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LCS 2023: Fans slam Riot Games for removing desk host Dash

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League of Legends fans have voiced their disappointment and criticized Riot Games for cutting desk host James “Dash” Patterson from the League Championship Series (LCS) broadcast in 2023.

The LoL community took to Twitter to voice their protests against Dash’s cut from the tournament. They also accused the game developer of mistreating Dash, who had contributed significantly to the League esports scene in North America for years.

LoL fans on Reddit even said that Riot’s action was an effort to “kill” the LCS to push VALORANT forward, the latter has grown more popular in North America recently. Fans suggested Riot allow co-streaming for the LCS if the company wanted to cut costs.

Dash first announced the news on his Twitter account, saying that “the new direction of the LCS doesn’t have a need for a consistent host.” During a live stream after that announcement, Dash provided more information about his removal from the event.

Dash, who won 2022 Esports Host of the Year, said that Riot did not negotiate with him before announcing that his services were not needed anymore. The 31-year-old broadcaster said he was disappointed by the lack of transparency on Riot’s end.

“After spending a decade, you know, giving a 100 percent of myself to something, that I didn’t feel that kind of respect given back towards me in that moment of just having a conversation about ‘hey, we want to make changes, and can we arrive at a decision, that, you know, with you,’” Dash said.

According to Dash, Riot’s decision to remove him from the LCS was related to its new format and game schedule. Last year, Riot announced that it would shift the gameday from weekends to Thursdays and Wednesdays.

The host added that he was still in discussion with Riot about possible collaboration this year. He may still make appearances during key moments of the tournament, although nothing has been confirmed.

Dash had worked with Riot since 2014 as a part of its esports coordinator team. Over the years, he also participated in several international tournaments, including the Worlds and the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI).

The long-time LCS host said he was looking for other career options, including acting and streaming. Dash added that he would only shift toward other esports if they accepted him.

Other than Dash, the LCS broadcasting crew also lost caster David “Phreak” Turley last December. Phreak was recruited by Riot to be a game designer on the Summoner’s Rift team. The 35-year-old said the new position was his original aspiration since his college years.

As of writing, Riot has not responded to backlash over Dash’s removal from its crew. Riot, however, retweeted Dash’s announcement about stepping back from the LCS.

LCS’s declining popularity

Analysts have said that the LCS’s popularity declines steadily in recent years. The tournament gained exponential attention in its early years due to the popularity of its key players, including Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.

Very few new players, however, can gain the same level of popularity as past LoL icons. Fans also said that the LCS was unable to showcase players’ personalities. Viewers also accused the LCS of trying to copy the traditional sports format, rather than developing its own unique identity.

According to Esports charts, the LCS 2022 Summer Split had the lowest rate of average concurrent viewers, 115,545, in the last six years. Its peak concurrent viewers of 370,178 were the second lowest within the same period.

Analysts and fans argued that Riot’s decision to move the gameday to weekdays would result in a further decline in viewership. They said it would cost the organizer viewers from the European Union.

Like fans, analysts have also predicted that Riot is currently trying to promote its upcoming VALORANT Champions Tour, which includes the Americas League. In North America, specifically, VALORANT events gain higher viewership than LoL.