The NA LCS Players’ Association makes first moves
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November 5, 2019

The NA LCS Players’ Association makes first moves

In a groundbreaking change for North America, the NA LCS Players’ Association has made streaming on the official tournament realm legal for North American professionals in the association’s first-ever change to the LCS.

Rule changes offer streaming freedom for NA players

The goal of the rule change is to provide incentives for higher quality practice. In their off time, LCS professionals are often streaming NA solo queue, an environment well known for its low bar of quality. Now, pros can still have access to the side gig of streaming without neglecting their responsibility or desire for effective training.

A large amount of the community has embraced this change. In the past, suggestions for improvement have fallen on deaf ears, but with the NA LCS Players Association, critiques and suggestions can be promoted.

The association itself has shared that it has more to come. Many hope it can grow to support professionals along with the growing esports industry.

Growing pains felt as esports expands

The LCS is only about a decade old. Pro athletes in the United States weren’t always revered, highly paid celebrities that they are today. There are many older organizations like the MLB that still have issues with player treatment and have only recently started to make effective changes. With the help of the NA LCS Players’ Association, esports is well on track towards that mainstream stability.

Esports’ recent exponential growth has left a lot of growing pains. Financially, it has skyrocketed, but regulatory issues have been left largely untouched. One unique, and often romanticized, experience in esports are game houses.

Houses purchased by esports organizations that house an entire team. The results of this style of team housing often negatively impact players. However, teams like Team Liquid have moved away from that practice, favoring training facilities and more personalized housing options.

In nearly any other industry, housing all employees in a single residence would be unthinkable. Issues of health and privacy would be rampant. Until recently, even large organizations like Team SoloMid have only just moved away from using a team house.

NA LCS strives to improve despite criticism

The implementation of franchising and the NA LCS Players’ Association should begin to assist in providing better quality of life improvements. Some of these improvements include providing healthcare benefits and 401(k) retirement plans for players.

Many players began receiving these benefits at the beginning of franchising in 2018. Anywhere else, these changes would be given to employees easily, and only goes to show the industry’s age.

One of the Association’s criticisms is that it is not a proper union, due to the fact that it is funded by Riot itself. Where the association differs, is that players are given representation like a form of parliament, rather than gathering in solidarity and organizing strikes.

This specification gives players more power, being given a seat at the table directly, but does so at the cost of Riot being in danger of abusing the relationship.

Many worry that this unique situation may be in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, but it is difficult to tell after the Association’s minimal influence.

After NA’s poor international performances, it is encouraging the association is beginning to bring positive change to the lives of players and hopefully will continue to do so in the future.

Written by Devon Huge

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