Following ESPN eSports’ latest reports regarding the future of the North American League Championship Series and members being declined permanent partner positions, there is likely to be a fire sale of top-tier talent.
As the League of Legends 2017 season climaxes with the World Championship, the application process for the 2018 NA LCS franchise is reaching to its own dramatic conclusion.
Ahead of the 2018 season, the pre-existing cohort of participants was forced to apply for permanent partner positions and it soon became clear that not all of the current organizations would be accepted.
News on which teams have been declined is already emerging, each story met with mixed results from the community. Currently, three NA LCS organizations have already been notified of their rejection, including Phoenix1, Team EnVyUs, and Team Dignitas.
In addition, North American Challenger Series members Gold Coin United and EUnited have also been informed they will not be permanent members.
Between these five organizations, there is significant talent whose signatures will be up for grabs, with the potential to dramatically alter the power dynamics of the NA LCS.
The plethora of available talent is excellent news for the current organizations who have been granted permanent partnerships and have significant roster issues to fix.
A recent example is the reigning NA LCS champion Team SoloMid, who has widespread criticism following their exit from the World Championship, centred around the play of their current jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen.
The loss of multiple current LCS organizations could open up opportunities for a big name signing that would never have been available previously.
Among the options for TSM could be the reigning ‘Rookie of the Split’ Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung, an aggressive jungler with resident status who could provide a much-needed spark and playmaking presence.
Along similar lines, the North American champions could turn to current Team EnVyUs jungler and team leader Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo.
Less successful organizations could find even greater impact in some of the available talent. Team Liquid has spent the majority of the season tinkering with their starting roster, trying to avoid relegations and find some semblance of success.
With the loss of many current organizations, there should now be an abundance of options for teams such as Team Liquid to consider when looking forward to the 2018 season.
While it is true many of these players may be absorbed into the new franchises, the period of free agency preceding the roster finalisation could see many old faces find new organizations.
In tandem with new rules governing player salaries, it could also drive the asking price for talent to a level never seen before.
In addition to their main rosters, unsigned players provide an opportunity for LCS franchises to begin building their academy teams as well. Teams will have the chance to ground their academy rosters with veteran leadership while trying to foster young talent.
With a number of new organizations scrambling to fill their starting lineup and academy teams, the demand for LCS-calibre talent will have never been higher. This could place star players such as Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho in a position where they will be handsomely paid as multiple suitors vie for his services.
Regardless of the team or player, this off-season is sure to be filled with many surprises and multiple transfers. When the dust finally settles, old organizations may look very different from their 2017 incarnations.
When the free agency period starts on November 21st, expect the unexpected, as teams look to build the foundation of their franchises for years to come.