Report: League of Legends NA LCS Aiming for Franchising in 2018

by Matt Best

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(Photo: lolesports)

According to theScore Esports, relegation may become a thing of the past in the NA LCS. Sources have told theScore Esports that the NA LCS plans on implementing franchising for the 2018 NA LCS Season. The source also indicates that an official announcement is coming soon.

Teams that currently hold NA LCS spots, or that will be holding them prior to franchising will not be guaranteed spots in the league for 2018. You could very well finish first and not have a spot once franchising comes along.

We have reached out to Riot for comment and are yet to hear back. However; theScore Esports were directed to a post from 2016 that said, "the first step [in building long-term partnerships] is securing those partners and putting the right structure in place." The post then stated that they were "looking to make this step in 2018."

Relegation has been a problem for teams in the past. More and more big time investors are getting involved with League of Legends and the risk of them falling into relegation could scare them off after one bad split.

If you compare this to traditional sports, imagine this if you will. After years of making the playoffs with storied NHL legends such as Mario Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguins fell into a slump and were one of the worst teams in the NHL. Players aged and their talent well evaporated. The team would be a bottom feeder but ownership stuck by the team and didn't pull the plug. Fast forward to 2017 and the Penguins are into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are trying to defend last years Stanley Cup Championship. 

Why do I bring up a hockey analogy? If the Penguins decided to pull the plug on the team after a bad season or two, the team would not go on to have one of the best franchises in NHL history. The key word there being franchises. No matter what happens with the NHL team, they would still remain in the league because they are a franchise. They own that spot through thick and thin. What would happen if TSM started to plummet because of players retiring (play along with me here)? Do you think they would be okay with being a NA CS team with all the backing they have? What if Dignitas, with the Philadelphia 76'ers, ended up being relegated? There's no way you can market a challenger series team and see profit. Having franchising in the NA LCS allows these teams to build exactly that, franchises. It eliminates the worry of being relegated and it keeps investors around longer while opening the door to more potential partnerships.

This all comes after a turbulent 2015-2016 season where Riot was under heavy fire and criticism for the lack of sustainability for teams within the NA LCS. Franchising rectifies this issue.

Simply put, franchising will give owners and organizations a spot of their own in the North American LCS without having to worry about being relegated.

With franchising in mind, the future of the North American Challenger Series is not yet clear.

UPDATE: Riot responded and said they have no official comment on the matter outside of the post that they pointed theScore Esports to

By Matt Best

Matt Best is the Lead On Air Host and Producer for WWG. He has spent his professional career submerged in both the traditional sports world as well as esports. As one of the only Canadians at WWG, if you want to tilt Matt, just bring up awful Canadian stereotypes.