Ever since Riot revealed the new national Forge of Champions tournament to Esports News UK back in March, they've promised that even bigger changes are coming in 2019. But what could they be?
Dom Sacco combs through the quotes to make some
educated, professional predictions guesses. So let's speculate!
1. What is the 'Pro League'? A competition bigger than Forge of Champions could be on the way
With a £50,000 prize pool, two spots at the EU Masters, mini-opens with up to 64 teams and a focus on competition and entertainment, Forge of Champions is exciting to say the least.
But Riot UK's head of esports Mo Fadl told me back in March that it's 'a new repetitive brand which we can maybe use in off-seasons down the road'.
He added more recently that what they're doing is in an 'introductory phase' and there are 'big changes' coming in 2019, 'a complete game-changer for the UK', mentioning a 'pro league'.
"The team will now expand into the UK to focus on developing Forge of Champions and the pro league over the next three years," Mo said. "Starting with the brand identity, we’re working on something that the UK deserves and show the community from now on, we play like you play, on the big field."
Will this involve a different tournament in some way? Could Forge of Champions become some kind of off-season cup tournament in between a 'pro league'? Perhaps.
2. Riot and LVP will help instil professionalism in teams
The UK scene has been volatile and underdeveloped for a while now, and proper, decent player contracts are still relatively new.
It looks like Riot and LVP will be working more closely with orgs in the future to help take them to the next level and ensure their operations are as professional as possible.
Sergi Mesonero, VP and co-founder at LVP, said: "When we forced professionalism [in the Spanish LVP] we faced a lot of resistance. Now the situation is that the Spanish LVP is a 100% professional competition, all the players are under contracts and all teams are under contract.
"All the changes to the competition are discussed between Riot and LVP and the teams, so it's a really good situation. We are working to do the same in the UK - but this is down the road."
3. LVP is building a UK studio which could be complete in 2019
LVP is working on setting up a dedicated UK-based studio to host the new competition, with an aim to 'reinvigorate the grassroots competition for teams while also creating a source of entertainment for fans'.
A date for the opening of the new studio was not given, only that it will take time to build.
Riot and LVP said they're investing millions of pounds into their developments, including the overall activities, the studio, marketing and more.
4. The structure and revenue sources could change to an LVP-style system
On the topic of prize money and how it's split, LVP's Sergi Mesonero said: "For the ex-Premiership orgs [in Forge of Champions], the prize money is going to be paid to the org.
"We expect that they have their internal contracts with the players and it’s split in a fair way, but we’re not entering into how they should divide it – at this point."
This suggests this could change in the future.
Sergi went on to talk about the Spanish LVP and how its model could be adopted by the UK in the future.
"In Spain there’s no prize money," he commented. "There’s money - fees the teams get, incentives for final standings, for audience, there’s salaries - but no prize money as such. Players have bonuses for winning competitions and so on. It’s a similar ecosystem to professional football.
"Even profit sharing or revenue sharing, in Spain we have revenue sharing for broadcasting rights, so all this helps keeps a stable and professional competition. In the UK it’s too early to say. We are in an early situation yet."
5. Bigger marketing campaigns could be on the way
When asked about what Riot is doing to promote its new UK League of Legends activities, and if we can expect more marketing in the future, Mo Fadl responded: "Our whole esports plans, especially for 2019 League onwards, are fully supported by the public. So we have to keep the esports team we’re building and the publishing team, so marketing, promotion, content creation through our channels and through the media channels we have in the UK. We’ll use them to the max we can, but it has to be meaningful.
"I’m a big fan of guerrilla-style marketing, so going to the community, having word spread and create with them. I prefer this personally, but we have highly qualified marketeers here, Ryan Geddes joined us as head of marketing, he’ll make sure we’ll be seen and heard."
Whatever happens, we look forward to seeing what Riot and LVP have up their sleeves for the future of UK League of Legends.