Since it came to be known that owners of teams competing in the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series were suggesting a proposal to potentially remove the LCS Import Rule, the community has reacted in many different ways and sparked a far more nuanced discussion surrounding the issue than before. Let's take a look at some of the more notable reactions and how they've advanced the discussion around LCS imports and North American talent development.
Not many players have spoken about the situation, but the ones who did were domestic North American talent.
The most notable exchange was between Cloud9 support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme and TSM owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh when the latter stated the former's take on the situation was ignorant.
It wasn't just the established stars of the league who spoke up either. Rookie Immortals top laner Mo "Revenge" Kaddoura spared no expense in pointing out what he perceived as hypocrisy by owners of LCS teams. Revenge went on to state that he would never have gotten a chance in the LCS with the removal of the import rule.
Team Dignitas also deserves an honorable mention — not through words, but through actions. When Dignitas assembled the only fully North American roster in the entire 2021 LCS, it was considered a bottom two team with little to no ceiling. Through the first half of the 2021 LCS
Spring Split, Dignitas boasts a 6-3 record, good enough for a second-place tie with TSM. DIG has simply put the nose to the grind stone to develop its domestic talent. So far, so good.
Domestic LCS players weren't the only pros to join in the conversation. Established LCS imports brought some levity to the situation in the form of new memes, primarly in the form of a revival of the 'McDonalds' meme that implies a professional player without opportunities would only have service positions as an alternative.
Team Liquid support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in suggested a showmatch between five LCS imported talents and five LCS domestic talents called "Team Imports vs Team McDonalds" and even went so far as to mockup the teams utilizing players from the current top 4 teams in the LCS Spring Split standings.
In Evil Geniuses' match against Team Liquid, EG top laner Jeong "Impact" Eon-young struggled initially on Gnar against his former team before the rest of his team's advantage helped him get back in the game and back to a respectable scoreline. After the win, Impact poked fun at his own performance, stating that he 'Almost went mcdonald' after starting the game out 0/4/1.
At first glance, the tweets could be misconstrued as insensitive towards domestic talents in their region, but there are few South Korean imports who have championed North America more than CoreJJ and Impact. CoreJJ has consistently established himself as a leader for his team and the region throughout the past few seasons, and Impact has spent more time in North America than South Korea at this point in his career.
In addition to pro players competing in the LCS, casters at multiple levels of the North American scene have spoken up about the potential remove of the import rule. Riot Games color caster Isaac "Azael" Cummings Bentley stated that 2021 is the biggest opportunity for new domestic talent to showcase potential due to the retirement of notable LCS veterans like Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg and Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, and that the timing of the removal of the rule couldn't be worse.
Steve "Kangas" Kangas was a bit more blunt in his response to the situation. The caster is a veteran of the LoL amateur scene and has made multiple appearances on the LCS & North American Academy League broadcasts in the past few seasons.
Kangas is an outspoken advocate for the growth, development, and recognition of the lower levels of the competitive League of Legends scene, not just in the casting community, but in all facets. However, Kangas' quote of a tweet by Travis Gafford about the answers he received when asking LCS franchises about the import rule might have Kangas and many other committed community professionals alienated all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
Kangas' tone implies a bit of hyperbole, but the sentiment is valid. Regardless of the level of competition change should the LCS import rule be removed, it's highly possible that its removal would result in many recognizeable fan favorites in the LCS would be out of a job.
Would fans care about an improved international performance from North America if it came at the cost of the careers and aspirations of their favorite players, or would they simply began to watch a region that can develop and retain its own talent?
Perspectives outside of LCS
The majority of the conversation surrounding the potential removal of the LCS import rule has been mostly within the LCS community itself, but other members of the League of Legends scene have shared their perspectives. Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles suggested adopting a globalized league format with the 20 best teams in the world regardless of nationality or region similar to the Overwatch League.
T1 content creator Nick "LS" De Cesare also stated that he wasn't against the removal of the import rule entirely, but that if it did happen, it should be conditional on the fact that the Academy scene should be further supported to set up proper future development in the form of a full import lock or something similar.
G2 Esports CEO Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez Santiago highlighted another potential consequence of removing the LCS import rule: the destablization of the League of Legends European Championship. The G2 founder went on to say that despite the past few seasons of rebranding implying otherwise, the LCS and LEC are intrinsically linked and both should be considered when making any changes to the LCS.
It wouldn't be a League of Legends community discussion without Joedat "Voyboy" Esfahani getting on his famous steps to record a video in his home. In his most recent video, Voyboy utilizes his experiences and personal perspective to break down the potential consequences of removing the import rule from the LCS as well as the why the current state of the rule is worrisome.
Voyboy is a former professional player, and in addition to being a mainstay in the community as a streamer, recently signed with LCS organization FlyQuest as an influencer.
What comes next
Despite the numerous exchanges between members of the League of Legends community at all levels throughout this week, the conversation surrounding the LCS import rule isn't dying anytime soon. No official updates or decisions have been given or made by Riot Games or any other party associated with the LCS, and unless the organizations competing in the league suddenly become exponentionally more transparent about the issue, new information will most likely be slow-moving.
This story will continue to be updated with any new information regarding the LCS import rule, as well as any additions to the community discussion that provide more perspective and more nuance to the situation as it unfolds.