League heroes characters storm forward

Professional video game leagues are becoming more and more like their professional sports counterparts, complete with official teams, standout athletes and competitions that net them all a healthy paycheck. Riot Games wants to take their game to the next level with League of Legends, and will be taking a major step in that direction soon. They're introducing a franchise model to the league.

A franchise model is what you see in all major athletic leagues, such as the NFL, NBA and MLB. You've got set teams, usually in set cities, with athletes dreaming of the day they might be able to join one of those rosters.

Currently in League of Legends professional play, there's quite a bit of flux. There are a handful of standout teams with athletes everyone knows and follows, but the roster of competitors and teams can change from season to season. Riot Games has announced that will no longer be the case, thanks to the introduction of the franchise model.

As Polygon is reporting, this means there will be a fixed number of North American League of Legends teams each season. The cost to franchise a team is a whopping $10 million, which is only actually about half of what The Overwatch League has been rumored to be kicking around for franchising its own teams. It doesn't sound like any newcomers will be a part of the conversation, as Riot has announced it will seek the aid of third parties to determine which teams can be franchised. The point of all of this is to create a stable, professional, well-funded and committed" league that keeps a more consistent environment, where the players are well compensated for their skill and effort.

This is just a harebrained example, but that means we'll soon be seeing teams like the Atlanta Raiders or the Los Angeles Gankers with set rosters from season to season. That should work wonders for organizing everything, both on the team and league level.

More importantly, Riot Games looks to be keeping the focus on taking care of its players. For starters, there's going to be a revenue sharing process, similar to what's seen in other sports. That means that everybody benefits from a portion of the money every team makes. In other words, if one team is raking in the dough and sponsorships, they'll enjoy the bulk of that funding while everyone else gets a small infusion of cash thanks to the overall success of the league. That encourages teams to be proactive in nailing down their own success while keeping the entire league healthy.

On top of that, Riot is establishing a Players' Association. While not directly called a union, it will consist of a collection of players, voted on by their peers, who will represent them on a higher level.

This could be huge for League of Legends and eSports in general. If successful, we wouldn't be surprised to see games like Overwatch, DOTA and StarCraft follow suit, assuming they've got the teams, interest and infrastructure to support it.

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