The news of League of Legends's casters not going to Korea for the World Championship 2018 has opened up the floodgates of enquiries and as Riot Games took to reddit to "fight" these allegations, they invariably confirmed the budget cuts.
In case you haven't been following, the news of English speaking casters League of Legends' WC 2018 came from caster Vedius, who confirmed they'll indeed be casting from Los Angeles. With rumours running amok, the leader of LOL's global esports events team FearGorm took to reddit to explain the situation.
As tends to be common with PR talk, FearGorm didn't provide a straightforward answer to the question of whether there's budget cutting in place, but his lengthy reply boils down to yes. He said that League of Legends' esports scene is out of the startup phase and that the goal is to make it financially sustainable.
"Now that we've built something awesome, we're going to start exercising more discipline around holding ourselves to financial constraints as revenue continues to pick up", he added. Seeing as how League of Legends' esports business is far from breaking even, Riot will "cut or scale back [things] that fans don't care about, while continuing to invest in the areas fans do care about."
FearGorm pointed out that if revenue picks up over the next 3 years or so, their budget can stay the same or increase. If not, however, it will "need to decrease by some amount". Strangely enough, in the same paragraph, he noted that 2017 is a transition year in which Riot is experimenting with cutting back costs "to see how the fans feel about it".
As you'd expect, the thread blew up with disgruntled fans, very few of whom had nice things to say about Riot Games. Examples of Valve's Dota 2 and Blizzard's Overwatch are being tossed around as examples of how an esports scene should be managed and we're unlikely to have heard the last of it.