Riot Games has confirmed that the LCS will be an eight team league in 2024, with Evil Geniuses and Golden Guardians mutually agreeing with Riot to exit the league without being replaced, but the Players Association isn’t pleased.
The LCSPA released a statement following Riot’s confirmation of the news today, arguing that Riot made an “11th hour” decision that has taken jobs away from 20 percent of the league overnight.
The Player’s Association would go on to say that while there are frustrations with how the decision was communicated and that the players on the teams affected don’t have enough time to find jobs again, removing “struggling” orgs is a net benefit. In early 2023, Evil Geniuses reportedly mistreated Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki, a young North American star. In Dota 2, they were sued by Syed “SumaiL” Hassan, and the case is heading to trial. They’re also reportedly in dispute with their VALORANT roster as well.
“Only when players have their voices fully heard, can we all build a better future for the LCS than what franchising has delivered so far,” the Player’s Association said.
Earlier in the year, the LCSPA showed that it actually has a bit of muscle. When Riot unexpectedly stopped requiring LCS teams to field Academy rosters, the PA voted to walk out of the opening games of the Summer Split. The walkout vote forced Riot to postpone the games, and later threaten to cancel the Split and strip Worlds qualification slots outright rather than face embarrassment.
The LCSPA cannot order a formal strike, merely a walkout, because it is a player’s association and not a recognized union. Unionization efforts in esports with developer-franchised leagues are hampered by having more parties than traditional unions. Typical unions are the employees and the employer; in the LCSPA’s case it’s the players, the organizations, and Riot themselves.
It remains to be seen if this is an inflection point for the LCSPA, and whether they will vote to take action again.
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