The long-standing speculations about the future franchising of the League of Legends EU LCS have finally been confirmed.
Riot Games revealed plans for making the League a more stable and player-friendly environment, which include long-term partnership with teams, shared revenue and more.
With goals to make the EU LCS a multi-generational sports league and form lasting connections between teams and their fans, ten organisations will be accepted into the first franchised season of European LoL competition, which will start in 2019.
Relegations are set to be removed from the league, in order to provide teams with more options for future investment and lessen the chance of financial collapse.
Franchising will also open the opportunity for revenue sharing between teams and pros alike, similar to the partnership programmes already implemented in the North American and Chinese top leagues.
All parties will contribute to single league revenue pool (LRP), and share the pool between themselves afterwards. The percentages are already known: 35% of the LRP will be shared among players to cover their payment, 32.5% will go to the teams, and the remaining 32.5% will be allocated to Riot Games to cover production and organisation costs.
Minimum player salary will be raised to €60,000, more than doubling the current lowest accepted pay, and equalling the salary floor between newcomers and league veterans.
Additionally, a yet undisclosed player development platform will be launched, with the goal to help players with personal finance, healthcare and other issues. This is especially targeted towards rookies and young players, to ensure that they have all that is needed to reach their full potential. More details about the platform will be revealed over the next few months.
The buy-in prices are reported to be 8 million euros ($9.93 million) for teams currently competing in the league, and 10.5 million euros ($13.02 million) for teams aiming to enter the league from outside. In NA LCS’s case, six previously established LCS teams were accepted into the franchise, while four new organisations made their start in 2018.
Teams will be required to pass a three-stage application process in the same manner the NA organisations did last year. The first phase will include explaining their team strategy, brand, business plans and ownership details in an application sent to Riot. They will also need to answer a set of special questions listed by the company, which will provide enough information for them to decide if the applicant will be a valuable addition to the league.
In the second phase, Riot will review the received applications with advice from third-party experts in the field, in order to decide which teams will be invited to send their representatives for an interview. The interview will require the teams to present their application in-person and give a detailed explanation for each part of the application. As stated in the release, Riot’s goal is to “partner with strong organisations who share the same vision of strengthening the EU LCS and are capable of making that dream a reality”. Ten teams will advance from the interview phase, and those teams will be part of the 2019 season of EU LCS.
In the final phase, paperwork and signings will be finished, and the full line-up of the franchised EU LCS will be announced before the free agency period kicks off in November. Current teams that are not accepted into the franchise will have a buyout period, during which they will be able to sell the contracts of any remaining players. The rejected orgs will also receive a compensation from Riot for all their contributions and investments in Europe’s premier League of Legends competition.
The potential franchising of the EU LCS has been rumoured for months now, and it is a logical move by Riot after multiple complaints by European teams regarding financial stability and profitability of the league. H2K and Unicorns of Love released public statements aimed at Riot, and some of the strongest EU LCS teams, Fnatic, G2 Esports, Splyce and Misfits even applied for the NA LCS last year. All of them were rejected, and remained in EU.
Many different organisations are rumored to be interested in taking part in the new league, and according to ESPN, multiple European football (soccer) teams have expressed wishes to apply. Representatives of these clubs will reportedly attend future League of Legends events in Europe, including the EU LCS finals in Copenhagen and the Mid-Season Invitational knockout stage in Paris. Other orgs rumored to apply to the franchise are Europe’s former powerhouse Origen, who are making a return to the League of Legends scene after months of silence, and Europe-based former NA LCS participants Team Dignitas and Team EnVyUs.
Riot will be accepting applications for the franchise until July 1st.