Riot Games Announces "Permanent Partnership" Franchising For NA LCS 2018

by Tanner Dedmon

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(Photo: lolesports)

Riot Games announced on Thursday that there will be some significant changes made to the structuring of the North American League of Legends Championship Series in 2018, changes that will bring about the end of the relegation system currently in place and will create a franchising model that includes 10 teams that will be considered "partners."

In a hefty post that detailed the in-depth changes that Riot plans to make to the NA LCS next year, one of the main areas of focus that the company said it wished to target with their changes involves "Changing the structure of the league to encourage long-term investments." To meet this goal, Riot has decided that those teams who participate within the NA LCS will be selected from an application process, and once accepted, will become permanent members of the NA LCS with a greatly reduced chance of losing their spot due to the removal of the relegation system currently in place.

Under the current relegation system, there's certainly a degree of uncertainty when it comes to whether or not certain teams will retain their spot in the league. Removing the system means that the teams don't have to be quite as concerned with making long-term decisions on their future while under the risk of getting booted, a move that Riot says is positive since it will allow the teams to act without "juggling uncertainty."

Some of the specific risks that Riot said they hope to alleviate with the franchising changes include large, long-term efforts such as building comprehensive training facilities for players or similar long-term sponsorships. The franchising system will allow for both the teams and sponsoring organizations to make necessary moves for the betterment of the teams and the players, the well-being of the players being another critical aspect that Riot kept in mind during the restructuring.

Of course, without the risk of losing their spot in the NA LCS, there does exist the issue of keeping the league competitive. Players currently have to worry about not only the importance of winning, but also the consequences of losing, an aspect of the league that drives them do perform at higher levels.

To replace this incentive with a more positive one as the relegation system ends, Riot is offering financial incentives for the teams that depend on their placement within the league. Those at the top of the league will receive the most, and the incentives will gradually lessen depending on where the teams find themselves placed.

Teams aren't completely safe in the new system though as there's still a chance to be removed from the league based on consistently poor performance. Should a team finish in either ninth or tenth place out of the 10 teams five times over an 8-split span, these teams can lose their ability to compete within the league.

Progress on these massive changes to the NA LCS and several more will be announced throughout the year. Riot plans to have the application process close on July 14, and the teams that will be selected as partners are to be revealed in November.

More League of Legends news: Riot Games Introduces New NA LCS Team Application Process, $10 Million Buy-in / NA League Of Legends Pros Get Salary Increase, Shared League-based Revenue

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