Last week, the LCSPA, which represents professional League of Legends players in North America, called for a strike vote. The decision came as a result of Riot Games gutting the second tier of professional League of Legends in the region, leading to the loss of over 70 jobs.
The strike authorization vote overwhelmingly passed on May 28, meaning that the league’s 50 presumptive starters would not be taking the stage for the start of the Summer Split on June 1. However, Riot did not immediately cancel or delay the split. Instead, the billion-dollar game studio scrapped a few key regulations in order to make it easier for teams to sign replacement rosters. The LCSPA hit back, urging any players receiving offers from LCS teams to stand in solidarity with the union. Furthermore, a number of influential figures in the amateur and semi-pro scenes indicated that they would be taking note of any players who crossed the picket.
Season Delayed But Riot Holding Firm
In a statement released May 30, Global Head of League of Legends Esports Naz Aletaha announced that Riot had chosen to delay the start of the LCS Summer split by two weeks. “We ultimately decided that it would not hold true to our values that Riot’s esports offers our players and fans a showcase for the best competitive League of Legends. Nothing but putting the best players in North America on the stage at Riot Games Arena is acceptable. So we informed LCSPA leadership today that we will delay the LCS season for the next two weeks.”
However, that’s where the generosity towards the union stopped. Despite saying that Riot wanted to start a “productive dialogue between the LCSPA, teams, and the league,” the statement also included a public rejection of all of the demands set forth by the LCSPA. Furthermore, Riot openly threatened to cancel the entire LCS season, eliminating LCS teams from eligibility at Worlds 2023, if the work stoppage extended beyond two weeks. In short, Riot made it very clear that they were willing to dole out any punishment they saw fit if the union didn’t capitulate and surrender. As a result of these threats, the LCSPA has publicly said they have asked Riot for daily meetings to find an equitable solution. This is a developing story and we’ll have any updates here at HotNewHipHop.