Riot esports head doesn’t want LCS to be ‘import league’

Needham said Riot plans to focus on helping the LCS become an NA league.

Photo by Timothy Norris via Riot Games

In recent years, as more money has been injected into League of Legends esports, many of the game’s top regional leagues have signed international talent to try to hang with the best teams in the world.

These leagues have rules to limit the amount of ‘imports’ on a single team, but some, most notably the LCS, have garnered a reputation for utilizing too many international players. Whether that’s fair or not, it’s reality. But Riot Games’ head of esports, John Needham, doesn’t want it to be that way.

“It’s great because—the EU—zero imports. We’re competing on the biggest stages in the world for esports, and that’s something that I’m hoping to replicate in all of our leagues around the world,” Needham told The Shotcaller. “NA will be next. We’re really going to try to figure out how we can foster talent through the NA system.”

Needham said Riot will focus on growing NA talent next season because he doesn’t want the LCS to be known as an “import league.”

Unfortunately, the LCS teams, specificially Dignitas, don’t seem to be too focused on that. Dignitas, which will return to the LCS in 2020 after purchasing Clutch Gaming, reportedly plans to sign Korean top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon to a two-year, $2.3 million contract.

It makes sense that the LCS teams wouldn’t care as much as Needham does about fostering domestic talent. After all, the teams are trying to win. And to date, a North American team has never won Worlds. In fact, an Asian team has won Worlds every year since Season One.