LPL to implement salary caps, will assign players in tiers based on performance

Will other Leagues follow suit?

Image via Riot Games

A major piece of news in the Chinese League of Legends was largely missed by Western media last month.

During the Tencent E-sports Annual Conference on Aug. 24, Tengjing Sports CEO Jin Yibo revealed that the LPL will gradually introduce salary caps similar to the NBA.

The salary cap system is made to ensure that all teams have equal possibilities when it comes to acquiring players to form a good team and that throwing money around isn’t the answer. There will be a minimum wage as the lower limit and a luxury tax as the upper limit.

The teams which will go below the lower limit or above the upper limit will be punished. The upper limit punishment will take away the right from teams to sign new players, which as a result will force them to adjust to it.

This is clearly a major change to the LPL, and it could have major implications for the rest of League professional scene as well. If successful in cutting down costs while maintaining the integrity of the league, then Riot could apply it to other regions as well to even out the rules for everyone.

In an interview with hupu.com, the LPL’s head of ecological development, Zhou Daxing said the primary reason of this move is to enable the LPL to develop continuously and prevent excessive capital investment from disrupting the fairness of the league.

“Since the expenditure will be limited, teams can invest more into their academy teams to create the next generation of LPL players,” he said.

The salary level of players will be linked to a data-driven approach by quantifying the performance of each game. The algorithm will be announced later this year.

This salary cap system will ensure that some teams with a lot of money don’t just stack up the best players in each possible position and then dismantle everyone in the league. Companies backed by venture capitalists will no longer be able to acquire a lot of high tier players, while the organizations with a small budget will get their time to shine.

While it’s unclear if any of current teams will be affected by this change, one thing is for certain—a new era is coming to the Chinese League of Legends professional scene.