While Riot Games has not yet publicly addressed the impending LCS player walkout, reports from behind the scenes suggest league officials are “furious” with this week’s unfolding situation, and have even begun threatening major fines and even the total loss of North American franchise slots for any organizations that fail to field League of Legends rosters in Summer.
In Riot’s eyes, this player walkout is only heaping further problems on an esports venture already nosediving in regards to viewership and revenue, independent journalist Richard Lewis reported on Substack on May 30.
One source told Lewis that Riot has already warned orgs an inability to field a team will “have them re-evaluate their fitness for membership.”
While an evaluation wouldn’t necessarily mean any NA team is immediately kicked, the messaging from Riot seems fairly simple: play ball or risk losing your slice of the pie.
Following the formal warning, at least two LCS orgs immediately requested the opportunity to slot administrative staff into playing rosters for at least the first week of the 2023 LCS Summer Split—which was originally set to begin at 2pm CT this coming Thursday, June 1—if not longer.
That particular request has since been put on the backburner after Riot made the call to delay the LCS season opener at least two weeks, to June 15.
The LCS walkout, led by the LCSPA, has been bubbling up behind the scenes for weeks now. The orchestrated movement was staged by an “overwhelming” amount of players after Riot’s May 7 decision to scrap mandatory participation for LCS orgs in the NACL—the ‘second tier’ of NA League.
As of publication, all LCS stars have stood down from play.
Beyond the private warnings to teams that they may lose their franchise spots, Riot has also suggested publicly any further delays to the competition could see the Summer Split canceled and NA excluded from Worlds. Dot Esports has contacted Riot officials on this particular suggestion but has received no reply.
Riot and the LCSPA did have a meeting planned for today, but beyond the sudden competition delay, nothing else has come out of the talks.
Keep up with further developments in Dot’s ongoing coverage hub.