The start of the 2023 LCS Summer Split has been thrown into serious doubt this week after North American League of Legends players represented by the LCS Players Association “overwhelmingly” voted to stage a walkout in response to Riot Games removing the obligation for organizations to field NACL rosters.
“This is not a decision LCS players have come to lightly,” the NA association’s statement read. “Countless discussions and debates were had between all LCS players in the week leading to this historic vote. One thing is clear from those conversations—our players want to play and compete above all else.”
The LCSPA declared the fact any walkout vote had passed was a testament to the “significance and urgency” of the issues in the NA league.
In particular, the association highlighted Riot’s failure to communicate with LCS players before any decisions were officially announced as one key grievance and called for league officials to return to the table for further talks.
The LCSPA did not confirm if the walkout would be staged on any LCS matchdays—Dot Esports has reached out to the association for confirmation—but it is widely expected any strike action would take place on LCS 2023 Summer’s opening day. The upcoming LCS season is set to begin on Thursday, June 1.
All 10 NA League teams are slated to play on Summer’s first matchday, which includes a Spring finals rematch between Cloud9 and Golden Guardians. If the day goes ahead, Thursday will also mark the return of NRG in the LCS.
Dot Esports has also reached out to Riot Games for a formal response to the association’s May 28 statement, but at the time of publication has not received any reply.
Before any vote was cast this weekend, the LCSPA tabled five requests it had hoped Riot officials would work on with the players.
These included a “VALORANT-style” relegation and promotion system between the LCS and NACL that would allow tier-two rosters the chance to join the premier League competition, much-needed incentives for participating teams, and a $300,000 USD revenue pool for each NACL team that would be spent on salaries.
The requests also included minimum contracts for championship players and a rule that provided three out of five players on any dropped NACL rosters first priority to retain their place—but only if the majority continue playing together.
Riot originally scrapped the rule which forced LCS members to field a mandatory NACL roster on May 12, midway through the 2023 Mid-Season Invitational in London.
After Riot’s rule changes, only Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, and FlyQuest retained their NACL lineups. 100 Thieves, TSM, Immortals, Golden Guardians, Dignitas, NRG, and Cloud9 have all since walked away from the academy program. The ball began rolling days earlier, on May 7, when all 10 LCS owners unanimously agreed to make the NACL an opt-in league system.
League fans said they were “proud” after the LCSPA vote passed.