League of Legends pro teams agitate for better compensation

Well, points for effort.
Last week, the owners of a number of North American and European League of Legends Championship Series teams dispatched a letter to Riot Games outlining their many complaints with the way the professional LoL¬†e-sports scene is handled. Specifically, the teams have criticized the way the league provides insufficient job security and compensation, which currently amounts to only a guarantee of $12,500 per North American player per season. (That’s not all they make, as they’re also paid by their teams, but it’s the baseline.)

“Riot wants partners who will continue to lose money with the expectation of making money in the long-term, but offers no long-term commitment to any Team,” the letter argues. “The Teams have been advised that operating a business at a loss is our choice.”

One word you’ll see over and over in the letter and discussion is “relegation,” and it’s something the professional teams aren’t happy with. Here’s wikipedia’s explanation:

“In sports leagues, promotion and relegation is a process where teams are transferred between two divisions based on their performance for the completed season. The best-ranked team or teams in the lower division are promoted to the higher division for the next season, and the worst-ranked team or teams in the higher division are relegated to the lower division for the next season. In some leagues, playoffs or qualifying rounds are also used to determine rankings. This process can continue through several levels of divisions, with teams being exchanged between levels 1 and 2, levels 2 and 3, levels 3 and 4, and so on. During the season, teams that are high enough in the league table that they would qualify for promotion are sometimes said to be in the promotion zone, and those at the bottom are in the relegation zone (or, colloquially, the drop zone or facing the drop).”

In other words, being relegated and bumped down a division, especially with no other revenue streams, is ruinous.

The teams have called for a halt to the relegation process in 2017 — what they’ve dubbed a “bridge year” — while the business model for North American teams is sorted out. They’ve also demanded a hefty hike in pay for players and revenue sharing for digital and physical merchandise. They’ve politely asked Riot to “adopt these compromise terms” by December 1st.

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