North American League of Legends powerhouse TSM recently explored the potential of selling their franchised slot in the LCS league, sources have informed Dexerto.
According to sources familiar with TSM’s business dealings, the discussions were driven by a number of factors that included reducing costs of TSM’s esports projects, the level of competition in the North American region and the decline in popularity of North American League of Legends as a whole.
The discussions were also largely driven by the possibility of acquiring the recently-sold Misfits franchise slot in Riot’s European LEC league. A source familiar with that deal stated that TSM made some preliminary inquiries about how much it would cost before Heretics completed the deal for a reported $45-50 million fee.
A second source who spoke to Dexerto on the condition of anonymity wanted to make it clear that TSM were not necessarily planning to exit from League of Legends but merely that it made financial sense for TSM to look into the possibility of entering the European league if possible. TSM have made multiple headlines for their expensive foreign acquisitions, most notably the record-breaking deal for Taiwanese support player Hu ‘SwordArT’ Shuo-Chieh.
It has also been widely accepted for some time that the LCS viewership has been in freefall, especially when compared to its European counterpart, the LEC. Using metrics collated by website Esports Charts, the Spring Split, which ended in April, saw LCS viewership peak at 387,000 viewers while LEC almost doubled that amount with 723,000. The average viewership makes for an even sorrier reading, with the LCS achieving only 123,411 viewers compared to the LEC’s 270,749.
However, there could be more to this than meets the eye. One of the sources that confirmed the discussions also added that there was a feeling among TSM executives that the esports program needed to be streamlined amidst spiraling costs. “TSM are currently cutting budgets everywhere in esports,” the source said. “They will likely sell other parts of their esports division in the near future.”
This was tempered by a third source, who also spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, who stated that while these discussions had indeed taken place, they were just part of a number of “ideas” that the organization was exploring in a bid to stay at the top of their field but that no formal moves had been made in this direction.
We have reached out to TSM’s PR representative for comment and shall update this article if they respond.