League of Legends NA e-sports league reorg means $75K pro player salaries, revenue sharing, and player association

    
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E-sports
Riot Games is in the midst of a major reorganization of its League of Legends e-sports organization, at least in North America. The company is replacing relegation with a different system for punishing underperforming teams and making selected teams permanent partners in the league – at least if they can afford the $10M buy-in. The takeaway is that pro player salaries within the LCS will start at a staggering $75,000, with a proper revenue-sharing scheme for both players and teams to share the wealth. Perhaps even more importantly, Riot is helping players set up a Players’ Association this year, initially funded by Riot but eventually to be taken over by the pros.

“Players will vote on independent reps to be their voice in league decisions and the Association will provide easy access to core resources like skills training, financial planning and legal help. We’ll be funding the launch of the Association, however the representation that the players vote on and elect is responsible solely to them. The goal is that this Association is an independent voice of the players to work with Riot and the teams. It’s our hope and expectation that as the association grows, the players assume full financial control over the organization.”

SuperData has already weighed in on the move, suggesting that the e-sports market will “rally” as Riot is “finally formulating a clear strategy around its competitive gaming effort,” setting a precedent for other studios anf their leagues (including Overwatch, which is nowhere near as transparent yet) and stabilizing the advertising and sponsorship market.

In other e-sports news, Kleiner Perkins’ Internet Trends Report released this week with a first-ever game-centric section, as reported by Gamasutra. The VC group has noted that so-called millennials as as likely to follow e-sports as they are real sports, a marked shift from Gen X responses.

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Melissa McDonald

Athletes of all sports have short careers. #SaveYourMoney

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Sorenthaz

And it’s hard to see League lasting forever. It depends too heavily on Riot repeatedly changing things up, and they keep changing things in a way that reduces skill caps/strategic macro play. They keep LoL on an unpredictable and heavily unstable update pace where every 2 weeks something significant could change, basically taking Blizzard’s approach with WoW expansions but doing it way more frequently.

Riot is also the one largely paying for their e-sports scene, so unless they start relying heavily on sponsors and partnership deals, the moment LoL starts declining and making less money is the moment their scene starts to lose quality (unless they want to bleed themselves to death). They basically use their esports scene as their way of marketing and advertisement and doing stuff like this is an attempt to get the name out more so more people get in and buy stuff.

Game’s already 7 years old and unless they announce a LoL 2 there’s no way they’re going to be able to make another game that beats LoL’s level of success. So they better milk it while they last as they keep trying to open it up more and more to people at the cost of the competitive ceiling crumbling.

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Sorenthaz

I still don’t see how this’ll end well long term when production largely is on Riot’s money and the game is going to hit a decline point of no return if it hasn’t started declining already. Doesn’t help that Riot keeps lowering the skill gap and appealing more and more to the lowest common denominator.

miol
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miol

Finally some progress!

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Panzerbjorne

75k is chump change in the grand scheme. If the player lives in NY, LA SF, SEA, they couldnt even afford to own a home on that salary. If you’re a young person that may sound like a lot, but it’s not at all.

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thalendor

Obviously, mileage varies, sometimes a lot, depending on where you live but, considering median individual income in the USA is closer to 42k, that 75k is, in fact, a pretty decent paycheck compared to what most people make.

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FreecczLaw

Like Jacobin said 75k is not what anyone will earn because teams will pay salary as well outside of the Riot guaranteed minimum and there are other things added on top. However even if it was only the 75k (and actually having to pay living expenses) I agree with you, calling it chump change is just pure bs “in the grand scheme”.

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Jacobin GW

That is the minimum, the teams will pay a lot more to the good players. They also get money for promotions and a ton for streaming. Living expenses covered.

There are basically no other jobs other than professional athletes that will pay that amount to someone who is most likely aged 17-22.

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Panzerbjorne

But that’s what these kids are, professional athletes. Not a big thing for me to complain about, I wish them the best and hopefully they can make a lot more from all the other stuff your mentioned.

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Lights and Music

But that’s what these kids are, professional athletes.

In the way that Bitcoin is actual currency, sure.

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silverlock

The problem lies in the fact that they probably have less then a decade as a professional player and these skill wont transfer to anything else.

It will be tough going from a player making 75K to a Best Buy stock boy making 20K. Well hopefully they’ll plan for the future.

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Jacobin GW

This is just plain false. They gain such a huge following that they can transfer to being a full time streamer and make in some cases more than being a pro player. If they actually win a big tournament that can be hundreds of thousands right there.

Secondly if a career ends at 22-25 and he is walking away with several hundred thousand dollars or more in the bank he can pay for education or invest and easily make like 20k a year with just a 5% annual return doing nothing.

Lots of people have to put off education in order to save money at low end jobs. These guys on the other hand are making incredibly good money and building a giant personal brand. Its a way better position to be at by 23 than 99% of people.

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Melissa McDonald

All good reasons to move to the great state of Tennessee, where cost of living is far lower and there is no state income tax :)

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Armsbend

That seems like a generous salary on paper. Good on Riot for giving their slaves a good wage.

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Arktouros

Ya know as cool as all this is, like avoiding getting into programming games for a living, I don’t think I’d want to be a professional anything gamer (be it esport, twitch, etc). Just don’t see the appeal into making something you’re supposed to sit back, relax, and enjoy into having to stress out or worry about performing well in. Seems like it would just suck the fun out of it.

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Bruno Brito

It’s the same about making what you love a job. Sometimes it’ll fuck you up. Sometimes it’ll make you happy.

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thalendor

Yeah, I orignally wanted to be a programmer because I wanted to make games. But as I got older, I decided it just wouldn’t be as much fun to create them as play them, especially considering that when I was going through college game development was notorious for long hours and low job security (honestly not sure if that’s changed much or not). I ended up doing database development for medical software… not as sexy as game development, perhaps, but I have a feeling I’m happier for the decision to not pursue that childhood dream.

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Jacobin GW

Playing games doesn’t have much in common programming them. What drives people to become so hardcore is competition – getting the adrenaline rush of beating a skilled opponent, being at the top of the ladder, winning a tournament.

Games development is a completely different experience that is mostly tedious and monotonous.