The new seasons of the European and North American League of Legends Championship Series are fast approaching and they’re set to be the most competitive splits in the league’s history. Riot altered the formats for both the EU and NA LCS ahead of the Summer Split, receiving mixed reviews from the community for their abandonment of the classic best-of-one system in favour of a longer multi-stream setup. Ahead of the new season, Riot Games have outlined a number of changes for the new season.
With both the European and North American scenes now stacked with talent, Riot Games are keen to deliver on their promise for the most exciting season of League of Legends to date. Riot’s shift towards multi-game match series were initially met with considerable backlash, particularly from the European fan base, who would be forced to endure a stale best-of-two format and unsatisfying ties.
Having listened to the communities feedback, Riot have constructed a new look for the LCS, coupled with an entirely new arbitration system as the eSport continues to develop. Here is a basic outline of what to expect when the seasons begin next month:
New Arbitration Process
Riot Games have been frequently scrutinised for their inconsistent handing of complicated disputes, an ironically consistent thorn in the company’s side. The eSports team have understandably implemented a significant overhaul to the arbitration process between teams, players, and the company to dampen the issue.
Both Riot’s NA and EU eSports teams will now consult with an external third party for arbitration, with two concrete judgements outlined for any offenders: fines starting from $10,000 or €10,000, and suspensions for one or more games. Riot’s shift towards using an independent party (arbitration company JAMS in the case for the NA LCS) is a significant move for a company which has previously sought to keep every aspect of their eSports scene under one roof.
The weight of the community’s scorn has clearly influenced Riot’s decision, though they maintain that “traditional” arbitration will take place in more complicated disputes.
EU Shifting to a Best-of-three
Despite their love of ties, European fans can celebrate an additional game in their match series for Season 7. EU will be adapting a best-of-three format for the regular season to emulate the leagues in NA and Korea, finally ditching the loathed best-of-two. From this point onwards, the EU LCS structure starts to get a little complicated.
The 10 EU teams will be divided into two groups – with a draft scheduled for early January – the group drafts will allow teams to avoid unfavourable match-ups by sending perceived rivals to the opposing group, simultaneously randomising the groups as each team will try to reflect their own preferences. To explain this with clarity, Riot have provided an intriguing diagram containing a sprawl of arrows:
Whilst complicated, this change is ultimately positive, as it incentivises teams to perform well consistently throughout the Season; the team with the highest championship points will get first picks in each group for the following split.
Relegation Remains In Both Regions
Despite the continued efforts of LCS team owners to install a franchising model, Riot have remained strong in their stance and will continue with the pre-existing relegation system.
“We believe it’s important to the overall health and entertainment value of the NA LCS to balance the relegation risk that teams face with a competitive and engaging league.
“With new organisations entering the NA LCS, we want to provide opportunities for teams to grow by building their fanbase but still ensuring the best teams remain in the League.”
Riot Games Official Announcement
The slight tweak is that only the bottom two teams in the standings will be sent to the promotional tournament, rather than three. The top two teams from the Challenger Series will still have the opportunity to replace the bottom two of the regular season of the previous split, but the format for the promotional tournament has shifted to a double elimination best-of-five.
No More LCS Slot Farming
As Cloud9 finalise their cool $2.5 million deal to sell off the LCS slot earned by Cloud9 Challenger’s promotion from the NACS, Riot have clamped down to close the loopholes that allowed the team to profit. NA and EU LCS sister teams will still be allowed to operate in the Challenger Series, but will now be forbidden from participating in the promotional tournament for an LCS slot.
Sister teams will still be able to compete for prize money, but unable to sell their regular season spot. Riot’s decision will put an end to the “farming” of LCS slots and may yet allow the Challenger Series to fulfil its actual purpose as a training ground for both aspiring pros and teams that wish to test out new players.