NA LCS Franchising
- 1 Announcement
- 2 Mid-Flight Update
- 3 Rumored teams
- 4 Finalised teams
- 5 References
On June 1, 2017, Riot Games officially announced changes to the NA LCS for the upcoming 2018 season.
Changing League Structure
Starting in 2018, teams that participate in the NA LCS will be there as permanent partners of the league. Teams will be selected from an application process and no longer have to face relegation or the promotion tournament. Additionally, the Challenger Series will be rebooted as an Academy League, where each NA LCS organization will field a team of developmental players.
Sharing League Revenue
Teams selected into the NA LCS will also enter into a revenue-sharing partnership with Riot Games. League-based revenues including media deals, team-branded digital goods, sponsorships and merchandise sales will be shared among the teams and Riot. Only a portion of revenues that a team makes is added to the revenue pool.
NA LCS teams will be entitled to a 32.5% share of league revenues. Half of the pool will be distributed equally to each organization, but the other half will be split into allocations based on regular season finish and contribution to viewership/fan engagement.
Additionally, the minimum salary for NA LCS pro players will be increased from $25,000 to $75,000. Player salaries will also be guaranteed through their contracts, but the total play population will also be guaranteed to earn at least 35% of league revenues. 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
Protecting the Pros
A Players' Association will be also be set up to provide centralized representation for players in tri-party negotiations (Riot-Owners-Players) and to provide access to vetted resources (e.g. legal/financial advice) to help players planning out their careers. The launch of the Association will be funded by Riot, however the players vote on and elect independent represenatatives. The goal is that this Association is an independent voice of the players to work with Riot and the teams.
In an interview with Yahoo Esports, co-head of esports at Riot Games Whalen Rozelle and co-head of esports and head of merchandising Jarred Kennedy announced that there would be a flat buy-in fee of $10 million for selected teams, with $5 million paid up front and the rest deferred.
Applications from EU LCS teams
Following the annoucement of franchising for NA LCS, Riot also announced that there were no plans for EU LCS to move towards a franchise model. ocelote mentioned on the "Esports Salon" podcast that G2 Esports, winner of the recent EU LCS Spring season, may consider applying for an NA LCS franchise spot and futher clarifies his position in a reddit response A few months later, it was reported that four EU LCS teams including G2 Esports, Fnatic, Splyce and Misfits have applied for an NA LCS franchise spot.
On September 23, 2017, Riot Games posted a mid-flight update detailing the application and selection process for teams chosen for the 2018 season.
The 2018 NA LCS season will continue with 10 teams despite considerations to contract the league to 8 teams or expand to 12 teams.
Groups that do not include a team that was part of the NA LCS or NA Challenger Series in the 2017 Summer Split will pay an additional $3m transition fee (on top of the $5 million upfront portion of the buy-in fee).
The $3m transition fees will be pooled and paid out to teams that were part of the NA LCS or NA Challenger Series in the 2017 Summer Split and either did not apply or were not selected for the LCS in 2018. Teams will be paid according to a formula that takes length of involvement and league into consideration, with 3 shares of the overall pool for each split they were involved in the LCS and 1 share for each split they were involved in the Challenger Series, with a cap of 10 shares for any team. Splits are counted from the beginning of the last major change in ownership of a team.
Declined teams process
Teams that did not apply or are not selected to be part of the LCS in 2018 will have the opportunity to sell their player contracts to teams that are entering the league or remaining in the league (or to international teams), or they can release their players into free agency. New and remaining teams will be able to buy these contracts or sign new players starting at the opening of the free agency signing window on November 21, 2017.
All teams no longer a part of the league will be required to sell all of their player contracts and/or release all of their players in order to be eligible for the exit fee described above.
Players' Association update
As voted by pros after presentations by several groups at the Players Summit in July, the NA LCS Players Association is headed up by Hal Biagas as Executive Director.
The group's first move will be to agree on a Players Association constitution - a basic set of guiding principles as to what they intend to accomplish and what their values are as a group. The PA will then elect player leaders to represent the association and provide input on the 2018 League Structure/Operations.
Rumored denied teams
- Team Dignitas
- Team EnVyUs
- G2 Esports
Rumored selected teams
- Counter Logic Gaming
- Echo Fox
- Team SoloMid
- Team Liquid
- OpTic Gaming
- Golden State Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob and his son Kirk Lacob's team branded as Golden Guardians
- Cleveland Cavaliers' esports division branded as 100 Thieves
- Houston Rockets' esports division branded as Clutch Gaming (originally Clutch City Gaming)
Controversy arose when it was reported on October 19, 2017 that Immortals had been rejected from the 2018 NA LCS selection process. The article came out just one week after the team had finished representing the NA LCS in the 2017 World Championship and upon hearing the news, members of the team reacted with shock on Twitter.      
Having entered in the scene in late 2015 at the same time as Echo Fox (who was rumored to have been accepted in the same article) and having acquired a new investor in the months prior, the news came as a surprise to most followers. Fans were further shocked when it was announced that FlyQuest, who only entered NA LCS at the beginning of 2017, was accepted over Immortals. Initially, it was reported this decision was due to Immortals' investment in Blizzard's Overwatch League and the conflict of interest between their Los Angeles team and the NA LCS studio location. It was later reported that Immortals had been declined due to concerns about their finances.
In the aftermath of the event, Immortals released Olleh from his contract  and it was rumoured that Team Liquid had acquired the contract rights to players Xmithie, Pobelter, Cody Sun and AnDa . It was also reported that coach SSONG was picked up by Team SoloMid..
On November 20, 2017, Riot Games announced the finalised list of 10 teams for the 2018 NA LCS season:.
- 100 Thieves
- Clutch Gaming
- Counter Logic Gaming
- Echo Fox
- Golden Guardians
- OpTic Gaming
- Team SoloMid
- Team Liquid
- Riot Games (2017-06-01). "Evolution of the NA LCS".
- Travis Gafford (2017-06-01). "Riot Games, Immortals CEO, and TSM owner discuss $10 million buy-in for NA LCS permanent partnership". Yahoo Esports.
- Riot Games (2017-06-01). "EU LCS Update".
- Thorin (2017-06-08). "Esports Salon Ep 8: LCS Franchising Era (feat. Reginald, ocelote and HotshotGG)".
- G2ocelote (2017-06-10). "ocelote responds on reddit". Reddit.
- Xing Li (2017-08-02). "4 EU LCS teams have reportedly applied to join the NA LCS". Dot Esports.
- Riot Games (2017-09-23). "Mid-Flight Update on Our Selection Process for NA LCS 2018".
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-15). "Sources: Dignitas' League of Legends Championship Series franchising application declined". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-18). "Sources: Phoenix1 and Team Envy League Championship Series franchise applications denied". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-19). "Immortals out, Echo Fox in for the NA LCS, sources say". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-19). "G2 Esports, Splyce, Fnatic and Misfits denied". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-18). "Sources: Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming to rejoin NA LCS". ESPN.
- Josh Bury, Gabriel Zoltan-Johan (2017-10-20). "Sources: FlyQuest accepted into the 2018 NA LCS". theScore esports.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-17). "Sources: OpTic Gaming to join North American League Championship Series". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-13). "Sources: Warriors co-owner lands League of Legends franchise spot". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-11-17). "Sources: Warriors-owned League of Legends team to be called Golden Guardians". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-20). "Cleveland Cavaliers accepted as NA LCS franchise". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-11-15). "Sources: Rockets, Cavs choose League of Legends franchise brands". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-10-20). "Sources: North American League Championship Series team roster finalized with Houston Rockets". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-11-20). "The Houston Rockets have decided to go with Clutch Gaming". ESPN.
- @Cody_Sun1 (2017-10-19). "Cody Sun twitter reaction". Twitter.
- @Pobelter (2017-10-19). "Pobelter twitter reaction". Twitter.
- @FlameKR (2017-10-19). "Flame twitter reaction". Twitter.
- @JJOOSUNG (2017-10-19). "Olleh twitter reaction". Twitter.
- @Xmithie (2017-10-19). "Xmithie twitter reaction". Twitter.
- @Immortals (2017-10-19). "IMT twitter reaction". Twitter.
- @Imad Khan (2017-06-21). "AEG makes big investment in Immortals, will call L.A. Live home". ESPN.
- @jjoosunge (2017-11-16). "Olleh announces free agency". Facebook.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-11-19). "Sources: Team Liquid has acquired contract rights for Xmithie, Pobelter, Cody Sun and AnDa". ESPN.
- Jacob Wolf (2017-11-19). "Team SoloMid bringing on coach SSONG for 2018 season, sources say". ESPN.
- Riot Games (2017-11-20). "A NEW ERA BEGINS".