When the LPL revealed last April that it would convert into a franchised league, it was the biggest League of Legends news we’d seen all year.
After months of speculation whether franchising was the right step for competitive League, the Chinese were jumping right in. But since that initial announcement, we’ve heard nearly nothing from the LPL. Instead, the NA LCS was the first to create a permanent partnership with three new teams. This is one area where NA is still ahead of the other regions.
On Saturday, representatives from the LPL issued a press release on Weibo that gave an update for their plans for China. They didn’t provide a timeline or many other key details, but did announce that, similar to Overwatch League, the LPL would be transitioning into a regional, city-based model. With the Chinese audience making up over 98 percent of League’s worldwide viewership, there should be enough fan support to make this regional model work well.
The other thing revealed was that, like the NA LCS, teams will have to apply to join the new league. Existing orgs will compete with new entrants on the basis of several criteria including:
- A clear structure between the team and its shareholder and owners.
- The financial stability of the club, including sufficient investment capital, revenue sources, etc.
- The team’s management, including brand power and coordination among managers.
- The team’s operating history, including player support and training.
Through this process, existing teams will be invited to apply for the new league. The announcement didn’t spell out franchise fees, or what happens if an endemic squad isn’t approved. It did mention that some sort of compensation would occur, and that old teams can reapply as the league expands.
This is a big step for the LPL, but many details remain unclear. A timeline has not been given, but it would be shocking to see execution of this process conclude before season eight begins. The previous report indicated that franchising was scheduled to begin in season eight, though timing now makes implementation between the spring and summer splits more likely.