Elements to bench Wickd, set to pick up Kev1n

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European LCS team Elements is set to replace their top laner Mike "Wickd" Petersen, multiple sources tell theScore. Many sources state that the team has been scrimming with Kevin "kev1n" Rubiszewski and will be the most likely replacement.

So far this season, Elements, who rebranded from Alliance in 2014, have been struggling. The team suffered a major setback last week when they lost to both Gambit Gaming and H2k Gaming in convincing fashion. Elements has been criticized for their passive playstyle, and Petersen in particular has come under heavy fire for his performances throughout the 2014 League of Legends World Championships and the 2015 LCS Spring Split.

While the reasoning for the benching is unclear, a source told theScore that it may have been due to stylistic clash between Petersen and the rest of the team. The source alleges that Petersen’s aggressive and reckless playstyle did not synergize with their more passive midlaner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and AD Carry  Martin "Rekkles" Larsson.

Hansen and Petersen have been on the same team for over three years, spanning multiple organizations such as Counter Logic Gaming, Alliance and Evil Geniuses.


 

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Tryndamere responds to community: Riot is working to improve revenue sharing, will release patches earlier

by 1d ago

Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill has followed up on his initial response to Team SoloMid owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh's comments on the sustainability of League of Legends esports with a new TwitLonger that addresses some of the concerns expressed by members of the community.

"This may surprise some, but I actually agree with a lot of the points Andy makes about sustainability in the LoL ecosystem," Tryndamere said in his post Wednesday. "League esports (in its current form) doesn't provide the long term security and sustainability that we ultimately aspire to for teams and pros."

Throughout the debate that began on Monday with Reginald's interview and Tryndamere's Reddit response, the TSM owner has argued that Riot has demanded more of players and teams without increasing stipends or other league-controlled revenue streams, or giving them access to outside sponsorship opportunities.

"Over time, LCS has become more demanding and restrictive and the dynamics of a mutually beneficial relationship have become more one-sided," he wrote on Tuesday.

In his response Wednesday, Tryndamere acknowledged that team costs are rising while revenue stays mostly stagnant, saying that it is the "short-term reality of growing a young esport."

"Building a self-sustaining global sport requires more revenue generation opportunities for all parts of the ecosystem, and we know there’s more we can do to further unlock the value of the leagues for owners and pros," the Riot executive wrote.

He said that in 2017, Riot plans on releasing additional team-branded in-game items that will provide teams with additional revenue, and they are also looking to sell more physical merchandise through their online store, both concessions that Reginald and other team owners have requested.

"These are just a couple of examples and we’re exploring a lot more major steps, like league sponsorships, franchising, media rights, etc.," Tryndamere wrote.

Sharing sponsorship revenue with teams and broadening opportunities for teams to feature their own sponsors are both issues at the heart of the debate. Though Riot's events and online streams have not generally been sponsored, League of Legends leagues and tournaments have attracted major outside sponsors in the past. Coca Cola currently sponsors the LCK (which is run by OGN and sanctioned by Riot), and also sponsored the 2014 World Championships and the 2015 North American Challenger Series. The LCS itself has never been sponsored.

Tryndamere did not go into detail about what sponsorship revenue-sharing might look like, but rather stressed the complexity of the problem from Riot's perspective.

"As we build additional revenue streams for multi-esport organizations, what mechanisms should we put in place to help ensure that the right amount of revenue is shared with their League pro players?" he wrote. "Who decides what is the right amount? Is it even fair for Riot to influence these third-party teams in this way? There is no road map for this, and we need to continue to learn together with our partners the way we have since we started on this esports journey back in season one at Dreamhack."

The post does not discuss increasing player stipends, which have remained at $12,500 per player per split since 2013, or growing the LCS' prize pools, which have been stable at $100,000 per split since the LCS was founded. (However, Tryndamere said in a previous Reddit comment that Riot was "open to revisiting the Worlds' prize pool," which has also remained relatively stable at close to $2 million since 2012.)

Addressing the criticism that Riot releases game-changing patches too close to major tournaments — in particular this year's lane swap patch, which Reginald and others have complained came out too close to regional playoffs, robbing teams of the time to practice — Tryndamere said it will "do a better job of communicating sooner" and plans to ensure that patches that deeply affect the competitive meta "happen earlier on in the split to give players more time to adjust."

RELATED: Get good: Worlds patching and the myth of meta-resistance​

However, he stuck to his guns on Riot's decision to enforce standard lanes in the latest patch. "Our laneswap changes once again didn’t give teams much time to prepare, but we moved forward believing it will lead to better games and a better viewing experience for fans," he wrote.

After publishing the post today, Tryndamere again responded to community comments on Reddit. He defended his initial, terse response to Reginald's interview on Reddit, saying that it was in line with Riot's communication philosophy of being "unfiltered."

"We prefer to be 'unfiltered' / 'raw' because we are deeply immersed in the game and hate the high level generic corporate speak that says nothing and plays it safe," he wrote. "The downside of these attempts to participate in general community discussions when we occupy this seat and there are tens of millions of players around the world is that it's hard to speak like we know you guys in a casual / comfortable way. ... I infinitely prefer interacting with players than with our PR team (yes we have one) and struggle to engage in the way that I did in 2011 and earlier. Think we need to continue to grow and adapt to our size, scale and the associated expectations."

Since Tryndamere's TwitLonger was posted, Reignald has responded with a short statement of his own, writing that TSM and other NA LCS teams have signed a "detailed proposal" that is being sent to Riot with suggestions for changes to the structure of the LCS.

Several teams have explicitly stated on Twitter they are part of the petition, including Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid and Cloud9, while other teams and personalities from NA and EU have voiced their support using the #LCSForever hashtag. The content of the proposal is not public.

Last updated at 7:04 PM on 8/24/2016.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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HTC eSports: 'It is becoming difficult to justify our investments into the [LoL] scene'

by 3h ago

HTC eSports is the latest organization to comment on controversial statements made by Riot Games President Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill and other Riot officials earlier this week about the long-term sustainability of League of Legends esports and its attractiveness to outside sponsors. In a statement on Facebook, HTC said that largely because of Riot's policies, it is becoming more difficult for mainstream sponsors to justify sponsoring teams in the LCS.

The post specifically addresses a Reddit comment made Wednesday by director of esports Whalen "Magus" Rozelle, which said Riot was opposed to a sponsor YouTube video made by Team SoloMid and HTC. The video shows TSM's LCS team playing the HTC Vive game Raw Data.

Magus said in his comment that the video was "a [tacit] advertisement for another game." "This is against LCS rules because LCS isn't a platform for other game companies to advertise on," he wrote. "Yes, this means there's a category that teams don't have access to but for any sport, letting quasi competitors advertise on the league doesn't make sense."

Rule 3.7 of Riot's official LCS rulebook states that teams are completely unrestricted in terms of what sponsors they are allowed to secure. Rule 3.7.6 lists "products or services from direct competitors" as one of the sponsors that are restricted in terms of being displayed by players at certain times, however the rule lists those times as: "the use or play of LoL, adjacent to LoL related material, the LCS, or any Riot-affiliated events."

While the rule does not explicitly ban players from participating in a video affiliated with what could be construed as a competitor, it does state that "LCS officials have the ability to update the category list at any time."

HTC said in its post that Riot threatened TSM with a fine if the video was not removed. The sponsor wrote that it was not "strategically trying to circumvent" Riot's policies, and that the video was part of a series which featured TSM's players playing various Vive games, which they claim the team chose themselves.

"Survios, the creators of Raw Data, did not make any financial investment into the production of the video, nor did they approach us to get it made," HTC wrote. "TSM selected Raw Data themselves after reviewing a list of Vive games as they felt it would resonate most with their fans."

HTC did admit that it is logical that Riot does not want LCS pros to bring attention to their competitors. However, they asked for a clarification of what Riot's policies explicitly prohibit. As an example, they asked what the difference is between an LCS player streaming Deus Ex and an LCS player making a YouTube video of them playing a Vive game. According to HTC, those kinds of questions are making it more difficult to justify their sponsorships in the League of Legends space.

"If Riot does not want us making videos that feature our sponsored players playing other games, we do not have many options for showcasing our products," HTC stated.

"Sponsors are now very limited in what we can do to market our brand and products while still supporting the League of Legends scene."

HTC also noted that the r/leagueoflegends subreddit does not allow HTC to post their LoL-themed ads, though Riot has no official affiliation with the subreddit, and their policies are outside of Riot's control.

"As one of the first major non-endemic sponsors in the West, we believe we have helped pioneer marketing in esports, and we’ve loved every second of it," HTC stated. "But with less avenues for advertisement in League of Legends, stemming from the restrictions on the teams and players, restrictions on the subreddit, and the lack of available marketing opportunities at competitions, it is becoming difficult to justify our investments into the scene."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Top 5 Plays from Unicorns of Love vs. H2k-Gaming (2016 EU LCS)

theScore esports Staff 6h ago

Although they both joined the EU LCS in the spring of 2015, H2k-Gaming and the Unicorns of Love have only crossed paths in the playoffs once before, in Summer 2015.

One year later, these two EU LCS mainstays look to write a new chapter in their history. Before H2K and UoL take to the Rift, we look back on their games from this past year's matches and admire the best moments, counting down the Top 5 Plays from UoL vs. H2K.

For more video interviews and highlights, be sure to subscribe to theScore esports on YouTube.

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Enemy co-owner tackles Tryndamere's comments from the "lower-end" of the LCS

by 1d ago

Enemy co-owner Robert "Chachi" Stemmler is the latest LCS personality to weigh in on controversial statements made by Riot Games president Marc "Trynadmere" Merril, stating in a TwitLonger that "revenue sharing is the ONLY option that can maintain this esport."

While Chachi is no longer an LCS team owner, he did own a team in the 2015 NA LCS Summer Split, after Enemy made it out of the Challenger Series. However, Enemy failed to hold on to that spot for long, and were relegated back to the Challenger Series after just one split. After finishing last in the 2016 NACS Spring Split, the team disbanded and Enemy left the League of Legends scene.

However, Chachi stated in his TwitLonger that his perspective from the "lower-end" of the professional scene makes his take on the issue a little different from TSM owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh's.

"Despite being only a FORMER owner, I'm almost certainly one of those lovely "lower-end" owners that Tryndamere's post is dripping with disdain for. I'm basically Enemy's finances," Chachi stated.

Tryndamere's original post referred to Riot working towards a "balance of power between players and owners [that] is a bit more equitable," before going on to discuss how Riot has "done a lot historically to help support the bottom end of the ecosystem to help minimize the scenarios where bad teams/owners can exploit players." However, Chachi states that he has only seen the opposite happen, with players leveraging owners of lower-end teams instead.

"Players know that a downgrade from them makes a bottom team much more likely to be relegated," he wrote. "One of our players had an outside negotiator come in and get him an utterly ridiculous salary for the time, partially by forcing our hand during the short offseason, partially by giving us expectations of ending up with much more sponsorship money than we were able to achieve. Players have gotten quite good at negotiating their salaries, as long as they care about it.

"It's owners that rarely have the capacity to respond, unless they're VC investors, in which case they pay well enough anyway for power dynamics not to raise an ethical issue."

Chachi argues that Riot is not interested in franchising as it will decrease players' ability to negotiate. If teams have permanent spots in the league, they would be able to sign a lower-quality player without fear of relegation, instead of shelling out big money for a top player to help them stave it off. Instead, Chachi argues that Riot needs to implement a revenue-sharing system, otherwise even the top organizations involved in the scene won't be interested in sticking around.

"The tone of Tryndamere's post is that what's good for owners is bad for players," Chachi stated.

"Does Marc's post give you the feeling that he's interested in rewarding even the "good guy" owner with something that increases his power over players? It doesn't for me. Maybe when it's just the old boys and 6 VC orgs they'll lock it, but if they don't have a stable enough revenue stream for those VC orgs guaranteed by shortly afterwards, what's to stop those "good guy" VCs from leaving? Promotion's already gone. Challenger's already been restructured. That could be a death sentence for the game or for player salaries. Certainly for my interest as a potential investor."

Chachi pointed out that while Riot does give some money to organizations, it's not enough, and pales in comparison to what organizations like Enemy receive from smaller games. According to Cachi, Enemy received a one-time $3,125 royalty cheque for icon sales, while they receive more than that each month for sales of Enemy-branded skins in Smite. Chachi did not state how much more Enemy receives for the Smite skins, however.

He also stated team budgets are commited long before negotiations happen in the summer. At that point, a smaller team like Enemy has less money to throw around at players that could help them stave off relegation, while larger organizations would theoretically have more cash to sign players they need at the last minute. But Chachi is not hopeful for the sort of revenue-sharing system he says he thinks LoL needs.

"If Riot was planning to boost org income in the LCS, why would they post a long rant effectively denying the notion that financial problems even exist? Why would they attempt to insinuate that owners are already profiting too much and paying too little?

"I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel in this post. I can't see how LoL is going to keep up with other esports rapidly enhancing their attractiveness to investors when playerbase is no longer enough to drive them forward."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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MonteCristo on the LCS revenue debate: Riot's 'like some sort of f***ed-up tyrant Santa Claus'

by 2d ago

In a lengthy video posted Tuesday morning, OGN LoL caster and Renegades co-owner Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles weighed in on the debate that has broken out between LCS team owners and Riot Games about how teams and players earn revenue in LoL esports.

MonteCristo, whose LCS team was forced to disband earlier this year after Riot ruled it had inappropriate connections with Chris Badawi and Team Dragon Knights, was not shy about his frustration with how Riot's current policies have affected organizations' ability to generate revenue and pay their players.

"There has been no sponsorship revenue sharing for the league," he said. "The sponsors are tapped out. The endemic sponsors, they're not going to give any more money for League of Legends. Most teams are losing money, maybe one or two teams are making a razor-thin profit from LCS."

He claimed that Riot's policies about how and where an organization's sponsors can be featured has not only limited investments made by current sponsors, but has also made the LCS an unattractive option for potential new entrants.

The debate over how Riot's esports policies have affected team owners and outside investors broke into the public spotlight yesterday when Riot co-owner Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill replied to an interview with Team SoloMid co-owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh.

RELATED: TSM's Reginald responds to Riot's Tryndamere: 'It’s irrational to invest even more money into LCS, given how restrictive LCS is'

Reginald argued in the interview that Riot's decision to release a major patch after the LCS regular season, but ahead of playoffs and the World Championship, has hurt the high-level competitive environment. He said the constant reinvention of the game makes it hard for players to find consistent, healthy employment with a competitive organization.

Tryndamere countered in a written response on Reddit that Reginald had the power to decide how his players were reimbursed, and accused him of shifting profits to investments in other esports rather than paying more for LoL players.

MonteCristo rebuked Tryndamere in his video, saying that the money team owners use to pay players is ultimately controlled by Riot and that, in situations where Riot already provides money to players, they've chosen not to increase that amount.

"Maybe if you're concerned with the financial health of the players, Tryndamere, you should pay them more money," he said. "Maybe you should raise a stipend. You haven't raised a stipend for the players since 2013."

The Renegades owner argued that the rules surrounding sponsorships need to change to enable more outside investment, and that Riot should consider a revenue-sharing proposal that would see teams and players benefit from Riot's sponsorships. His video doesn't go into detail about what a solution might look like.

MonteCristo also claimed that the threat of relegation already forces teams to offer as much as they can to acquire the best players, so that they do not lose their LCS spot and forfeit their investment. "In a system where relegations exist, teams will always be trying to pay the players the maximum amount that makes sense, because otherwise you lose everything," he said.

He called Riot and Tryndamere hypocrites, claiming that they were telling teams to spend more on players while underpaying their own broadcast talent. MonteCristo and his fellow OGN casters have raised the issue of unfair treatment by Riot in the past, for example when they boycotted the Mid-Season Invitational for allegedly offering substandard wages. In a Tweet Monday morning, he said the current debate gave him more reason to believe a caster's union is needed.

In Tryndamere's original Reddit post, which he later edited, he suggested that Reginald and TSM were "losing money" by investing in other esports. MonteCristo attacked this statement in his video, saying there was no way for Riot to know whether teams were turning a profit from titles like Counter-Strike or Overwatch. (Renegades has an active roster in CS:GO.)

"I don't know how Riot got this idea," he said. "They never asked me, as a team owner, how I was doing, where my sponsorship money was coming from. And I would have told them that — for me personally and I think this is true for a lot of teams — that sponsorship in CS:GO and the potential of Overwatch was much more exciting for sponsors. And it was getting increasingly difficult to field good sponsorships and make good money off of an LCS team."

MonteCristo took special issue with a section of Tryndamere's response in which he separated teams into those with "good guy" owners like Reginald, and others at the "bottom end of the ecosystem."

"I hate this about Riot," he said. "They’re like some sort of f***ed-up, tyrant Santa Claus, where you get put on the naughty or nice list for all-time, and they decide ‘he is good, he is bad. I guess Regi’s one of the good guys. I don’t really know what that means in this context."

MonteCristo is unlikely to be the last to weigh in on the debate. Reginald posted a full response to Tryndamere's comments Tuesday, and commentator Duncan "Thorin" Shields has promised a video response in the near future.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury kindly asks you not to feed the Volibear. You can find him on Twitter.

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