In this opinion piece, Cameron Peberdy shares his thoughts on the competitive League of Legends scene in the UK and what can be done to push it forwards.
What kind of improvements does the UK League of Legends scene need to progress from an amateur environment to a more professional one?
Throughout this article I am going to convey my thoughts on why the UK scene is not in the best of places, focusing on the issue of player poaching, player contracts and event prize pools.
At the highest level of competition there is the LCS and the Challenger Series - a precursor to getting into the LCS.
ESL is where the top players in the United Kingdom play and compete; the most recent ESL event saw Team Infused coming out on top, winning the £2,500 top prize (while the overall ESL prize pool stood at £10,000, £5,000 of that was distributed in the finals, and the other £5,000 throughout the season).
The £2,500 winnings for a team which includes five players, a coach, manager and analysts is not enough to foster the sustainability of organisation, in my opinion, unless you are constantly winning events.
The small prize pool is one of the reasons in which many ESL teams and players last only one split. Those that can continue to compete, like Team Infused, are the ones who regularly win events throughout the UK.
I believe the UK League of Legends eSports scene is currently at an amateur/semi professional level, because there is not any incentive for top UK players to play - other than to earn some extra money.
In a recent interview with eSports News UK, Tundra of FM-Esports said: “Team rosters change all the time. Players come and go. They are poached. They don't have contracts.”
I believe the reason that teams do not stay in the ESL UK Premiership for longer than a season is they cannot keep their roster filled. This can be attributed to player poaching, a lack of player contracts and a small prize pool.
In my opinion, Riot Games should extend its rules and regulations that are imposed upon LCS teams to its affiliate partners such as ESL.
It will show more of an interest from Riot, sponsors may stump up more cash and event organisers may provide more support.
I believe if LCS rules were to be imposed upon top level competitions in the UK, such as the ESL Premiership, it would allow for player contracts (which make sure teams have a full roster from one season to another), therefore competition will be higher between the teams.
With a higher prize pool, player contracts and anti-poaching rules and regulations, organisations and players will have more of an incentive to compete. And in turn this will foster more homegrown organisations in the UK.
Player poaching will decrease, players will have contracts that they must abide by and therefore teams will have a concrete roster for more than one split.
I believe that if all of this was to come together, a higher prize pool would mean SoloQ games will be taken more seriously and eventually the UK scene may go in the direction of Korean SoloQ i.e. where SoloQ and national tournaments are treated with higher regard, and greater respect. Because of this, the UK player base will naturally want to compete more seriously, and the scene can only benefit from this.
Image credit: Player photo credit: ESL | eslgaming.com, S.Choucino