To buy into this video gaming league, it's at least $10 million

Video games have been popular for more than 30 years, but competitive gaming, or esports, has recently emerged as a spectator activity that can draw thousands of attendees and viewers.

The owners who are participating in the league now demonstrate a basic level of business competence, fitting enough to all have a chance to participate in the franchised version of the league. They will help found a Players' Association (a union, essentially), to provide access to core resources such as training, financial planning and legal advice, and with elected reps to speak for the pros in league decisions. The word used by Riot was "escalated penalties" for teams who consistently finish 9th or 10th place more than 5 times over an 8-split span. It will take the shape of the National Basketball Association D-League, with teams who have secured franchises in the NA LCS sending players they have signed to compete in training for eventual promotion to the NA LCS roster.

Finally: rest in peace NA Challenger Series, 2013-2017.

The League Championship Series franchise system was outlined a year ago, but has been on the esports radar for a while.

Revenue sharing is another major part of the evolution of the league.

The most interesting part of the announcement is, of course, revenue sharing. We also believe that the league is healthiest when teams, players, and Riot are all motivated to create a thriving, entertaining league that's popular with fans. In the same vein, teams will be required to share a portion of their league-driven revenues as well (including things like sponsorships and merch sales).

Additionally, the terms of the system, including the $10 million buy-in, the 32.5 percent revenue sharing to teams and the 35 percent to players seem fair across the panel.

It will also decrease the financial blow of the franchise fee by spreading it out over time. It also adds that "players will earn their full salary throughout the year, and if the players' share of league revenue is greater than their combined salaries for the year, the difference will be distributed to the players directly" - if it's less, then players won't lose any money themselves.

It will be months before any real detail on the new NA LCS is known, and years before judgements can really be made on whether the franchising process has been a positive transformation for the league and for esports more generally.

Lastly, a Players' Association is also being set up, with players voting for independent representatives to give them a voice.

"Kickstarting an association which independently represents pro players is a complex process - legally and organizationally", Riot wrote. With the new partnership program in place, Riot will be upping the minimum salary for NA LCS pros to $75,000.

  • Arturo Norris