Esport’s massive growth can be both a blessing and a curse. This year might be the largest for eSports growth. An LCS team’s spot is worth over a million dollars, something that would be insane just a year ago. How exactly does our beloved game continue to grow without collapsing in on itself?
There’s been a lot of talk on the internet about player’s salaries. How does a player know his net worth? The biggest League of Legends star is Faker, who is estimated to make around $150,000 a year, with Chinese organization propositioning him to play with them for close to a million dollars. Right now, there is almost no public information on how much a player makes. Noah Winston, the CEO of the newest NA LCS team Immortals, posted a tweet about creating a public database of player salaries. The internet went insane, and nearly everyone was chiming in on it.
I am all for good compensation of players, but posting inflated salaries with zero revenue is not the way to a sustainable model.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) December 26, 2015
Ember, one of the newer Challenger series team, posted exactly how much their players are paid to “start the dialogue.” Famous voices around the internet posted their opinion on it, from pro LCS players like Idominate and Forgiven, to writers like Thoorin, who shared his views in video. The team Ember is owned by a venture capital company, which has enough money to pay their players handsomely. This company wants people to know about them, so releasing these figures is a way to piggy back good PR off of a very sensitive topic.
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Gleebglarblu, a member of Ember’s roster, believes releasing this information is paramount for the industry to evolve. Challenger series players are bright eyed newbies, who have no idea how to properly value themselves. There is no protection for players during contract negotiations, since unions and lawyers are not yet the industry standard.
There seems to be a line drawn in the sand about if a public player salary database is a good idea. Snoopeh, a former LCS pro had this to say in an article on Medium:
“Honestly, all it really does is serve as food for the community to judge the players and teams. I also think the timing of doing it was unnecessary and rushed. We could have spent far more time doing due diligence and having an open dialogue with all parties before irrational jumping to a conclusion. Most players have already signed their contracts for the spring split and all this does is cause dissension amidst teams, as well as players.”
Everyone is sharing their opinion on this, and it’s really just the start. Public debacles over salaries, like with Svenskeren and TSM, make an answer to this question even more important. A dialogue should be opened, it’s how progress is made. Whether you think salaries should be public or confidential, one thing is abundantly clear. We are at a turning point in Esports legitimacy. Do we treat players like other sports do, or create a system all our own. I’m happy as long as the video games I love get treated with the love they deserve, and the corporate power houses don’t swallow the industry whole.