New changes to NACL

Following reports of esports organizations deciding not to participate in the North American Challengers League, the LCS has announced... Fragster | 15. May 2023

Following reports of esports organizations deciding not to participate in the North American Challengers League, the LCS has announced new changes to the competition.

There have been many changes in the Challengers League since it was launched as a feeder league to the LCS. Before the league was franchised, teams could compete in the Challengers in hopes of qualifying for the LCS via a promotion tournament.

LCS teams are no longer required to field Challengers teams

Post-franchise, the competition became a developmental league for LCS teams to sign up rising talent and let them play at a high level for a decent salary. Riot later had non-franchise amateur teams compete alongside LCS Challengers teams in other competitions to create a true amateur league.

According to a report, the LCS organizations voted to scrap the rule requiring teams to compete in the North American Challengers League. A few days later, the LCS confirmed that teams had asked for the rule to be removed and that it will be gone starting with the Summer Split.

The change was made to give North American League of Legends teams “more operational and financial flexibility.”

In the announcement, the league said it is still committed to a North American talent development pipeline and will continue to operate the Challengers League going forward.

As the LCS organizations move out of the second-tier league, Riot Games will introduce a promotion and relegation system to the competition. Previously, teams in other tournaments fought for a chance to advance to the NACL while LCS Challengers teams waited in the league to arrive, but now all teams will be on an equal footing.

Riot Games Statement

The announcement also revealed that the league will be made “more geographically accessible” by utilizing the game’s servers in Chicago, as opposed to the Los Angeles servers used by pro teams because they are based in California. Riot will also help teams in the league financially with Twitch subscription opportunities and broadcast integrations.

There was also a hint of a “cross-region competition for America.” Unlike the EMEA regional leagues, the second division system in the Americas does not interact with each other or participate in joint tournaments. Riot looks forward to exploring what cross-region competition can look like in the Americas region.”

Criticism of the LCS players association

The LCS Players Association issued a statement after the news broke from Riot, expressing player displeasure at the move.

The organization’s statement said:

“Three weeks ago, Riot claimed to be building the future of esports worldwide. Today, Riot gave up that future for North America. While today’s statement was presented as a commitment to NACL, the reality is that up to 70 players, coaches and managers will lose their jobs overnight.”

The association also said that Riot only informed players a week ago that there will be no changes for the Challengers League and called on community members to urge Riot to reverse its decision.

Furthermore, the statement also said that it is disingenuous to portray the move as a way to give orgs more financial flexibility. According to the association, the average annual salary cost for an NACL team is “less than 17%” of the League of Legends-based salary cost of an average LCS organization.

The statement also lists the association’s proposals for Riot in 2024, which include changing the way NACL teams are paid, allowing affiliated organizations to operate NACL teams, introducing revenue-sharing opportunities for LCS teams and promotion/relegation along with a revenue share for outside organizations investing in the NACL.

Header: Riot Games