Riot Games May Lift Import Restrictions, Rumors Claim

by in League of Legends | May, 20th 2021

Rumors of Riot supposedly looking to lift all import restrictions have been circulating the web for quite a while now. And, frankly, no one’s all too happy about it. That last sentence was as euphemistically formulated as humanly possible. There were murmurs about the whole thing a couple of weeks ago but they quickly subdued once the whole community — including analysts, casters, media, fans, and players — voiced their concerns and disapproval. And, again: we’re putting it mildly here.

Greedy Business

If we had to phrase what happened in a more direct fashion, we’d say that all hell broke loose. Simply put: lifting import restrictions is without a shadow of a doubt the absolute worst move Riot can make at this point in time. Still, competitive League is a business, and that’s something most folks tend to forget. Once millions of dollars enter the equation, it’s less about the who and why, and more about how much and how soon. The LCS permanent partners (the vast majority of them, supposedly) have all voted in favor of this change which, in all fairness, should come as no surprise. They want to find success on the international stage as quickly as possible and are willing to pay for it — no questions asked.

If that means buying out the entirety of Royal Never Give Up or, say, DWG KIA, then that’s the move they’re willing to make — to hell with regional pride and a decade’s worth of history. And they want international success because they think it’ll directly translate into revenue. Are they correct to think so? We can’t answer that question with absolute certainty, but right now we’re leaning towards a fairly resounding “no.” In fact, a good chunk of the most dedicated, steadfast LCS fans (and competitive LoL fans in general) would protest and take their money, their clicks and views and comments and invest them someplace else. 

Everyone’s reasoning is beyond simple: such obscene gread simply cannot be tolerated.

It’s becoming quite obvious that these team owners and the higher-ups don’t care much for League of Legends nor for esports in general. They see it (and treat it) as a potential source of financial gain, and they’re willing to play the “long con” in order to maximize their earnings. And, of course, if they can cut a couple of corners and expedite things with ease then all the better!

Shameful, to say the least.

Cloud9 & 2021 MSI — The Glass Is Half-Empty

The fact that the LCS champions failed to reach Top 4 — despite spending millions upon millions of dollars — seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. And, in all fairness, it’s easy to understand why team owners would be disheartened about the whole thing. If, for instance, signing the best Western player of all time isn’t enough to move you past the PCS and LEC — or at the very least make you as competitive as they are — then alternative methods need to be employed. In that sense, everyone agrees: it’s time for a change. The problem, though, is that money cannot solve the woes of North America. That was true in the past, it’s true now, and it’ll definitely be true in the future as well.

The Point of No Return

We won’t list the many ways in which North America, as a region, would crumble and regress if Riot does decide to lift import restrictions. That feels pretty redundant at this point. What is worth mentioning, however, is that by doing so, player salaries would decrease considerably. Think about it: why pay some Western player (no matter great or talented) millions upon millions of dollars, if you can sign a venerable LPL giant for the same price? Luka “Perkz” Perković was supposed to be the difference-maker, and yet that failed to be the case. Does that mean Cloud9 threw nearly $12 million down the drain? Of course not, but it was a seismic investment, one that has yet to bear any fruit.

So, in that sense, Cloud9 did overpay based on what they’ve gotten thus far.

With no import restrictions in place, organizations could sign whomever they please which would naturally affect the financial aspect of competitive LoL — to the glee and benefit of team owners, of course. Now, player salaries have gone through the roof, and they have reached an unhealthy point, but upending the whole market in such a foolhardy, reckless way would do way more harm than good.

Hopefully none of this comes to fruition as it would have far-fetching repercussions, all of which would negatively affect the world’s most popular esport. And, again: we’re phrasing things as euphemistically as possible here.

In the meantime, while we await official confirmation (or, hopefully, some sort of rebuttal), make sure to tune in to the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational; there are just three Best of 5s left to be played and, needless to say, we should be in for quite a photo finish!


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