The deadline for the first phase of applications to be a permanent partner in the 2018 NA LCS has passed, and with it new details have emerged on the scope of those applications and some of their origins.
theScore esports has learned from sources close to the application process that at least one bid has been made with backing from Chinese investors who are deeply connected to the esports scene. Despite the LPL also moving to a franchising model for 2018, the bid coming from China signals continued international interest to enter the NA LCS.
The international pedigree of applicants has been well-documented so far, with ESPN’s Jacob Wolf reporting four EU LCS teams have applied to become a permanent partner in the 2018 NA LCS. Multiple sources have corroborated this information to theScore esports, saying that G2 Esports, Splyce, Fnatic and Misfits have applied.
G2, Splyce and Fnatic had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. Misfits owner Ben Spoont told theScore esports, “We are very proud to be [a part] of the EU LCS. We have no comment on anything further.”
Three of those four organizations have financial backing originating in North America. Splyce is backed by Delaware North, which is associated with TD Garden and the Boston Bruins, while Fnatic has funding from the Raptor group, which owns the Boston Celtics. Misfits also has North American financial backing, through the Miami Heat’s investment in the team.
G2 Esports, while not having the same North American backing, have been very vocal about doing what would be considered the very best for their business.
Sources have also commented on the overarching details of the first phase of the application process. Multiple sources have confirmed to theScore esports that more than 100 applications have been submitted, of wildly varying lengths.
While details on the applications remain under wraps due to non-disclosure agreements that parties have signed in order to gain access to the documents, applications were said to have ranged from seven pages to almost 100.
Riot declined to comment on all aspects of this report, saying, "The NA LCS permanent partnership application process is a completely closed process."
Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.