LCS: Why the Import Rule Should Stay and Three Ways to Fix It

Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games
Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games /
5 of 6
Photo by David Lee/Riot Games.
Photo by David Lee/Riot Games. /

2. Make Import Slots Tradeable/Sellable

A simple way to fix the import system is actually a way to help smaller teams: make the import slots a commodity that can be traded or sold to another team. So, for instance, right now Golden Guardians have a roster with four native players and one import. What if they could simply sell or trade that unused import slot to, say, Team Liquid?

While this might not seem fair, adding another point of leverage for teams with bigger budgets to bring in talent the other teams lack, actually would even the playing field. The reason for that is this: trading an import player does not necessarily trade an import slot. These are two separate commodities.

For instance, say TL was interested in acquiring Perkz from C9, to replace Jensen. In acquiring Perkz, they still either have to get rid of an import, Alphari or CoreJJ, or they can acquire an import slot. Since Cloud9 no longer needs theirs, by acquiring Jensen, they could trade it to Team Liquid, but TL could also imply negotiate to buy it from a team like Golden Guardians rather than pay a steeper price to acquire Perkz.

More from Editorials

LCS teams should be able to trade their import slots.

In essence, this would be a way for teams with lower budgets to either acquire more cash (by selling import slots) or assets and players (via trade). Because these orgs cannot afford to challenge the payrolls of a team like TL, C9, or TSM, they can wait, get a bunch of money for the import slot they can’t really take advantage of anyway, and reload for the future.

This would also, inadvertently, encourage orgs (especially orgs with fewer resources) to develop native talent. If you can fill out your org with only native talent, that frees you up to sell those import slots and marshall more resources for the future.

And, to be clear, teams would only be able to trade their import slot for one (maybe two) years. Teams that buy or acquire import slots are effectively going all-in on their rosters, so getting a bunch of imports and failing is not only going to be embarrassing, it’s going to be costly. They’ll have a bunch of players they may not be able to keep next season and have spent a lot of resources to get them, putting a big-spending team in a tricky situation.