NALCSPA boss slams Riot’s “ignorant” VCT 2023 franchising model for Valorant

The 2022 Masters Iceland stageColin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

Phillip Aram, the Executive Director of the North American League of Legends Championship Series Players Association, criticized the recently announced Valorant Champions Tour 2023 franchise league announcement Thursday, April 28.

Aram, an integral figure in the North America LCS Player Association, went to Twitter after Riot Games announced its new changes to the 2023 VCT circuit. The upcoming format will introduce three international franchise leagues, creating a closed system for players similar to other esports like the LCS, the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League.

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According to Aram, the new system will not benefit Valorant professional players, contrary to what Riot’s announcement post claims. The company specifically said the new system will give players “larger salaries and more robust support systems, while teams have been able to plan multiple years into the future.”

The VCT 2023 leagues, to Aram, could potentially do more harm than good.

“This is painfully ignorant of the power disparity they are creating again,” he said.

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In the Twitter thread, Aram points to the ways in which a franchising model hurts players by giving them few options in contract negotiations.

Aram specifically pointed to the lack of trade protections in League of Legends contracts, how teams are only signing players to maximum length deals and how players signing massive contracts only have the next two weeks of their contract guaranteed.

“These teams gain unprecedented ability to say ‘If you don’t like it, good luck going to one of the other fixed teams with power,'” he wrote.

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What VCT 2023 could mean in terms of player labor

Aram ended his thread by saying he does not believe teams in these leagues are to blame for these practices manifesting over the years, but rather with the developer that created a system which allows for these unequitable practices to prosper.

“If it’s fair play for a dev to consolidate market power to a select few, then they must act to ensure an equitable playing field for the players in the market as well,” he wrote.

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