Unseen consequences of the SpoTV deal on the future of league.
So in my first article I discussed in depth the structural requirements to effectively create an infrastructure within e-sports, and explaining the success of SKT at worlds. One thing I didn’t mention was the competitive infrastructure that exists within Korea. Now the reasons for this are multiple, one is that I wanted to discuss only what is within the control of the players and organizations, rather than trying to influence Riot itself. However I also never imagined Riot Korea and Kespa to do what they have done to the LCK, simply because it is the most successful league in the world right now. Producing not only the last 3 world champion winning teams, but also producing talent at such quality and depth that has permeated other leagues worldwide for reasons I explained in my previous article.
In this I will be mentioning a couple of slightly complex economic principles and arguments, I will try and explain them as clearly as possible. If something is unclear, please comment or post below and I will try to explain further.
Now there are a couple of things that need to be discussed in terms of the logic of what has been said by Riot Korea and Kespa. The arguments put forward for this change are as follows:
The current format has an inherent flaw for viewers in that because of the nature of the Bo3 format, and the unpredictable time frame of league games that can range from 20-70? minute games makes scheduling difficult, producing time frame issues with the offline viewers (public transport issues).
They also said that having two companies would create competition to who would run the broadcast most successfully. And thus raise the standard of the LCK itself.
Player fatigue in waiting for the first match to end.
Now lets go through each of these arguments one by one logically.
In order to dismantle the point of the current format having an inherent flaw because of time issues, lets assume everything Riot and Kespa have said is correct. That because of the nature of the format and the game itself, scheduling is difficult and causes issues with offline viewers, that online viewers really couldn’t cope with having to watch a team that isn’t their favorite compete and are complaining about this. Now if this is all 100% true and accurate, then why wouldn’t Riot and Kespa just tell OGN these issues and have OGN simultaneously cast both games at the same time. Have backup casters, it’s not like they don’t have them for both the Korean and English stream, have 2 channels and allow viewers to tune into both channels. This would be the most logical and efficient way to solve such an issue. This would allow both the solving of the scheduling issues if this is an issue for advertisers, solves the offline issues with viewers and the train (lol as if this is an issue). And it allows online viewers to be able to watch their favourite team, at the exact time that they were told they are playing. I won’t go into the fact that if the second match is delayed, it’s probably because it’s a game 3 and the games have been close, but who wants to watch competitive league of legends anyway.
Player fatigue in waiting for the first match to end. I am not even going to logically dismantle this, this is such bullshit whoever wrote the PR release for this should be fired. I am not even going to dignify this with a response. A professional e-sports team, with coaching and support staff are going to collapse from fatigue because their game is 30minutes over time. LOL. Please, don’t patronize us.
Now to the crux of what I want to talk about. Having two companies would create competition to who would run the broadcast most successfully. Fortunately they understand one part of economics, so well done on that, competition does infact increase quality. More competition, the higher value you need to provide to your customers in order to maintain their business and attention.
But this is on the basis of a few fundamental factors, that they seem to have overlooked, or do not understand. This happens when there is a level playing field, but also, when you have trust and faith that the work you put in will not be taken away from you. This is the basic principle behind whats called “Property Rights”, and is one of the two fundamental building blocks of western societies and what makes us wealthy. Now why is this so important. Lets assume that you have nothing and you start to build a business, now lets say it’s going to take 3 years before your business will make money and be functioning properly and efficiently. Now if you know that in the 4th year someone is going to come and steal your business, or burn it down or force you to close, you will not put the effort into creating such an entity as the risk to reward isn’t there. There is no longer an upside for your hard work and sacrifice, because someone is just going to come and take it away. This is one of the cornerstones of why countries in the third world remain there, people don’t know if what they produce this year will be theirs, or if their business in 5 years will still exist. When you remove the essential part of property rights, you destabilize the entire foundation, and in this case, league worldwide. Forcing OGN to split the league it created with SpoTV is literally like what a third world tinpot dictatorship does. It’s taking the hard work of OGN, over many years to create the most successful, most competitive league in the world and giving it to a company that has not done anything to deserve this. SpoTV didn’t buy out OGN broadcast rights (as far as I know), this is pretty much a highway robbery of the hard work that OGN has put into the LCK and league of legends in Korea in general.
If Riot legitimately thought that having two leagues would create more competition (which I somewhat agree with), then allow SpoTV to create and run it’s OWN LEAGUE. Let them setup the infrastructure, viewership base, casters and everything else that goes into the broadcast of the current OGN LCK. Then it’s a fair playing field, and the viewership would be the biggest benefactors as they would have competing leagues for their attention, forcing OGN and SpoTV to raise their standards or lose viewership.
Now to the most important part of this article. What I call unseen consequences to this decision. This is going to destabilize all leagues, organizations and infrastructure not 100% controlled by Riot (Which I actually think is the ultimate goal of this, but conspiracy theories aside). The reason for the unseen consequences is that now organizations and infrastructures are not going to want to create, or be far more hesitant to create and distribute league content worldwide. As they are now running a massive risk of, if they do exactly what they set out to achieve, be a super successful brand and organization. That Riot and whoever pays them off are going to be able to come and take your success and divide it between themselves. That your hard work, effort and contribution to the industry is not protected but the more successful you are, the more vulnerable to a hostile takeover you are.
This is essentially Riot going banana republic on e-sports, this could have disastrous long term impacts on league that they are not even aware of, and we will not even be able to know the damage dealt to the game we love because of this. This is the slipperiest of slopes any organization can ever go down. I advise against it and proceed with caution. The impact and implications on Korean e-sports and infrastructure is totally unknown at this point, and frankly the risk reward is so out of proportion that utter corruption is the only logical explanation for this. I hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, beware for those who create, for the vultures have opened pandora’s box.