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."
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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.