EU LCS franchising has caused quite a stir so far, enough to distract fans even during Worlds 2018.
Just days ago it was reported that EU LCS veteran orgs H2k and Splyce would not be returning to the league for its franchising in 2019. While fans expected some level of this with the NA LCS move to franchising for reference, it was a sudden blow.
This time, however, leaks reveal five EU LCS orgs to be returning to the league, successfully competing for and purchasing their franchising slots from a long line of competitors.
These teams are Fnatic, G2 Esports, Misfits, Schalke 04, and Team Vitality.
Making the cut
All of these teams have proven competitive in the EU LCS at some point in their histories, though Schalke 04 is a bit behind the pack here. In comparing the successful histories of Splyce and H2k, fans might feel this transition is unfair to the teams that've helped bring the league to where it is. But as we know by now, franchising is about much more than League of Legends history.
As we saw with NA LCS franchising, a history of success is simply not enough to earn a franchising slot. Qualifications from Riot include financial stability, a commitment to growth, and quality brand image. We saw dominant NA champion Immortals cut from the pack along with veterans Dignitas just a year ago, and we're seeing the beginnings of this transition in Europe.
But we now have five teams that made the cut.
While the teams returning to the EU LCS in 2019 aren't much of a surprise, fans will be relieved to see their flagship orgs carry on the fight for European League of Legends. Fnatic, G2, and Vitality are even actively representing the EU LCS in Worlds 2018, so it's only natural they pulled it off.
By qualifying for franchise slots, these orgs have proven themselves reliable competitors and businesses that the EU LCS is confident in to carry the league forward. Well, on top of a reported 8 million euro payment plan, of course.
Franchising will be much like NA's model including a shared revenue pool for teams, and a bump to play salaries along with it.
Despite taking an initial stand against the franchising model for Europe in favor of the relegation system, the league hopes franchising will bring more consistent growth, and we can only wait and see how it goes. If other leagues are any indication, though, we can expect success.
Did your team make the cut? How do you feel about EU LCS' franchising decisions so far? Let us know in the comments below!