Riot Games recently made participation in the North American Challenger League options for LCS organizations, and that looks like it could lead to an LCS players strike.
The North American Challenger League is the second tier of play in North America. Until recently, it was mandatory for LCS organizations to field a NACL roster. Recently, Riot Games put it to a vote among the LCS ownership, and that requirement was disbanded. In response to the announcement, all but three LCS orgs announced they would be pulling their NACL rosters. As a result. the LCS Players’ Association will be voting on an LCS player strike on Sunday, May 28. What power does the LCSPA have, and what would a strike look like?
Can the LCS players go on strike?
The possible LCS strike has some interesting qualifications, as the LCSPA is not technically a union. Established unions, such as the Writers Guild of America, which is currently on strike, are able to bar members from working during strikes, and have a direct dialogue with their employers through collective bargaining. The LCSPA doesn’t hold union status, and therefore cannot enforce its strike in many ways a traditional union could.
The current bar for a strike would be a vote of half or more of the LCSPA members voting to strike during the May 28 vote. League of Legends content creator and journalist David Szajnuk published a video discussing the complications of the NACL change and subsequent strike possibilities.
The key is that even if the LCSPA successfully votes to strike, there is currently no binding measure through which they can guarantee it is enforced. Every members of the LCSPA could, if they wanted, pursue opportunities even after voting for a strike. This strike would require members to act collectively, with little of the official mechanisms of an established union. Nonetheless, should the LCSPA vote to strike, it could be the first step towards more official player protections and collective action.