After a very eventful season in which the company battled various types of allegations, Riot Games is now attempting to move forward into the next one with a brand new zest for life and business. And one of the things it has already announced as part of its plans is the rebranding of the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS) to League of Legends European Championship (LEC).
The Old Gods And The New
Riot’s decision comes as a result of new teams joining the league and old ones being removed from it. From the organizations that took part in the 2018's competitive season, we’re left with the following 6:
- G2 Esports
- Schalke 04
- Team Vitality
All of these teams will pay a $9.2 million fee, which is quite a lot all things considered. But it’s still less than what the new ones will have to pay: a whopping $12 million. The teams who have offered to pay that amount in order to be allowed to play in this prestigious league are the following:
- exceL Esports
- SK Gaming
Out of these 4, exceL Esports, Origen and SK Gaming are known teams who have been around for 3+ years and have had some level of success, mostly in minor tournaments. We’ve yet to see what they can do against their very powerful opponents from this region, who are no doubt above their skill level in almost every case.
Keep in mind that Europe is one of the strongest regions in League of Legends at the moment. At Worlds 2018, Fnatic finished in 2nd place after a superb run all the way to the Grand Final.
League of Legends European League LEC - A Change In Brand
The new name for the EU LCS league will be League of Legends European Championship (LEC). Along with the name, the logo and the rest of the brand identity elements will change too.
Now, you might think: what’s the difference? And what’s the reason behind this change?
As stated on their website, RIOT wanted to have this league move away for its previous LCS branding, and have it obtain its very own identity. This way, one can look at the NA LCS and the LEC as two separate entities, clearly identifiable by their brand differences such as the logo, uniqueness as well as their attitude.
Well, it may seem like a small thing, but the new name actually makes it easier for outsiders to understand what this is about. While EU LCS may sound very familiar to League of Legends players and enthusiasts, to an outsider this title doesn’t mean anything. I’m pretty sure that the name “League of Legends” is much more popular than “EU LCS”. The first is recognizable by a lot of people who may have never even played or watched a single match, while the second one is just community jargon.
Figures And Dates
The first season of LEC will start on January 18, 2019. That’s roughly 2 months from now. The total amount that will be paid in total by the 10 members of this league is around $106 million. For any other esport, that would be a huge amount at this point. However, because of LoL’s business model and its huge player base (100+ million), it will most likely be worthwhile for these organizations to pay this substantial amount in exchange for a spot in the league.
The old members of the EU LCS league, now LEC, will sign new contracts and enter new agreements with Riot Games. Among the changes, some are very significant and greatly benficial for the players. For instance, the minimum salary will increase from 24.000 Euro to 60.000 Euro. That’s an increase of 150%.
Of course, keep in mind that this is the minimum salary. It’s not uncommon for top esports professionals to make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, from their team contracts alone. Not to mention the fact that in some esports, such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, some players have now become so popular that they are featured in commercials for various products and brands.
Esports as a whole truly is getting bigger and with this growth comes a lot of recognition for its main stage heroes. Their rockstar aura is becoming more and more a thing for gamers worldwide. And with tournament organizers constantly improving their ability to enhance the show element of each event, it’s expected that this phenomenon will imitate its counterpart from the sports industry.
The changes will likely be well received, as they allow each organization to have a greater degree of control and a better interaction with Riot Games. Here’s what Nicolas Maurer, the CEO of Team Vitality, had to say about the upcoming changes:
Being a commercial partner, instead of having that kind of relationship in the past where Riot decided, and teams had to follow through, that was not very healthy. Working directly with Riot is a welcome change. From a team owner and communication perspective, it creates an environment where we work together for the same goals. Even if we compete on the field, or in different games.
Another reaction came from Amish Shah, ReKTGlobal's founder:
League of Legends is massive – it’s one of the biggest games in the world with more than 5 billion hours watched during the 2018 World Championship. We can't wait to be one of the founding teams for the European region and to hit the ground running – and winning. Between the expertise and experience of our new leadership team in the LEC, we’re confident in the success that Rogue is capable of in its inaugural 2019 season.
Early Predictions For The New Season
The new season is still 2 months away but I can already anticipate a fairly one-sided battle at the top of LEC in 2019. That’s because of the following 2 reasons:
- As I mentioned before, the newly added teams do not seem capable of challenging the established ones. Sure, they may have some small achievements under their belt, but it’s nothing compared to the likes of the other teams already in the league. The only one of the 4 new teams that could pose a threat is Origen. Everyone else will probably be a snack for the top contenders.
- Three of the teams who will take part in the next season of LEC took part in Worlds 2018 and finished in very good positions: 2nd place for Fnatic, 3rd – 4th place for G2 Esports and 9th – 12th place for Team Vitality. These results place Fnatic, G2 Esports and Team Vitality way above everyone else in the world, let alone the League of Legends European Championship.
Of course, surprises are not out of the question and you can never truly know the real pecking order until the league starts and the teams start facing each other. One aspect that can make a huge difference is the general match format that will be used. In 2018, a Bo1 format was used and it made things very volatile at times, with competitors such as Team Vitality going on long winning and losing streaks.
Personally, I would like to see a Bo3 format being used for the new season, as it makes the matches easier to predict. An underdog may beat a top contender once in a Bo3, but rarely twice.