Riot Games esports head reveals timeline for LCS teams’ exit
John Needham, the President of Esports at Riot Games, did an interview with Travis Gafford about the exit of Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses from the LCS and revealed the timeline of events before the announcement.
Riot Games and the LCS announced on November 20, 2023, that both the Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses were exiting the league. The North American League of Legends competition will only feature eight teams for the 2024 season and all the staff and players on those two teams will be released from their contracts.
The news came as a shock to fans and community members alike as news of an owner’s meeting about the exiting the league had only reportedly come to light a few days before. Both Evil Geniuses and Golden Guardians released statements about their exit, but neither revealed much about the process behind their exit.
However, President of Esports at Riot John Needham, did an interview with League of Legends creator Travis Gafford and revealed some of the process behind the two teams leaving the LCS.
Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses were not forced out of the LCS
Needham revealed that the move to have both organizations leave the franchised league was a response to things happening independently in both camps. He also detailed the process for both teams exiting the LCS.
“The way our partnership agreement works is when we offer one team something, like terminating and settling out their partnership agreement, we have to offer it to all teams. We did that. We offered it to all 10 teams. Only Evil Geniuses and Golden Guardians accepted our offer, the other eight teams reaffirmed their commitment to the LCS,” he said.
Needham added that Golden Guardian’s owners, the Golden State Warriors, wanted to focus their business more on basketball while Evil Geniuses have their own, well-documented, struggles that made them want to move on from the league.
He revealed that his team became “aware of some issues” with the teams a couple of weeks ago and that there was no opportunity to announce or initiate this process earlier. Needham also said that the league is moving forward with eight teams, instead of looking for organizations to fill those two spots, due to the lack of time before the off-season and the 2024 season starts.
“We will spend the next two or three months figuring out where we are going with the LCS beyond 2024,” the Riot esports head explained when asked about future plans for the league following the exit of EG and GG.
Needham did not commit to any specific changes to the LCS or its current system and repeatedly said Riot would be exploring its options for the future. He did, however, say that this is the last major change coming to the esport ahead of 2024.