Opening Week of LCS Delayed Amid Player Walk Out 

On the evening of May 30th, Riot Games released a statement announcing a delayed start of the LCS Summer Split. This news comes as no surprise to anyone following the ongoings of the North American League of Legends League as the LCS Players Association (LCSPA) voted to walk out and announced its passing on Twitter Sunday night. Many worry about how this will affect the league’s future, as Riot Games has threatened to remove North American teams from the World Championships if they fail to start their season in a timely manner. 

LCS Players Association Walk Out

The discourse between the LCS Players Association and Riot Games started earlier this month on May 12th when Riot Games removed the requirement for the teams in the LCS to continue the operations of their Challenger League teams. In its most recent iteration, the Challenger League was initially formed during the start of franchising. It included 10 teams fielded by the LCS teams competing in a developmental league.

It was touted as the premier path to pro for the best amateur North American talent to find their way to the big league. However, the Challenger League failed to find a following, and there was sentiment among fans that teams were using the teams to hold onto veteran players who had proven to be no longer able to compete at the top level while not giving new talent a chance to make a name for themselves.

However, perception does not always match reality, as just in 2023, five players had been promoted from the Challengers League to the LCS. Plenty of talent has risen from the amateur league, which made Riot’s decision to remove the requirement of Challenger League participation halfway through the 2023 competitive season all the more shocking. 

Though shocking, it wasn’t unforeseen as a majority of the teams were already asking Riot for the change to occur, stating that the prices to run a second team weren’t returning its value. The move saw an immediate reaction from the LCSPA as they released a statement condemning Riot’s decision. A little over a week later news broke that the LCSPA was guaging interest surrounding a walk out. The LCSPA twitter released a list of 5 asks from Riot before voting to Walk Out five days later.

The Future of the LCS

No one really knows what’s next in the landscape of Competitive League of Legends in North America as the LCSPA and Riot Games are in what seems to be a stand still. Riot released a statement responding the LCSPA’s list of asks and insisting that they remain committed to the growth and development of the LCS and North American talent, believing that they’ll be able to create a “Tier 2 Developement System” akin to the European Regional League that has had much success for the LEC. 

In the same statement the announced that they would also delay the start of the LCS Summer Split two week after the split was due to start this Thursday setting the new start date for June 15th. It will be imperative for both parties to come to an agreement as further delay would jeapordize North America’s ability to send representatives to the World Championships according to the released statement.

With what could be the life of the league on the line it’ll be interesting to see how teams, Riot, and the LCSPA move forward with negotiations as all eyes in the esports world are on them seeing if they’ll be able to make a deal.