Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses Leaving LCS

Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses announced that they’re leaving the League of Legends scene as the LCS drops down to 8 teams.

The official beginning of the League of Legends offseason is upon us. The first day brought a big piece of news for the North American scene as Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses announced they’d be leaving the LCS and ending their League of Legends operations. The LCS announced that next season’s league will consist of 8 teams instead of 10 like in seasons prior. 

With esports fans weary of another Overwatch League-like situation, many wonder what this means for the future of North American League of Legends in the next few years moving forward. Riot still seems to be figuring out their plans moving forward with the LCS, as John Needham, Riot’s President of Esports, told Travis Gafford in an interview posted to Gafford’s YouTube. Needham was unable to comment on whether the LCS would be expanding back to 10 teams in the near future, causing concern to some fans. 

LCS Moving to Eight

The announcement of the League’s decision to move to an eight-team format came rather suddenly, with many players not having any heads up as to the fact that their position would no longer exist for the 2024 season. Licorice, the starting Top Laner for Golden Guardians last season, went on Twitter and revealed that he received the morning of November 20th that Golden Guardians would be leaving the LCS and that his prior plans to stay with the team next season had suddenly been upended. 

There had been speculation that some teams may be leaving the LCS prior to the news. Many in the esports world already knew of Evil Geniuses’ financial issues as the organization’s dispute over pay with their Valorant roster went public a couple of months ago. Though fewer fans foresaw the Golden Guardians leaving the scene after the team had their most successful season in franchise history, as the team was a match away from playing in the World Championships. 

Even with some predicting some teams would leave, no one was predicting that the League would lower the number of teams competing in the league. The LCS has operated under a 10-team system since the beginning of franchises. Of the original 10 teams, only 4 remain in Cloud9, 100 Thieves, FlyQuest, and Team Liquid. Even as the league continues to evolve and adapt, it’s clear to see that League of Legends won’t be the next big sport investors think back in 2018.

LCS Over the Years

When the LCS announced its franchising plans for the 2018 season and beyond, many esports fans were hoping that this would help add legitimacy to the league and to esports as an industry. Fans at the time were hoping that since teams didn’t have to worry about being relegated from the league and losing their investment, they’d put more money into developing a North American ecosystem that would help develop domestic talent that could compete on the international stage with the powerhouses in China and Korea. 

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as the top teams would spend large amounts of money to lure the best international talent away from their domestic leagues to compete in the LCS on contracts reportedly worth upwards of $1M. Since the start of franchising back in 2018, North America still has yet to produce top teams at international competitions, and interest in the league and esport has gone down. Echo Fox, Clutch Gaming, OpTic Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Team SoloMid, and Golden Guardians all, at some point, gave up their initial $10M+ investments in a league that started with so much promise less than a decade ago.