ESPN has reported that Riot Games has accepted five teams as franchise partners for the European League of Legends Championship Series. Sources confirmed to ESPN that G2 Esports, Fnatic, Misfits, Schalke 04 Esports, and Team Vitality were accepted into the series. Riot Games has not responded or announced these teams yet.
According to ESPN‘s sources Splyce and H2K Gaming were denied franchise slots, while the other five were accepted. Franchise slots cost nearly $10 million over a multi-year contract, while abandoning systems that would allow smaller “challenger” teams to compete. When Riot announced the franchising news it said it is working to develop a series that will help grow talent for the EU LCS.
Fnatic has been with the EU LCS since it began in 2013, with the others following in the intervening years. Riot Games, developers of League of Legends and overseer of the Championship series, is turning the EU LCS into a franchised series starting in 2019.
Franchised teams are now entitled to nearly one-third of the league revenue pool that includes sponsorships, broadcasting rights, and other revenue channels. The move includes revenue sharing between the league, teams, and individual players.
Franchising was oft-requested by EU LCS teams as a way to make their teams more profitable and to show equal support to the region. The North American LCS moved to a franchise system in 2017, and several European teams applied to compete in the NA circuit at the time. Those teams were denied, and Riot Games announced the EU LCS franchising in March 2018.
Riot Games’ League of Legends has been a dominant force in esports since the early 2010s. The European League of Legends Championship Series began in 2013, alongside the North American series. EU LCS broadcasts regularly attract hundreds of thousands of viewers online, and sponsorships with major brands. The free-to-play MOBA is also one of the most played video games of all time, and had over 1 million concurrent players in 2011. The game became a phenomenon, and it shows few signs of slowing down.