Riot Games announced Wednesday that it has named Mark “MarkZ” Zimmerman as the new League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) commissioner for 2024. Zimmerman replaces Jackie Felling—who left the role in April—and will report directly to Riot’s Head of League of Legends Esports – Americas, Carlos Antunes. Attunes is also relatively new to his role—he was appointed to that role in August. Antunes has nearly a decade of experience in leading League of Legends leagues in Brazil, including Campeonato Brasileiro de League of Legends (CBLOL) and Latin America Liga Latinoamérica (LLA).
Zimmerman has served as on-air talent and as a color analyst for the LCS, and has worked for Team Liquid and Curse in the past in various roles, but he is likely best known as the co-host of Hotline League, an LCS-focused video call-in show alongside content creator Travis Gafford.
In a video posted Tuesday announcing his new role, Zimmerman said that he would spend the remainder of 2023 learning the role, preparing for the 2024 season, and remaining mostly silent publicly—though he did note he will spend time interacting with the community at large. Riot has a general policy that new hires are not available to the media immediately after an appointment.
Riot also announced that the LCS would return to a weekend format for broadcasts; in 2023 it experimented with running broadcasts and competitions on weekdays (Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays), but the format got a mixed reaction from fans.
The 2024 season will kick off on Jan. 20, 2024, will feature eight franchised teams instead of 10 and will welcome Shopify Rebellion—who bought TSM’s slot back in September for an estimated $10M – $15M USD and recently signed players from Disguised Toast’s LCS Challengers roster. Not competing in 2024 are Golden State Warriors-owned esports organization Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses, who were removed from the LCS in November as part of a reduction of participating teams from 10 to eight.
It is important to note that, at or around the same time Riot released its video, League of Legends content creator and interviewer Travis Gafford released a video that was clearly pre-recorded well in advance of this announcement, highlighting that he had a large window of notice from either Riot, Zimmerman, or both about the new appointment. Given Gafford’s already close, personal relationship with Riot and Zimmerman, there’s no doubt that we can expect to see him become the de facto friendly media channel for pro-company messaging in the future (more so than he already is).