In an unprecedented move for the industry, pro League of Legends players have voted to strike, disrupting official events organised by developer and tournament organiser Riot Games.
The decision to strike was made on May 28th in the first ever strike authorisation vote held by the North American Players Union (NALCSPA), an association made up of the top League of Legend players, in response to Riot Games removing a rule that required top-level teams to field teams in the lower leagues. This rule change would damage the ease of talent scouting and job opportunities for coaches, players, and managers, and also the future of the sport. The inability for lower league teams to receive mentoring and opportunities from those at the top of the sport harms the development of the lower leagues and the progression of players to the top ranks.
Initially Riot Games’s response to the strike was to allow teams to field replacement players to fulfil the roles of those striking. This would allow teams to find scab workers if necessary to continue the summer season. However many content creators for the game and the NALCSPA have encouraged players to show solidarity to the strike, which has seen support.
As of now, Riot Games has announced that they will be pushing back the start of the summer season by 2 weeks to allow talks with the union to take place. While they have expressed interest in a “productive dialogue” they have rejected the union’s request for the company to show more support to the lower leagues.
Riot Games have also given an ultimatum to the union, either come to a resolution by the end of the 2 weeks or the summer season for League of Legends will be cancelled. This will see a detrimental impact to the livelihood of all who work for the competitive league.
This is the first strike to be performed by a group of eSport players in history. Regardless of the success of the strike, the precedent of players striking and showing solidarity against event organisers has been set. The groundwork for the ability of competitive gamers to strike has been set and time will tell whether other eSports scenes will see similar actions against companies and organisers who aim to abuse the burgeoning industry.
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