Riot Games is making a big change to its professional League of Legends championship series in North America. Back in June, the developer announced a major shift for the NA LCS, which would see the circuit move from a system of promotion and relegation to one with 10 permanent teams. Now, Riot is revealing the 10 franchises that will compete in the new league format starting next year, and the list includes brand-new teams backed by the likes of the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. “We wanted partners who shared our mindset for building for the long term,” says Jarred Kennedy, co-head of Riot’s e-sports division. According to Riot, the shift to permanent teams was made with an eye toward the future growth of the league. With a guaranteed spot for each squad, the thinking is that each owner will be more likely to invest in their team for the long haul. That includes things like creating training facilities, as well as investing in areas like coaching, scouting, and player wellness. Each of the 10 teams will have an academy squad, designed to give up-and-comers a chance to learn before going pro, and Riot is also working to improve the standards for players, which includes raising the minimum salary to $75,000. (Riot says that on average League pros make around $150,000 per year.) The league is also creating a players’ association to support its athletes with financial, legal, and career-building resources. The permanent franchise structure is common in North American leagues like the NBA and NFL, and the new slate of teams for the NA LCS includes a number of prominent names from the traditional sports world. Seven of the clubs previously competed in the league — Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, Echo Fox, FlyQuest, Team Liquid, and TSM — while the remainder are new faces. They include Clutch Gaming, backed by the Rockets; the Golden Guardians, which is owned by the Warriors; and 100 Thieves, backed by both former e-sports pro Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Optic Gaming, meanwhile, is a new addition that has previous experience with teams in games like Overwatch and Dota 2. Much like the upcoming Overwatch League from Blizzard, Riot’s