Following some questions around LMQ’s ownership, we wanted to share the timeline of events from Riot’s side and hopefully provide some clarity to fans concerned about potential outcomes to the team. Our top priorities are to represent the best interests of the players and maintain a positive, healthy environment for them to continue to compete within the LCS.
As you may have heard, we can confirm that the League has had discussions regarding new ownership of LMQ, including under a recently formed third party entity, Luyu eSports LLC (“Luyu”). The LCS has not yet, however, committed to recognizing any party as LMQ’s owner for purposes of entering into an LCS team agreement.
When any new team owner joins the LCS, we require that the team owner to sign certifications that declare that they do not hold any conflicting interest. Examples of conflicting interests include ownership of multiple teams, or owning a team while sponsoring other teams (Section 3.1 of the official LCS ruleset). When LMQ qualified for the NA LCS last split, we worked with A&K Esports (“AK”), who approached us as owners of LMQ, to file the appropriate ownership paperwork with the League in May.
Soon after the paperwork was filed, AK requested to formally change its name on the team agreement to LoLClass. At this time, we discovered that AK held a conflict of interest that the organization did not disclose in its original paperwork. Since LoLClass currently sponsors several teams in the LCS, we immediately determined that AK were in violation of Section 3.1 of the official LCS ruleset and thus ineligible to be owners. AK (now LoLClass) was left with 2 options: divest ownership of LMQ, or drop their sponsorships of all other LCS teams. LoLClass informed us that they preferred to divest ownership of LMQ rather than give up their sponsorships. From there, we were prepared to give LoLClass a reasonable amount of time to make a transfer of LMQ to a satisfactory owner and continue to allow LMQ to compete within the LCS.
During this time period, a dispute arose whereby a Chinese third party, Guangdong Tian Ci Performing Planning Co., Ltd. (“TC”), contacted us in July, alleging that they, and not LoLClass, were the true owners of LMQ. TC produced evidence which indicated that LoLClass had from the beginning merely been appointed by TC to help manage the team in the U.S. As we understand it, the LMQ players weren’t fully aware of, nor did they completely understand, the existence of any arrangement between TC and AK. In addition, TC told us that they had terminated all relations with LoLClass, and had transferred all LMQ player contracts to Luyu.
Although the League cannot make a formal ruling about the disputes among conflicting team owners such as AK and TC/Luyu, we are continuing to look into the situation to determine whether there can be an acceptable scenario whereby Luyu could be admitted to an LCS team agreement. This may depend on the willingness of all involved parties to come to an amicable resolution.
As we work towards an ownership resolution, we will always be sensitive to the welfare and interests of the players, including with respect to immigration visas and other aspects of fair treatment. We’ll also be checking in to verify to the best of our ability the fair treatment with all the players under any new ownership.
We’re striving to resolve this ownership dispute with limited disruption to the players. We will facilitate a smooth resolution to minimize any further distraction to LMQ as they look to finish off an impressive season in the NA LCS. Based on this incident, we will be reviewing the new owner approval process and owner eligibility requirements for the 2015 Season.
We’ll continue to provide updates as they become available around LMQ’s team ownership.