Riot Games to introduce franchising to EU LCS in 2019, spot buy-ins from £7m

The European League of Legends Championship Series, often abbreviated as EU LCS, is following suit from its North American equivalent by becoming a franchised league in 2019.

ESPN has reported that franchising isn’t the only change coming to the league in 2019, with revenue sharing and increased player salaries also being introduced. Not only that, relegation will be scrapped, with teams entering partnership agreements for three years – only being removed if they have consistently poor performances or disciplinary issues.

It’s said that Riot Games, the game developer and league organiser, will open applications for the European LCS on Wednesday 28th March, with buy-in prices coming in at 8,000,000 euros (£6,997,307.20) for teams already in the league and 10,500,000 euros (£9,183,965.70) for teams that aren’t currently competing.

The restructuring of the league will see a revenue pool created and subsequently distributed to Riot Games, teams, and players. This money will be sourced from league sponsorship and media rights, as well as individual team sponsorships and merchandising. Players will receive 35% of the revenue pool, with a further 32.5% being used by Riot Games for broadcast production, live events, and any other league expense. The remaining 32.5% will partly be shared evenly across the teams, with extra going to teams based on “undisclosed competitive and engagement metrics”.

The minimum salary for players will rise from $29,719 (£20,965.57) to $74,749 (£52,732.43) in 2019. A player development platform will also be incorporated into the restructuring of the league, providing players with support to help them become the best they can be. Nothing final has been set on this front, with more information expected to come at a later date.

There will be a three-stage application process for both existing and new organisations that want to claim their spot in the league. The first stage involves organisations sending finances and plans to the league, with a select few going through to the second stage – which includes an in-person application review with Riot Games representatives from July to September. Then from October to December, Riot Games will choose and announce the chosen teams for the EU LCS.

The NA LCS embraced franchising for the 2018 season, but nothing was said regarding the EU LCS at the time. The Overwatch League’s inaugural season kicked off this year, and it saw the creation of 12 new franchises that would all compete against each other. Tencent, earlier this month, announced a franchised league for mobile MOBA Honor of Kings.

Esports Insider says: It’s good to see that European players and teams will soon receive a similar treatment as those competing in North America. The increase in salary is hefty, and will hopefully squash the complaints that the EU LCS lacks substantial financial backing. We can only hope that the teams that already compete are able to stump up the cash needed to continue to be involved now things are getting a lot tastier on the financial side. 

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