster, leaving a chunk of Challenger players’ careers in the air.

Only FlyQuest, Team Liquid, and Evil Geniuses opted to remain in the NACL, although this would be unsure beyond Season 2023.

Riot Games will introduce promotion and relegation systems to the competition as a result of LCS teams leaving the lower league. Teams that had to compete in external tournaments to have any chance of making the NACL will now face LCS Challengers teams that are already established in the league.

The release also announced that the league will be "more geographically accessible" by employing servers in Chicago rather than Los Angeles, where the professional teams are located. Riot will also financially support the league's teams by integrating Twitch subscription possibilities and broadcasting into the game.

The announcement hinted at the future of the league, with the biggest reveal being "cross-region competition for the Americas."

The statement did not confirm that Riot will host a tournament similar to the EU Masters, but it did add that the company is "excited to explore what cross-regional competition can look like in the Americas region."

LCSPA call out Riot on changes made

The LCSPA responded to Riot’s announcement on 19 May, calling out the LoL developers for prioritising the organisations over the career of players.

Riot Games' controversial decision to no longer require LCS teams to field a roster in the NACL prompted the walkout vote.

The statement also claimed that it is dishonest to portray the change as a method to provide organisations more financial freedom, given the average yearly pay cost for an NACL club is "less than 17 per cent" of the compensation expenses of an average LCS organisation.

In addition to proposing salary changes for NACL teams, allowing affiliate organisations to manage NACL rosters, introducing revenue-sharing opportunities for LCS teams, and implementing promotion/relegation and revenue sharing for outside organisations that invest in NACL, the association also detailed its proposals for Riot in 2024.

LCSPA passes walkout vote

On 29 May, the walkout vote was cast in the LCSPA — and “overwhelmingly passed”, according to the association’s announcement.

“This is not a decision LCS players have come to lightly,” the statement read. “Countless discussions and debates were had between all LCS players in the week leading to this historic vote.”

The LCSPA said that “our players want to play and compete above all else”, and yet choosing the put competition aside is “a testament to the significance and the urgency of the issues at hand.

This will most likely jeopardise the 2023 LCS Summer Split, which begins on Thursday (1 June). with the LCSPA keeping the walkout date a secret from everyone else to make a bigger impact.

The group also claims that the walkout can be avoided if Riot will avert the decision and would be open to discussing potential solutions for the LCS and NACL.

Riot suspends rank requirement and allows LCS teams to field amateurs

According to a stream from LoL interviewer Travis Gafford’s Hotline League on Wednesday morning (30 May), Riot Games has given the ten franchise teams permission to sign substitute players past the roster deadline to ensure the tournament goes ahead as planned as the LCS prepares for a potentially historic player walkout that could throw the league into disarray.

On top of this, the solo queue rank requirement has been lifted for the LCS, making way for players in NA of all skill levels.

For context, the 2023 LCS rule set has capped the minimum solo queue rank requirement to Diamond 1 or higher.

Gafford added that, at least for this weekend, participants don't have to be in Los Angeles to compete in the Riot Games Arena tournament.

LCSPA aware of the attempt to require teams to field “scab players”

Despite Riot’s announcement, the players association has said in a recent statement that the LCSPA is “aware for over a week of attempts to require teams to field scab players at the start of the season.”

The organisation has reached out to the players outside of the LCS to “not agree to play for any LCS org as a replacement player.”

They also said that the walkout is for the “benefit of all League players in North America.” Furthermore, they warned that “crossing the line” will jeopardise the entire league: the LCS, NACL & Amateur players alike.

They asked players who have agreed to a replacement contract to contact the LCSPA for further council.

The group also claims that the walkout can be avoided if Riot will avert the decision and would be open to discussing potential solutions for the LCS and NACL.

Riot delays LCS Summer Split for two weeks

In a recent update, Riot Games announced that it will delaythe LCS Summer Split by two weeks.

"While last week we immediately put in place contingency plans to begin the LCS season on Thursday, we ultimately decided that it would not hold true to our values that Riot’s esports offers our players and fans a showcase for the best competitive League of Legends," the statement read.

Riot added, "Nothing but putting the best players in North America on stage at Riot Games is acceptable."

During the two-week window, Riot plans to dialogue with all involved, which would include the teams, the LCSPA, and the entire league before resuming the LCS Summer Split.

On top of this, Riot also announced that they would be prepared to "cancel the LCS Summer Split" if a resolution is not made within the two-week window.

They said that beginning the Summer split any later would compromise the legitimacy of the competition.

In effect, this would eliminate the entire LCS from Worlds 2023. "That is not an outcome we’d want, but it’s, unfortunately, the reality of ensuring we run a fair, competitive global system," they added.

Riot responds to LCSPA demands

On top of delaying the LCS Summer split, they also responded to the five demands made by the LCSPA.

In terms of the demand to "Institute VALORANT- style promotion and relegation system between the LCS and the NACL," they said that this style would "round counter to the existing partnership model."

The existing model has 10 LCS teams paying US $10 million per slot. According to them, this would "dilute the LCS teams' equity and put considerable downward pressure on the amount of revenue" shared with the teams because more teams will be sharing with the revenue pool, and would be "not a good idea at this time."

Riot also denied the LCSPA's request to give "Guaranteed LCS contracts for winners", stating that these aren't necessary for a healthy developmental league.

"Players should rise to the LCS based on merit, potential, and team fit rather than an artificially forced mechanism," and Riot says that their focus would be to "increase flexibility and mobility of that movement."

In response to the request to "institute the 3/5 continuity rule," Riot maintains its stance that "ownership residing with organisations rather than players."

The request to "commit revenue pool for player salaries of $300,000 per NACL team, per year" was also denied, with Riot stating that it simply isn't sustainable and that other Tier 2 leagues in other regions "thrive on their own," and that they believe "the NACL can get to that place too."

Instead, Riot is giving a one-time payment of US$300,000 to the NACL during the transition period to support NACL teams.

The LCSPA also asked for Riot to "Allow LCS orgs to partner with affiliates for cost-sharing," to which Riot has said that they "already and will continue to allow" affiliate relationships to exist in LCS and NACL teams.

Timeline of Events (Singapore Time)

31 May - Riot Gamesdelays LCS Summer Split for two weeksand responds to LCSPA demands. The dev company said they're prepared to cancel the Summer Season altogether.

30 May –Riot Games drops solo queue rank requirements, opening the LCS to most players.

30 May– LCSPA said that they are aware of attempts to require teams to field scab players, and have talked to players outside the LCS not to agree to this.

29 May –The LCSPA confirmed that the walkout vote has passed with an overwhelming majority. They have urged Riot Games to engage in negotiations and prevent this unprecedented collective action.

25 May -Riot Games announces all the format changes made for the North America Challengers League,scaling down to 10 teams from 16. Both a revenue-sharing program based on Twitch channel subscriptions and a path to the NACL through open qualifiers have been announced.

24 May – Amidst the possibility of a player walkout, theLCSPA has outlined its demandsto Riot Games.

19 May –TheLCSPA has criticised Riot Games for the rationale behind the decisionto permit teams to release players from the Challengers roster.

13 May –Riot Games announces decision to allow organisations to drop Challengersteam requirement.

7 May –Initial reportson major changes affecting the NACL surfaced.

Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.

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2023-05-31T03:11:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd