[Editorial] The Delay in NA LCS Playoffs - Riot Needs to be More Professional

The playoff series between 'Counter Logic Gaming' and 'Team EnVyUs' was set to begin at noon on the 20th of August. In preparation for today's series, I arrived at the stadium early - around 11:30 AM. Along with me, there were many other LCS fans waiting in line to enter.

Then, just before the clock hit 12, everyone was informed through a broadcast screen that the NA LCS will begin as soon as the EU LCS concludes. Entirely confused, I immediately contacted Riot for more information, but they gave me no official response.

As a Korean reporter, maybe I overreacted... because I'm too used to LCK releasing immediate announcements even for the smallest of issues. But then again, when I glanced over Reddit, I saw countless fans complaining about the situation.

Most people pointed fingers at the same problem, and in response, many others made assumptions about what was really going on. One fan made a post that immediately climbed to the front page of Reddit by stating, "We are two different leagues and two different groups of production. And now, I'm stuck having to wait for several more hours because the EU LCS is going on." 

As the issue garnered more and more attention, Riot released an official response through a comment on Reddit. To summarize their statement, Riot was basically being considerate to those who wanted to watch both NA and EU LCS, hence the reason why they opted to delay the NA games.

However, it makes us think. Was that the majority opinion? Was delaying the matches truly necessary? What other "more rational" measure could have Riot taken? A definite answer regarding those questions will be hard to find, but in traditional sports, "promises" and "regulations" come before anything else. Riot publically announced that the NA LCS would begin at noon. This is a "promise" that Riot made with the fans, and it's a form of "regulation" that they have set for themselves. 

Unless it's inevitable, promises and regulations are almost always put first. In traditional sports, unless unexpected rain or natural disasters interfere, seeing a game delayed is rare, because the set date is a "promise" made with the fans. I've been covering LCK since 2016, and I've never run into a delayed game outside of the occasional malfunction in broadcast equipment. 

Let's go back to traditional sports. Let's say that on the 1st Round of NBA playoffs, the LA Lakers and SA Spurs are set to play. And to watch the said game, tens of thousands of fans gathered in front of the arena at 12, only to see it be delayed for 2 hours. If NBA's explanation of the delay was because the earlier game between the Houston Rockets and Golden State ended later than expected, would the fans be accepting of that?

In LA Santa Monica, hundreds of people came early to support their team in the NA LCS. However, the actual games started at around 2 PM. These fans unexpectedly lost 2 hours of their time for something they had no immediate interest in(EU LCS). If this happened in traditional sports, it wouldn't have been easily forgiven by fans.

Fans spare their time and money as well as various other means to find an opportunity to watch their favorite teams play live. And through them, the sports industry makes their living, and that is why a "promise" made with fans should be kept. The same thing applies for esports. If there are no fans, esports as we know it would quickly crumble. So, is it right to break a promise for a reason not every fan will agree on?

This issue can also affect the players themselves. Expecting the games to start at 12, teams most likely practiced according to the set time. Also, players have their own schedules and routines they go through before playing on stage. Having their series delayed to 2 PM, not because of any natural disaster or equipment malfunction, but because the EU LCS hadn't end yet; can we truly assume this didn't affect the players at all?

After the series came to a close, I spoke with a player regarding the delay. He said frankly that the delay was tiring and that he drank countless cups of coffee to counteract it. As a matter of fact, while waiting for the games to start, he said his team made a direct complaint to Riot regarding this issue.

Riot did state that they have recognized the problem and that starting next season, they will try their best to find the solution for issues such as this. The immediate fire may have been put out today, but Riot needs to continue to find the best ways to run their league. "Promises" and "regulations" must be respected, and if a delay is inevitable, an announcement should be made beforehand. 

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