‘League of Legends’ players association slams attempts for ‘scab’ replacements amid walkout

Tribune Content Agency

The esports players association representing “League of Legends” professionals slammed the video game’s developer for trying to turn to “scab” replacement players amid its walkout over the elimination of an amateur league mandate.

Developer Riot Games said earlier this month it had agreed to drop the mandate for a North American Challengers League (NACL) after teams asked for its removal.

In response, the League Championship Series Players Association’s vote to walk out “overwhelmingly passed” Sunday, less than a week before the summer season’s scheduled start this Thursday.

“The LCSPA has been aware for over a week of attempts to require teams to field scab players at the start of the season,” the players association said Monday. “We continue to actively reach out to players outside of the LCS with a clear and simple message: Do not agree to play for any LCS org as a replacement player. … Crossing the line puts all players’ futures at risk.”

Content creator Travis Gafford claims Riot Games has suspended its rank requirements for players to compete in the League Championship Series. Riot did not immediately respond to a Daily News request for comment.

In its statement Monday, the players association expressed confidence “players will stand in solidarity and any attempts to make scab rosters will fail.”

The players association asked to meet with Riot to find a solution and said doing so is the only way to prevent the start of the season from being interrupted. The LCSPA’s demands include minimum contracts for the winners of the annual summer finals and a $300,000 revenue pool to be used for the salaries of every NACL team.

More than half of the current League Championship Series professionals came up through the amateur system, the players association said May 12. In that statement, the organization said eliminating the NACL mandate would cost as many as 70 people their jobs.

“The promotion of home-grown talent fuels financial savings for teams and ignites fans around the next generation of LCS talent,” the LCSPA said at the time. “The impact of this decision on the league’s future can not be overstated.”

Riot founded the LCSPA in 2017, but the association rebooted in 2020 without the developer’s funding. Last year, the LCSPA partnered with the licensing company OneTeam in an effort to grow as an independent organization.

Although the term “scab” refers to strikebreakers who step in during an officially sanctioned strike by a certified union, critics of Riot suggest the company is operating under the spirit of strikebreaking.

“We are not a union and do not have collective bargaining power, but walk out’s are protected concerted actions protected by the [National Labor Relations Act], and we have done or best to organize and support players in pursuing this right of theirs in protest of the league’s recent actions,” Phillip Aram, the executive director of the LCSPA, told the Daily News.

The LCSPA’s walkout announcement comes amid a strike by the Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 entertainment writers. That strike, which began May 2, is the first involving a Hollywood union since the writer’s guild went on strike from 2007 to 2008.