Riot Games Introduces New NA LCS Team Application Process, $10 Million Buy-in

by Tanner Dedmon

LoL Esports
(Photo: LoL Esports)

Riot Games announced on Thursday that in addition to multiple sizable changes being made to the North American League of Legends Championship Series in 2018, teams that wish to participate in the league will have to undergo a newly designed application process, one that comes with a $10 million buy-in to participate in the NA LCS.

As reported in an interview with Yahoo Esports, League of Legends employees responsible for organizing the professional esports scene gave some insight into the decision behind the big buy-in. They're aware that it may seem like a staggering number, but they assure that the price will better the teams and the league by allowing organizations to invest more into the NA LCS.

“We’re not looking to do a bidding process,” said Jarred Kennedy, co-head of esports and head of merchandising for Riot Games. “We’re looking to establish a flat fee. That flat fee will be $10 million. The reason that we’re doing this in this way is we’re not optimizing for the highest dollar. We’re not looking for mercenaries who can pay the highest price and therefore have the highest ability to extract dollars from our fans or our scene and get a return on that investment. What we want to do is use this process to find the right set of partners who are going to build this league with us.”

Not all of the money will have to be forked over immediately, though. The current plan is to have half of the buy-in be paid up front while the last half will be deferred over time. It's a steep price, but Riot Games says that the long-term benefits of the investment will begin accumulating quickly with the new partnership franchise program that will be put in place next year.

The application process that accompanies the buy-in hopes to achieve similar goals, one of the main ones being ensuring that the organizations planning to get involved are looking forward to the betterment of their players and more long-term initiatives. Four of the main topics that Riot plans to target with the application process include vetting the teams on who will be owning the team and interacting with the players, how the team plans to progress and develop their talent, what kind of brand they want to create and market to fans, and what their business plan looks like as far as sponsorships and player compensation is concerned.

During the second step in the application, Riot plans to dig deeper into the prospective organizations by asking them to present their case in person as to why they should be considered. Background checks, credit checks, and other financial checks will be put in place to make sure they're in it for the long run and can support the teams. In November, the 10 teams selected to be a part of the league will be announced, and those not selected will be compensated for their investment and will have the chance to negotiate the sale of their brand and any contracted players with the team.

More League of Legends News: Riot Games Announces Permanent Partnership Franchising For NA LCS 2018 / NA League Of Legends Pros Get Salary Increase, Shared League-based Revenue

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