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Volume 25 No. 45
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Riot Games Exec Talks LCS Expansion, Ways To Grow League

Riot Games would "love to bring more teams" into its League Championship Series, but there are a "few checks to make sure that everyone is ready for such a commitment," according to Patrick Shanley of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Riot Games Head of North American Esports Chris Hopper said, "There needs to be sufficient competitive depth to the player pool so that an expansion won’t result in two lackluster teams being formed. Additionally, we need to make sure that the economics make sense." On what makes "League of Legends" a compelling game for esports, Hopper said, "It’s a game that you can aspire to emulate pro behavior; I can watch a match and hope to pull off a Zed combo like Faker, but I watch Aaron Rodgers throw a touchdown pass and know I couldn’t replicate it if I tried." Hopper on what sets LCS apart said, "Since the official launch of the LCS in 2013, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful league, and we’ve been able to bring these lessons to the 14 different leagues we run around the world, supporting almost 1,000 pros globally. We’ve spent years refining our systems, processes and teams, so that our foundations are solid, and that gave us the comfort to go through a franchising process in 2017." On the players salaries in LCS, Hopper said, "The variance is pretty wide but, on average, the starting NA LCS player salary is $320,000-plus, with over 70 percent of those players on multiyear contracts." Hopper said the longterm goal for growth of the LCS is to "continue gaining viewers." Hopper: "There is a much larger population of gamers to draw from, and I believe it’s not unreasonable to convert sports fans into 'LoL' e-sports fans" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 5/24).

PALM OF YOUR HAND: VARIETY's Todd Spangler notes ESPN+ is carrying "LoL" live esports tournaments and events -- "starting with next month’s North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split." However, ESPN+ "won’t have exclusive rights" to the “LoL” programming, which will "continue to be distributed on Amazon-owned Twitch and other platforms." The question is how much the live “LoL” competitions will "enhance the appeal of ESPN+." Given that the coverage will be "available elsewhere for free, esports fans don’t need to subscribe to ESPN+ to catch the action" (VARIETY.com, 5/25).

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.