Riot Games terminated its partnership agreement with Evil Geniuses and Golden Guardians, marking the exit of both organizations from the LCS.
The LCS will be an eight-team league in 2024, Riot Games president of esports John Needham shared through X. Evil Geniuses and Golden Guardians are leaving the LCS and League of Legends as a whole, likely for good. In an interview with Travis Gafford, Needham stated that Riot Games became aware of issues within the teams weeks prior to the announcement. According to Needham, the Golden State Warriors, Golden Guardians’ owner, has decided to focus solely on basketball, exiting the esports space.
Evil Geniuses’ case is completely different, Needham stated. The organization’s struggles are well documented online, including repeated layoffs, reports of staff being mistreated, and legal battles with former players. Not even recent success in Valorant and League of Legends was enough to keep the organization afloat.
Format changes coming to the LCS in 2024 with Evil Geniuses, Golden Guardians out of LoL
The LCS is reducing the number of teams competing in the LCS from 10 to eight which necessitates a change in the league’s format, but Riot hasn’t settled on how it will approach things in 2024 yet.
“This change will allow us to be much more flexible as we prepare to restructure the league for future success,” Needham wrote on X.
The exact changes are yet to be disclosed but seem to aim at making the LCS a more competitive league. The first step is having teams who are committed to the future of esports, though this also comes at a time of declining viewership for the LCS.
In the interview with Gafford, Needham said that all teams in the league were given the opportunity to terminate their partnerships agreements. Out of the 10 teams, only Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses opted out of the LCS. Three teams in total have left the LCS so far in 2023, TSM being the third on the list. TSM sold its LCS spot to Shopify Rebellion, the LCS confirmed the transaction back in September.
There is a chance the LCS might return to 10 teams in the future. Needham stated that Riot is evaluating all possible alternatives and reaffirmed Riot’s commitment to the North American esports scene.
Is League of Legends esports dying?
The future for the rest of League of Legends’ international leagues is uncertain, Needham said.
According to the executive, League of Legends esports is a dynamic environment open to changes. He clarified that no major announcement will be taking place for the rest of 2023. However, changes are possible in the near future.
This could mean leagues losing teams or increasing their number of slots. In 2019, the LPL went from 14 to 16 teams. In 2020, the league added one more team for a current total of 17.
There is still interest in League of Legends esports, despite these internal struggles. The 2023 League of Legends World Championship saw T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok win the Summoner’s Cup in front of a record-breaking audience at home.