It's been a running theme throughout the last half of the year: teams selling off their spots at the pinnacle of League of Legends competition. Some spots have even fetched close to US$1 million, while others have been acquired for a lot less.
But the manager of one organisation's League of Legends crew, an organisation that happens to be one of the largest and most well-known in Europe, has questioned the merit of the practice in a recent interview.
Hans Christian Durr, otherwise known as "Liq" in the League community, is the head of Na'Vi's League of Legends team. Na'Vi's probably best known for their exploits in the Dota 2 scene, although their CS:GO squad over the years has also garnered a fair amount of international acclaim in their own right.
Na'Vi are currently trying to build their presence in League. The organisation is in the process of renting a "gaming house" in Berlin so their squad can be fully prepared for next year. But in the interim, Durr's been watching things unfold particularly in regards to the auctioning off of LCS spots.
Needless to say, he's not impressed. "What worries me a bit right now is the current development of companies/individuals entering the market, throwing money at players to build a team with the sole purpose of selling their LCS slot once entering the LCS." he said on the Na'Vi website. "From a business perspective, it’s quite an appealing investment opportunity, yet I believe it will hurt the eSports ecosystem of League in the long run."
"Traditional clubs won’t be able to afford established players when investment-driven organizations pay two or three times the amount but don’t have any intent to build a sustainable team and support their players in the long run."
In a sense it can be seen as sour grapes — it's easy to complain about other teams who are recouping money for their LCS positions, particularly when you look at the North American scene and see pharmaceutical executives and NBA owners pitching in to buy League of Legends teams.
The other element that Durr touched on is the skyrocketing value of established players. While it might not be great from a team's perspective, it's probably not a net negative for the scene more broadly. Teams have to scour more widely for talent, or they have to pay players over the odds — in other words, more liveable wages.