The LCS Players Association (LCSPA) announced late Sunday evening that players “overwhelmingly” voted to approve a walkout. The vote and decision by players were made in response to Riot Games announcing earlier this month that it would no longer require LCS teams to operate a North America Challengers League (NACL) roster.
What was not disclosed was the final vote tally, which would have indicated one way or the other just how many players actually voted for it and if that number was overwhelmingly for the measure. Sources have given us a number but because we have not been able to independently confirm it we have decided not to publish it as of this writing. If the vote tally we have is true, calling it “overwhelmingly” in favor of the measure would be accurate.
The Esports Advocate has reached out LCSPA Executive Director Philip Aram, Riot Games, and all current teams in the LCS for further comment, and will update this story should more information become available.
Employees have legal rights under the law in most states to stage a walkout or a strike, and 1099 or contracted players may have limited rights in progressive states like California, but mileage varies in other states. On the federal level, the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the legal right to “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection,” but the law is fairly murky when it comes to independent contractors, of which some players on LCS teams are categorized as, because state and federal laws focus almost exclusively on the rights of employees. Employment status (full-time or contracted) varies from team to team, though, and Riot only requires that teams have players sign a player services agreement and provide other documentation that proves eligibility for employment within the United States.
While teams whose players decide to walkout just as LCS competition begins on Thursday could hypothetically face fines (in the tens-of-thousands of dollars range) from the LCS because they will have to forfeit games, it would be surprising if Riot enforced the rules on this. Players that are under contract could similarly be punished for being in breach of contract, but teams that punish players would likely face an incredible amount of public pushback in doing so.
Last week the LCSPA issued the following list of demands to Riot/LCS:
Ultimately Riot Games and the NALCSPA will have to come to some terms to avert this walkout or face the political and financial consequences publicly together. While some fans have expressed solidarity with players, other fans who have made plans for in-person events might not be as understanding about the entire situation…
TEA will continue to follow this story as it develops.