Which LCS teams are leaving NA Challengers before 2023 League Summer split?

Carver Fisher
every LCS team out of the NACL

With the announcement that LCS organizations would no longer be required to field an NACL (formerly Academy) rosters, many LCS franchises have pulled out. However, a few have decided to hold on to their teams.

The decision from Riot Games to lift the requirements for LCS teams to field an NACL roster has been controversial. The NACL was seen as a place where North American talent could prosper alongside a league that often imported some of its best players.

Newer players like Joseph ‘Jojopyun’ Pyun along with seasoned veterans like Eric ‘Licorice’ Ritchie and Trevor ‘Stixxay’ Hayes have all come from or had their careers kept alive due to the existence of NACL teams. Putting stock into domestic talent has, at times, paid off in spades for LCS teams.

However, paying an NACL roster and staff isn’t cheap. According to Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne, maintaining its Challengers roster costs about $1 million a year with, in his eyes, not much of a return on investment. The LCS Players Association has said that the average annual salary cost for an NACL roster is about 17% of an average LCS organization’s overall League of Legends-based salary costs in a year.

With all 10 LCS orgs voting that keeping an NACL team should be optional, many organizations have decided to opt out of participating.

Which LCS teams have dropped their NA Challengers League roster?

At the time of writing, only three organizations have decided to keep their NACL team and invest in amateur talent through that avenue. These three orgs are:

  • FlyQuest
  • Team Liquid
  • Evil Geniuses

Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses have both heavily benefitted from their Academy teams in the past, so it isn’t a surprise to see that they value having those developmental pipelines.

That said, there are many organizations that have had very successful rosters within the Academy system over the years that have decided to pull out. Those orgs are:

  • Cloud9
  • Immortals
  • Dignitas
  • Golden Guardians
  • TSM
  • NRG
  • 100 Thieves

100 Thieves was the last team to announce their departure, leaving fans wondering where talent they’ve been cultivating for years will end up. The organization has Rayan ‘Sniper’ Shoura, who 100T has built up to be one of NA’s best rookies. It’s as of yet unclear how many of the players who got let go from these teams will continue to compete.