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.