December 2, 2019

Riot Games drops player salaries

Riot Games has informed Oceanic Pro League teams that they will end the team stipend ahead of the 2020 season. To compensate for the financial setbacks to the OPL teams, Riot is removing minimum player salaries for OPL players.

The team stipend was an operating subsidy helping teams offset various costs. To ensure that OPL runs on a cost-neutral basis, Riot will remove the minimum salaries for OPL players starting next season. 

Riot Games removes team stipends

Riot Games previously paid a stipend to OPL teams to overcome operating costs such as rent, internet, and travel. After Riot changed rules, several OPL teams chose the route of team houses. This forced players to play their weekly matches at the game developer’s Sydney studios.

Riot informed teams in October of their decision to stop team stipends. While the termination of team stipends does not come as a surprise to many in the Oceanic scene, the decision to remove the minimum player salary will have a direct impact on professional players. 

The Oceanic Pro League teams will have to deal with increased operating costs from 2020. Image credit to Five by Five

According to Kotaku, the minimum player salary for OPL players was $10 thousand per year. However, under the new rules, OPL players do not have a minimum earnings guarantee. With the OPL off-season, teams will look to negotiate player salaries. They’ll try to fix a rate that goes below the current minimum wages. 

“We can confirm we have removed the operating subsidy for the upcoming season in accordance with the plan teams were made aware of when they entered the league.”

Riot Games to Kotaku

If Riot Games continues holding offline events in Sydney in 2020, OPL teams may stop team houses to reduce costs. Removing minimum player salaries will impact OPL players. Some might move to another region or retire from the game altogether. Riot Games recently announced the addition of several smaller leagues such as the Belgian and the Dutch leagues. This signals a shift in focus towards other regions. 

While Riot’s decision is necessary to ensure a sustainable esports environment, it will have short-term implications on players’ livelihoods. 

Written by Rohan Samal

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