Report: League of Legends Leagues Intended to be Simultaneously Franchised

by James Bates

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(Photo: Riot Games)

Just yesterday we caught word of one of the biggest changes to ever touch the League of Legends scene when China's LPL announced their move towards a regional league system, an announcement that was accompanied by the bombshell statement that the LPL would also be simultaneously franchising the league. While franchising has been a huge topic of discussion in the League community for a year or so now, even the most ambitious estimates put the first moves towards franchising still some way down the road, with 2018 being the widely acknowledge year where franchising might come to the LCS regions. Well, new information has come to light that may indicate a slightly faster timetable than what anyone had previously anticipated.

The owner of LGD, Yang, made the following remarks during a stream by his team captain, Pyl. The remarks indicate that Riot has had quite a bit going on behind the scenes that the community as a whole were unaware of, and seems to indicate that not only is franchising imminent but that it's also coming far sooner than we expected. The statement, as translated by Chinese news outlet Tuwan eSports is as follows:

"(About the) Home base we aren't sure yet, we already applied, the plan is to locate in Hangzhou. Then EDG takes Guangzhou, Snake takes Suzhou, OMG takes Chengdu.

We already knew about the franchising, so this avoiding relegation is very important. I think this will spread other regions, it was supposed to initiate at the same time in all the regions. I think it was supposed to be like this, to think all the time and effort you poured into it, then get relegated. This year our expense is at 8 figures, if we get relegated, then it all goes to waste. I think under the new rule, it will be more competitive among the league, we can finally have the effort to develop young talent without worrying relegation."

The statement that has eyebrows raised around the world is "It was supposed to initiate at the same time in all the regions". At this time there hasn't even been confirmation that the NA/EU LCS and LCK are looking at franchising, and the conversation about whether or not such a move would be healthy for the game is still ongoing. It would appear that Riot, however, has had far greater designs than expected all along.

Not everyone is critical of the push towards franchising, however. WWG's Matt Best comes from a background in traditional sports, and thus has quite a few positive things to say about the process. “I think the biggest takeaway here is that franchising is indeed planned for all the regions," He said regarding the news. "Not having them happen at the same time, sure, is a little annoying but that’s not what people should look at. Franchising is going to be a big deal. People often ask what the next big step is in the world of esports and this is it. Big time sponsors are starting to come around and join the scene and you can bet that they want that extra bit of protection in their back pocket. A team finishes last? That’s fine. You don’t get relegated. You rebuild, stay in the LCS and ultimately, the sponsor doesn’t pull out. This is a way to not only build infrastructure for teams on a consistent basis, but a way to legitimize esports as a whole.“

By James Bates

A wanna-be novelist turned coach turned journalist, James is living proof that you never know where you'll end up. He's in love with narrative-heavy games, which he proves by spending his days writing about a game with less lore than Doom. His greatest regret in life is not having his name in the credits of Life is Strange, and it's galvanized him to truly pursue developing games that don't begin in packed taverns and use D20s.