The Future of Pro Play, Coming into Season 8
Mon 13th Nov 2017 - 7:22pm
League of Legends is a household name inside the esports world. With over 27 million daily users throughout the world as of 2014 (that number may very well be higher today), there's no doubt about its success. However, with the announcement of the reworked runes (which replace both current runes and masteries), introduction of franchising into the 2018 NA LCS, as well as champions such as Rakan and the newly announced Zoe breaking boundaries and inspiring new playstyles, some are already questioning the future of the gaming behemoth.
There's good reason to doubt a game's future too. Sometimes the competitive scene just dies out too quickly, or doesn't generate enough revenue for organizations and players to invest in the league or game anymore. And sometimes it's just because the developer doesn't support the competitive scene as much as they should. With League, however, the reasons become a little more unpredictable, depending on the success of the franchise model. Most reasons why players doubt the future is due to drastic change.
Most of the time, a drastic change in terms of game balance, doesn't impact the competitive viability of a game, but the big change in the League of Legends scene comes in the form of franchising. Riot Games, the developers behind League of Legends, is changing the current relegation system in the NA LCS in 2018, and in the EU LCS in 2019 to a franchise-based system. Here, we'll do a quick roleplay to demonstrate how the application for franchising works. You'll play the part of a new NA LCS applicant. Here's the application process you, and other teams are going to go through:
Step 1: Submit an app! All interested teams, existing or not, must submit an application. Any team can submit one!
Step 2: Congrats! You made it through step 1. Riot Games calls you, and other organizations to their HQ to explain your case a little more. How will you keep fans engaged? Are you able to become a house hold name?
Step 3: Congrats! Riot Games really liked your pitch, and selected you to join the NA LCS, along with 9 other teams. You and the other teams will need to pay a fee, secure your roster, then prepare for January!
That's the process teams applying and reapplying to the 2018 NA LCS! Simple enough right? Sort of. Not all teams make it through step 1, or even step 2. That means your favorite team from the 2017 NA LCS may not come back, while some new teams make their debut.
That proves a challenge for the teams, and players, that don't make it back into the NA LCS, and eventually the EU LCS. But the future of League of Legends, isn't all negative. Franchising brings in not only opportunity for players, but also stability. For example, franchising secures a solid minimum salary for everyone involved. All NA LCS players, once accepted into the newly franchised series, will be making about $75,000 every year they're on the NA LCS, while payrates for the EU LCS are still unknown due to the franchise transition being about a year out. On top of that, those accepted into the new franchise system are referred to as permanent, meaning they likely won't be able to lose their spot unless they sell it or decide to invest in something else, instead of League.
Riot officially announces the 2018 NA LCS competitors some time Q4 2017. By then, more information about the league and its future will be discussed more openly than it is at the time of writing. However franchising impacts the league, how cut teams and accepted teams move forward, League is sort of like cooking for the first time: There's a lot of ingredients involved, a few sets of directions, but after throwing them together, you'll end up with a wonderful dish for everyone to enjoy.
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