League of Legends Franchising
Franchising very much seems to be the future of modern Esports, for better or for worse. Every year tends to see at least one game switch to the franchise model, as well as all of the effects and implications that come with that.
Most recently, Call of Duty switched to said model much to the ire of pretty much the entire community. With a staggering $25 million price tag strapped to a league spot, viewers and players were more than disappointed to actually see a decrease in production value, not an increase.
Overwatch before that hasn’t really been helped much by franchising, with the game being dead to rights in the face of growing competition.
League of Legends, however, is one game that did not suffer tremendously at the effect of the franchise model being introduced.
Having been established in 2018, League has only grown in quality and production value. At least, in the case of the LCS.
That wasn’t the case initially, though. Like pretty much every other Esports title to be franchised, League faced a heavy amount of pushback and criticism in 2018 when the changes were introduced.
In particular, the NA LCS dropped the ball when the transition was made. In particular, it drew criticism for the quality of its broadcasts, as well as the seeming lack of big-player sponsors. The League didn’t particularly change much about itself, despite the influx of extra cash that the organizers now had to utilize.
Conversely, the EU LCS went overboard with a rebranding that completely reinvented the European League. It came out with new graphics and images, as well as an overhaul to the broadcasting structure, including new segments.
On top of that, the EU LCS, now known as the LEC, drew in some seriously notable parties as sponsors. In particular, the major gas corporation Shell.
While a lot of the changes on both sides of the pond didn’t stick around long after its inception, it’s fair to say that the LEC has done a better job with the League than the LCS has.
This two region dynamic is perhaps what sets League apart from other franchised Esports that only have one world league. It serves as a way to introduce internal competition, so each region is going to want to outdo the other.
Regardless of the quality or how you feel about it, franchising gives your favorite competitive pros a safety net that they otherwise wouldn’t have. It offers stability far beyond what is typical for an Esports career, and that is more valuable than any production.