Joe Lacob, the majority owner of NBA team Golden State Warriors has been accepted into the North American League of Legends Championship Series as one of ten franchise owners, ESPN reports suggest.
The report, based off sources close to the Lacob family and Riot Games suggests that the $13,000,000 (£9.8m) entry fee will be payable over the next few years, with $8,000,000 (£6.03m) payable upfront and $5,000,000 (£3.77m) as an installment. Although the previously stated fee for joining the LCS was $10,000,000 (£7.54m), any entrants new to the LCS must pay an additional $3,000,000 hence bringing the figure to $13m.
Furthermore, Jacob Wolf explains that the application was consulted on by Catalyst Sports & Media, a company whose esports executive vice presidents are well-known lawyer Bryce Blum and Avi Bhuiyan. The company has also consulted on Hersh Interactive’s recent investment in EnVyUs and Madison Square’s purchase of CLG.
As of yet, this is the only news to break purporting to successful applicants to Riot’s new North American structure. The move to a franchise system has, on the whole been successful with several franchises and investors interested in entering the franchised system. However, it hasn’t gone without notice from organisations in Europe who now feel they are being hard done by given the seemingly good deal that North American investors will receive.
With teams such as Paris Saint-Germain, a huge hitter in the European football scene leaving the EU LCS, citing commercial insustainability as one of the main reasons, the future of the EU LCS does indeed look rocky. A Champions League type system where Europe expanded to 24 teams was previously floated, but reports suggest it has since been shelved amidst growing unrest from the European scene. In addition to Paris Saint-Germain completely leaving the European scene, H2K and Unicorns of Love have both been vocal with their dismay at Riot’s remuneration policy and the lack of sustainability in the scene.
It remains clear that there’s no easy fix to the problems in Europe, as a franchise system is comfortably more complicated to implement. Whereas in North America, the model is dominant, it is rarely, if ever, used in traditional European sports.
With a new, non-endemic entering the fray, questions now remain over which of the ten existing teams in the North American LCS will not secure a spot. It also begs the question as to whether Riot will shun organisations fundamentally endemic to the esports ecosystem, in a way that Overwatch League organisers Blizzard have been under fire for in recent weeks.
Esports Insider says: This is certainly huge news, as the first move into the new NA LCS emerges. The Golden State Warriors are a huge name in the NBA, having won multiple championships in recent years — but who loses out from the endemic side?