The League of Legends Pro League in China is reportedly planning to impose salary caps on competing teams in an attempt to increase “financial fairness” and promote the longevity of the league. An algorithm will assess players’ individual performances and distribute them into a tier system. Each tier will have its own salary cap.
According to the report on Chinese site Hupu, the system takes inspiration from NBA basketball, introducing a ‘luxury tax’ on any wages over the threshold of the cap. The goal is to prevent All-Star teams from forming, as the tax will make the wages unaffordable. It is expected that high-level players will regularly change teams in order to maximise their wages, a change that LPL encourages, as it believes it will be “more conducive to the balance of team strength.”
However, fans are not impressed. While largely unopposed to a salary cap, the algorithm itself is worrying. Depending on how much weight it gives to certain statistics and achievements, it could dramatically change the landscape of the LPL.
For instance, if the algorithm pushes players with a high KDA into higher tiers, then support players will be unfairly punished. Fans also pointed out that players needing kills to increase their own salaries could also lead to kill stealing and deincentivise risky plays that make tournaments so exciting.
Fans are also worried that the change could impact how LPL teams perform at LoL Worlds. They could be at a disadvantage when playing against teams from other leagues that field stronger lineups due to the absence of a salary cap. The change could also see top LPL pros leave for teams in other leagues where there are no salary caps to earn bigger paychecks and play alongside similarly skilled players.
LPL hasn’t released any details of how the cap will be rolled out, or the particular mechanics of the algorithm, but it is clear the league believes this is the right decision for securing its future and maintaining healthy competition.