League of Legends Oceania Scene Receives Serious Downsizing

by in General | Nov, 19th 2019

I never seem to hear anything good about Oceania’s esports scene. When talking with people in the region, ranked matches in many games take forever to show up. That is unless they take serious lag and queue in other regions.

Riot Games has had a pretty banner year and have a ton of esports-related games on the way out for 2020. But with that in mind, it seems like the hatchet must fall somewhere, and that’s in the Oceanic Pro League (OPL). The League is seeing some brutal changes which may result in the end of the OPL in general.

Oceanic Pro League Downsizing, Pays Way Less Now

Initially, a subsidy was provided to Oceania teams to allot for individual expenses. These include internet, rent, utilities, things of that nature. According to Kotaku Australia, they received a contract that highlights these details.

The teams get paid a flat payment. The payment was doled out on a weekly basis over the two splits. Initially, this allowed teams to have “team houses.” As a rule, change required matches to be played in person in Riot’s Sydney studio, team houses were imperative. Riot Oceania said this via email:

“We can confirm we have removed the operating subsidy for the upcoming season in accordance with the plan teams were made aware of when they entered the league. We can also confirm we have agreed as a concession with team owners to waive OPL’s minimum salary requirement. This decision wasn’t taken lightly – but with a view to sustainability – and was communicated to OPL players on October 23.”

Riot Oceania and Owners of OPL teams no longer have a minimum player salary now either. Previously they were paid $10k a year ($500 a week of the split). What does that mean for them now? With the Oceanic Pro League downsizing, they’re no longer guaranteed a paycheck at all!

Doom on the Horizon

Sources in the OPL told Kotaku Australia that matches would still be offline in Sydney, so players that aren’t Sydney-based will have to fly in weekly. It will affect teams differently, though. Teams with major backing (such as AFL clubs) will likely have no trouble flying their teams in to do battle. The smaller teams, though, especially not ones in Sydney are going to have some significant issues on their hands.

The bottom line is that most League of Legends pros in Australia better look for a second job. Players will be without income unless their team has allowances for that already. What is this going to do to the OPL pro scene? It’s going to harm it in a straightforward, serious way.

Players that must look for a job to make ends meet will have less time to spend on practicing, scrimming, and may even miss matches due to scheduling conflicts. Another thing to note, OPL players are not allowed to compete in tournaments for other games.

If an OPL player is also a skilled fighting game player, they can’t try to go to EVO or anything else due to contractual reasons. A pro player must make the game their primary focus in life. You must practice regularly to improve.

Now, I’ll grant you that it’s not on Riot to pay these pro players because that’s what the clubs and organizations are for. That part isn’t the worst part of it all. The removal of a minimum salary is scary. It can mean players could be paid significantly less than they are now.

The Future of the Oceanic Pro League

Of course, this is all an outsider’s opinion. According to Mathew “Judge” Brand, director of talent management for Evolved Talent Agency, he doesn’t think this will harm confidence in Riot Oceania or League of Legends. The game’s “regular broadcasting, quality content, and a stable infrastructure” will be enough.

I foresee quite a few players looking beyond the borders of Oceania’s region for opportunities to grow in League of Legends. Players leaving the scene means there’s room for others to come up, but it’s going to be financially challenging, from the looks of it.

It is going to make it harder than ever for OPL players and teams to make it to League of Legends worlds. Players that won’t have to compete with a second job will have a decisive advantage. Let’s be honest: being a pro player is a job.

It sounds like it’s up to the clubs in the Oceania region to foot the bill now. Australian esports is heavily reliant on sponsors for revenue. Hypothetically, players will be spending less time on League and more time with another job. It harms the overall skill level of the scene and may have fewer sponsors willing to put money down.


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