US video game developer Riot Games is set to introduce a franchise system for its European League of Legends Championship Series amid a raft of proposed changes that aim to bring it in line with its North American counterpart.
Riot announced the reforms in a blog post yesterday (Monday), stating it was keen to move its focus from the rolling out of long-term partnerships in North America. ESPN.com said Riot will begin accepting applications in Europe for permanent partnership from existing ownership and interested outside parties next year.
Citing sources, it added that the number of slots and the buy-in price for both existing and non-existing franchises has not been determined. The league currently has 10 teams in the shape of Fnatic, G2 Esports, Giants Gaming, H2K Gaming, Misfits, FC Schalke 04 Esports, Splyce, Team ROCCAT, Team Vitality and Unicorns of Love.
These teams will have to compete against potential new entrants for the new franchises commencing from 2019, with those that prove unsuccessful reportedly set to receive compensation for losing their place. ESPN.com added that Riot has taken a significant interest in professional football clubs in Europe, which it hopes applies for franchise ownership.
ESPN added that the European League Championship Series will remain headquartered in Berlin, Germany, with previous plans to split the league into four regions based in Berlin, London, Paris and Barcelona under an expanded 24-team format having been dropped.
In its blog post, Riot added that it will also end the existing Challenger Series in favour of introducing a new pan-European tournament involving local country teams.
Riot said: “It’s our long-term goal to move to a system in which pro players, teams and Riot share in the success of the league together and build towards a stable future. In the short-term, teams are facing increasing challenges when it comes to financial health and investing in team infrastructure and therefore we’ll be taking steps to create more immediate security and stability.”