In an announcement on their forums, Riot has revealed that every match of the 2017 Oceanic Pro League will be played from their Sydney offices.
The move comes as part of a wider overhaul of the OPL system to better support teams and the infrastructure around them. Part of that infrastructure involves having an engaged, loving fanbase — and to get the fans excited, Riot is making some big changes.
The biggest of those is that players and teams will have to turn up to Riot's Sydney studios every week. "Starting next year we will be hosting all of the OPL games from our Studio here in Sydney," Riot's Daniel Ringland wrote.
We also recognise that Sydney is an expensive place to live (or to travel to during “game day”) and overall the management of clubs is becoming more expensive. While our long term vision is for clubs to be financially independent thanks to the support of sponsors and other revenue streams (merchandising, membership) in the short term, to boost the growth of the ecosystem, we are going to increase the minimum guaranteed pro player payments and introduce a club co-payment model to give clubs access to more funding for things like gaming houses and coaches.
It's important to note that teams — or clubs, as Riot likes to say — aren't being forced to move to Sydney. But as Riot is forcing all players to attend their Sydney studios to play their OPL matches, it more or less amounts to the same thing.
Making such a move isn't easy, and it comes at a cost. That cost is the OPL Grand Finals, which Riot says is being scaled down in order to accommodate a better week-to-week experience. They haven't abandoned the idyllic stadium finals altogether, but Ringland did say Riot would "announce plans for the Split 2 grand final next year".
There's no confirmation as to what the minimum guaranteed pro player payments are. It's known that players received around $100 a match last year though, and that doesn't include any additional winnings teams might receive at the end of the season.