Riot Games partnered with Echo Fox and 10 other esports organizations in 2017, granting them permanent franchise status, in exchange for a $10 million fee. A lot of big players, including professional sports teams like the New York Yankees and Cleveland Cavaliers, jumped at the chance to enter. Since then, the league has been pretty stable, apart from a merger between Team Dignitas and Clutch Gaming. However, this will be the first time that one of the LCS's original franchises has completely left the league since franchising began.
The problems with Echo Fox started when owner and former NBA star Rick Fox announced he was departing the team over racial abuse from a team investor directed at former CEO Jace Hall, as originally reported by Dexerto. Riot Games then launched an investigation, with LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley promising to "respond accordingly, based on available actions within our team agreements and the LCS Rules."
Following the investigation, LCS said in a statement that "hate speech threats, and bigotry have no place in the LCS." It ordered Echo Fox to either sell the franchise slot or take action against the ownership group, but it did neither. Now, Riot will sell the team itself, and opened up a 30-day application for the slot. Organizations can apply for partnership in the same way the original teams did, and Riot will choose one in time for the 2020 season.