A reflection of the market?
It feels like the end of an era, as TSM, a long-standing centerpiece of North American League of Legends, will officially exit the LCS and transition into another tier-one league.
TSM is seeking a world championship by moving to another region, with many believing it will head east to the LCK or the LPL, but the organization is also seeking a buyer for its LCS slot. According to a report from the New York Times, the price TSM is looking for would double the amount it paid to stay in the LCS, but it’s far below what other slots have gone for in the past.
According to “a person with knowledge of the discussions” that spoke to NYT, TSM began talking to “interested groups” around the beginning of May, narrowing down the potential buyers to a shortlist of around 12, which are “mostly in the media and traditional sports worlds.” TSM is reportedly seeking an asking price “in the range of $20 million.”
Related: Why is TSM leaving the LCS?
For context, TSM, along with the other organizations that stayed in or joined the LCS when it moved to a franchising model prior to the 2018 season, paid a flat buy-in fee of $10 million. While the $20 million asking price effectively doubles the buy-in cost, it’s significantly lower than what a slot in the LCS went for in 2019.
In September 2019, Riot Games sold the Echo Fox slot to Evil Geniuses slot for a total of $33 million after Echo Fox’s sale to Kroenke Sports & Media fell through in July of that year.
An LCS slot officially changed hands just a couple of months ago, although not via a direct sale of the slot itself. NRG rejoined the LCS and acquired a slot from CLG in April but did so by acquiring the CLG organization itself, rather than buying the slot from the Madison Square Garden Corporation that owned CLG.
NRG didn’t even “buy” CLG technically; NRG “took on all debts and liabilities related to the CLG business” while MSG was given a “significant stake in NRG,” according to NRG CEO Andy Miller via the Jacob Wolf Report. The NYT reports that MSG “paid NRG several million dollars to take on the costs of the CLG facilities and the salaries of the remaining 25 employees.”
TSM will depart the LCS after more than a decade of competing in NA League, during which time they earned seven domestic titles.