NA LCS teams will no longer be able to “farm” the Challenger Series by having a sister team qualify for the LCS through the Promotion Tournament, Riot Senior Esports Coordinator J.T. Vandenbree tweeted Friday. This decision only applies to North America — Vandenbree clarified Europe will make its own decision.
Also worth noting- as of this year, LCS sister teams are not allowed to participate in Promotion. The incentive to "farm" a CS spot is gone.— J.T. Vandenbree (@RiotTiza) December 1, 2016
LCS teams will still be able to have sister teams in the Challenger Series — CLG announced one on Wednesday, and head coach Tony Gray said the team had been made aware of the rule change — but those teams will simply not be able to participate in promotion, even if they win the Challenger Series. It’s not a perfect fix for the Challenger Series’ numerous problems, but it does push the idea of Challenger sister teams back to promoting the growth of young talent, rather than looking for a big pay score.
Cloud9 Challenger won the NACS last split and won promotion to the NALCS by defeating NRG Esports in the Promotion Series. C9C’s run was fraught with controversy, as the team fielded a lineup with four LCS veterans, including two who had previously retired from professional play. By winning the promotion series, C9C likely earned Cloud9 a million dollar payday when it sells the slot.
This new rule is similar to one used by some soccer leagues in Europe, where massive clubs may have a youth team in their country’s third-tier domestic league. Even if the youth team finishes in first place in the league, promotion will instead be awarded to the second-place team.
Update, 12/2: Coach Joe Edwards reached out with additional context about the NA LCS’s history that helps make sense of how this was allowed for so long.
@Pete_Volk i guess the big thing to remember is that there was always an implied degree of separation between main/academy in esports/league— Joe 'Strong' Edwards (@joejedwards) December 2, 2016
@Pete_Volk which in na is something that goes all the way back to stuff like TSM sponsoring a 2nd team that was like top-4 na in s2— Joe 'Strong' Edwards (@joejedwards) December 2, 2016