When it comes to the future of European League of Legends, London is seemingly the place to be.
Following the announcement that Riot Games would attempt to breathe new life into the European scene by breaking up the EU LCS into four smaller regions, the currently-competing teams have all outlined the future homes for their brands.
The four organisations who previously expressed a desire to become part of the franchised NA LCS – Fnatic, G2 eSports, Misfits and Splyce – have all asked to compete in England’s capital city.
Unicorns of Love, FC Schalke 04 eSports and Team ROCCAT have chosen to maintain their current infrastructure in Berlin. H2K-Gaming and Giants Gaming have chosen to set up their operations in Barcelona, leaving French organisation, Team Vitality, as the only current EU LCS competitor to opt for Paris.
These city choices are not yet locked in, as both teams and Riot have the option to change and block the location choices respectively.
The four regional leagues will need to round out their participants up to a total of six teams each, leaving Paris with the most work to do, given the five slots remaining.
Expected teams to fill out the leagues include an array of existing League of Legends teams outside of the EU LCS, from both the current Challenger Series and peripheral European eSports leagues, in addition to new entrepreneurs who are interested in the opportunity to enter the League of Legends scene, such a venture capitalist groups and traditional sports clubs.
It is understood that these teams will benefit from a softer form of the franchising process set to be implemented in North America, meaning no relegation and more stability.
Riot Games had previously shied away from franchising in Europe on account of the region’s sporting culture’s history with relegation systems.
The top teams from each domestic league will qualify for the ‘greater league’, set to run alongside the competitive seasons of the domestic league, similar to the manner in which the Champions League operates in European football (soccer).
Fueling a new-look EU LCS with national pride may provide the much-needed injection of personality and excitement the league has been lacking, utilising Europe’s cultural diversity to its advantage.
Notably, however, ESPN eSports’ original report makes no mention of a proposed revenue share agreement, the ultimate deal-breaker for European organisations.
Though the majority of the newly-formed regional allegiances coincide with either the organisations’ origins or team headquarters, the notable exceptions to this rule are G2 eSports and H2K-Gaming.
Despite their headquarters being based in Berlin, G2 eSports has seemingly formed a ‘band of brothers’ with the other teams that applied to join the NA LCS.
This decision was potentially influenced by the opportunity to reach an English speaking audience, whilst maintaining a high level of competition and practice against the top-tier talent of the current EU LCS.
H2K-Gaming’s decision is more curious, especially considering that their headquarters is based in London, seemingly the most popular league location. Given the organisation recent post regarding their dire financial situation, their decision to relocate to Barcelona may be economically orientated.
Though Berlin will see much of its heavyweight talent depart overseas, the league should remain competitive, given the wealth of challenger talent that exists to fill out the slots around fan favourites such as the Unicorns of Love.
The outlook is certainly bleakest for Paris, though Team Vitality might not be complaining. The French organisation now stands a genuine chance of actually winning something.