Franchising is coming to North America. At this point, we know this as a fact, not a piece of speculation. 2018 will present fans of the NA LCS with 10 teams both new and old, and all 10 of those teams will become all but impossible to unseat from the league. Under the new system, their failures will be ignored and relegation will become a spectre of the past.
But what about the NA LCS' sister league? What about Europe?
Well anyone who understands the differences between Europe's organized sports and the United States' won't be surprised to learn the eliminating relegation and imposing franchising isn't a popular idea amongst fans of the EU LCS. It's hard to blame them for that sentiment, as the EU LCS has been home to some truly dreadful teams in the past. Meet Your Makers, many incarnations of ROCCAT, and even the latest Origen lineup have all been incredible disappointments, and the idea of enshrining terrible organizations like these into the EU LCS for all time is, understandably, a hard sell to European fans.
Unfortunately, not doing so is a hard sell to the owners of European organizations, especially the successful ones. None more so than Ocelote, the owner of G2 Esports, who was quite critical of the choice to not franchise the EU LCS when he appeared on Esports Salon, a Youtube esports talk show hosted by the famous CS:GO analyst Thorin. "It is a possibility for G2 to move to NA," He said. "If there is a franchised region and one (that is) not, and in the one with relegation, the teams that stay in the league are rewarded more than those in a franchised system, then (the system) would make sense. it's more risk and more reward. But that is not the case."
He's certainly not wrong to say that. European organizations have always had enormous problems with signing sponsorship deals due to the unstable nature of the region and its lack of prestige compared to the NA LCS. While some organizations like Fnatic and G2 Esports, both of whom have enormous fan bases, get by regardless, that's definitely not the case for a team like, say, the Unicorns of Love, which have always operated on a lesser budget than many of their top competitors.
Thus, there's definitely little incentive to stay in the EU LCS to begin with, as the capital that teams have access to in Europe is far less than that which their American counterparts can call upon. Add the upcoming disparity instability to the mix as well, and it's no surprise that Ocelote is seriously considering shipping his team overseas. It's more money for less risk. Any rational business owner would be right to do the same in his boots.
Does this mean that we'll soon be seeing G2 Esports take over the NA LCS the same way they have the EU LCS? Only the future can tell, but considering the EU LCS isn't the only league that's declining to franchise -- the LCK is also maintaining it's original structure, and won't be franchising for the time being -- it's possible that the ten pennant hanging from the NA LCS arena come the beginning of the 2018 Spring Split include a couple of very unfamiliar faces.