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What Happens After The LCS Walkout?

What Happens After The LCS Walkout?

Written byTHP

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With the LCS walkout behind us, we look at the events that lead to the disagreement, what came out of it, and what the situation is right now. For Thunderpick players, we also outline what would happen to outstanding wagers, if the tournament is canceled. But first, let’s go through the timeline that lead to all this.

TL;DR: LCS-LCSPA Walkout Drama Timeline

  • May 12: Riot Games announces its commitment to the NACL but lifts the requirement for LCS teams to field an NACL team. This action triggers multiple esports organizations to retire their NACL rosters as a result.
  • May 23: LCSPA voices concerns about the potential job losses due to Riot’s decision and presents a list of demands, threatening a player walkout.
  • May 29: The LCSPA votes overwhelmingly in favor of a walkout but invites Riot Games for an open discussion.
  • May 29: Travis Gafford reports that Riot Games plans to suspend the rank requirements for LCS eligibility, potentially allowing for “scab” players to be fielded.
  • May 29: LCSPA lobbies players not to cross the picket line and play as replacements.
  • May 31: Naz Aletaha, Riot’s Global Head of LoL Esports, responds to LCSPA’s demands. Aletaha expresses concerns about the league’s economic sustainability and the potential destabilization of the LCS’s partnership model. Riot Games announces a two-week delay for the 2023 LCS Summer Season and threatens cancellation if an agreement is not reached.
  • May 31: LCSPA expresses gratitude for the LCS community’s support and optimism about the ongoing negotiations. They announce plans for daily discussions with Riot Games to resolve.
  • June 2: Mikhail Klimentov reports that “LCSPA-Riot conversations are moving forward” but adds that the LCSPA will make no further public comment to not “disrupt [Riot] with further media” at this time.

Following a rebuttal between developer-publisher Riot Games and the League Championship Series (LCS) Player Association (LCSPA), it seems as though the future of League of Legends (LoL) esports teeters on the brink.

At the heart of the crisis is a new mandate over the North American Challenger League (NACL), which the LCSPA saw as a betrayal by Riot of its developmental league. As a result, a walkout vote ensued, which catapulted tensions between the parties to the forefront of esports news and discussions.

As negotiations between Riot Games, the LCSPA, and other stakeholders continue, the future of one of the flagship leagues of LoL Esports hangs in the balance. It has also left many LoL enthusiasts wondering: What happens after the LCS walkout?

Here’s everything you need to know about this unfolding saga.

The Situation: What Has Happened So Far?

The controversy started on May 12, with a statement issued by Riot Games regarding a “commitment to the NACL,” its developmental league. Specifically, Riot announced it would no longer require LCS teams to field a team in the NACL, citing that the mandate would “unlock more operational and financial flexibility.”

However, despite framing the decision as “to support the continued, long-term success of the teams,” the contrary seemed true when multiple elite-level esports organizations retired their NACL rosters. Among the clubs were Cloud9, TSM, NRG, and 100 Thieves.

LCSPA Response

Within hours of the announcement, the LCSPA responded on Twitter, arguing that the rule change could see “as many as 70 players, coaches, and managers” losing their jobs overnight.

“The unprecedented decision to destroy the NACL less than a month before the start of the 2023 NACL Summer Split with no plan – and no warning – is a stain on their leadership,” the LCSPA said. On May 23, the LCSPA appealed to Riot again on Twitter with a list of demands to continue the negotiation process.

These demands included a “VALORANT style” promotion and relegation between the LCS and NACL, minimum contract guarantees for winning teams, and a revenue commitment of $300,000 per NACL team annually. In addition, Riot allowed LCS organizations to partner with affiliates for cost-sharing and introduced a roster continuity rule.

Negotiations Stalled

Negotiations have not progressed any further in a favorable direction for either side. As a result, the LCSPA retaliated with an “overwhelming” vote to walk out via Twitter on May 29. But they invited Riot Games “to have [an] open and transparent discussion” in the subsequent days to avert the walkout.

At the same time, LCS and LoL interviewer Travis Gafford said “multiple sources” indicated that Riot Games would suspend the rank requirements for professional players to be eligible for the LCS. This would enable players with any rank to compete from anywhere in the world (even remotely).

This change raised concerns because it could allow teams to employ temporary replacement players (or “scab” players) during the walkout. On May 29, LCSPA lobbied players on Twitter, urging them not to cross the picket line and play as replacements. The group maintained that this could put all players’ futures at risk.

Riot’s Response: What Happens If A Deal Doesn’t Occur?

In response to the LCSPA’s demands on May 30, Riot’s Global Head of LoL Esports, Naz Aletaha, noted that the requests could destabilize the league’s economic sustainability.

Specifically, the LCS’s partnership model would face significant dilution if a VALORANT-style promotion and relegation system were introduced. Moreover, a demand for multiple millions in subsidies for the NACL is “not sustainable,” according to Aletaha.

Having dismissed many requests, Aletaha added that Riot would delay the 2023 LCS Summer Season by two weeks to enable a “productive dialogue between the LCSPA, teams, and the league.” At the same time, she also threatened to “cancel the entire LCS Summer Season” if an agreement was not reached in time.

While Aletaha’s response may seem firm, she stressed that Riot’s primary focus is the players and teams.

“Carrying this forward, if the LCS summer season is canceled, this will also eliminate LCS teams qualifying for 2023 Worlds […] That is not an outcome we’d want, but it’s, unfortunately, the reality of ensuring we run a fair, competitive global system,” Aletaha said.

LCSPA Follow-up Statement

In a follow-up statement released to Twitter on May 31, 2023, the LCSPA said the following:

“Tonight, one thing is back in clear focus: players are the LCS. Without players, there is no league, and there is no esports. From day one, exclusion from the decision-making process drove the LCSPA players to vote to walk out. The future of the NCAL and the LCS is too big to decide overnight and without player consideration.”

The LCSPA also thanked the LCS community for their support and expressed optimism about the ongoing negotiations. “Starting tomorrow, we plan to begin discussions that result in meaningful collaborative action to get our players back where they want to be: competing for fans on the LCS stage,” the statement read.

The LCSPA concluded by expressing hope that the daily meetings with Riot would lead to a resolution that suits all parties.

Current Standings: Where Are Things Headed?

The standoff between Riot and the LCSPA underscores the complexity of negotiations and the challenges inherent in finding a balance that caters to all stakeholders. As a result, the fate of the 2023 LCS Summer Season is largely unknown, though there is a glimmer of hope.

According to Washington Post editor Mikhail Klimentov on June 2, a private conversation disclosed to Twitter with Phil Aram, executive director for the North American LCSPA and former Evil Geniuses Chief Gaming Officer, revealed that discussions with Riot Games are “moving forward.” 

In a text message to Klimentov, Aram said, “[The LCSPA] are in productive conversations with Riot at this time and do not want to disrupt them with further media for the moment.” As a result, the coming days will undoubtedly be crucial, with continued negotiations possibly paving the way for a resolution or pushing the LCS into uncharted waters.

The conclusion of this dispute will undoubtedly set a precedent for future esports negotiations. We will update this page with any further developments as we continue to monitor and report as this story unfolds.

Betting on the LCS Summer 2023

At Thunderpick, we provide gamers with the opportunity to participate in the thrilling action of LoL betting. But as we await further developments, many bettors are asking what would happen to their bets if the tournament is canceled. 

In this situation, bettors can rest assured that the terms and conditions do cover them from such an eventuality. Thunderpick’s terms and conditions state that “14.4 Should a player/team withdraw before a tournament begins, or retire during a tournament, bets made on that player/team to win the tournament, or to advance in tournament, will be cancelled and resources refunded.”

Written byTHP

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