League of Legends LCS: The LCS format changes will help NA teams

League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /
Team Liquid. League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games /

Riot announced sweeping changes to the North American League of Legends professional scene and the new LCS format should benefit NA teams internationally.

After a 2019 season where LCS teams disappointed internationally, North American League of Legends fans were clamoring for parties to blame and solutions to right the ship. From LCS teams not investing the domestic talent properly, the size and talent level on the NA server, and a lack of identity on the part of NA teams. Luckily, Riot has made some sweeping changes to help solve at least some of the problems.

Today, Riot announced massive changes to the LCS format for the 2020 season, including a new broadcast schedule that will feature more Academy games, eliminating the Regional Qualifier, and new playoff systems. All of these changes should have a positive impact on how NA teams will perform on the Worlds stage. But what are all the changes and what do they mean?

Schedule Changes

The most talked-about aspect of the announcement was Riot’s decision to expand the LCS broadcast schedule from its typical Saturday/Sunday split to now run from Friday to Monday. Even more importantly, those broadcasts will also feature a lot more Academy matches prominently, as opposed to having the games relegated to their own broadcast.

League of Legends/Riot Games
League of Legends/Riot Games /

More from Blog of Legends

These changes are, obviously, massive for the LCS’s burgeoning Academy scene, as players will have more incentive to try and make these teams to get further exposure. The additional exposure should also incentivize the LCS teams to funnel more of their resources to their Academy system, and perhaps invest further in other “farm” leagues like collegiate League of Legends.

For the LCS, though, I think this schedule change is an even bigger boost. By spreading out the games over more days, players and teams will have more opportunities where they can watch and observe their opponents rather than just playing. The fact that teams won’t all be playing on the exact same days also provides some interesting opportunities for teams to scrim with new partners to accommodate their schedules, or else find new ways to train.

Bye-bye Gauntlet

The Regional Qualifier tournament, famous for helping C9 continue their streak of Worlds appearances and letting Clutch Gaming into Worlds last year, is no more. Ditto for the Championship Points, which gave a floundering 100 Thieves team a spot at Worlds in 2018.

Instead, Riot has completely revamped the LCS playoff format for both the Spring and Summer Splits to become double-elimination brackets. Spring playoffs will now only serve to determine the LCS representative at MSI, while the summer playoffs will determine not only the LCS winner but all three LCS teams that will be going to Worlds.

While I don’t like the fact that the Spring Split is now basically rendered useless (I’d like to have the summer playoffs seeding perhaps affected by spring placement), overall I think this is a good change. It gives better teams more chances to come back and make a run to Worlds, without risking being knocked out by just one bad series. For reference, here is how the 2019 Summer Split playoffs would have been seeded and my rough guess as to how the playoffs would have played out under the new system:

Created by Josh Tyler of BlogOfLegends.com
Created by Josh Tyler of BlogOfLegends.com /

So, as you can see, the outcome would very likely be the same as it was under the old system, but there would be opportunities for teams like 100 Thieves (who I think were coming on strong later in the year) to continue to improve or teams like CLG (who fell victim to running into that hot Clutch team early in the Gauntlet) more time to prepare and get their redemption.

Academy changes

The final big change Riot announced is with regards to the LCS Academy, specifically the Academy broadcast. RIot announced that the Friday night Academy games would be played and broadcast as part of the new “Academy Rush” where four games will be played simultaneously and casters will jump back and forth between these games.

Next. Ranking the 50 greatest LCS players of the 2010s. dark

While this does seem a bit chaotic, on first glance, the idea is very much similar to the NFL Redzone channel, where broadcasters jump between games, bringing you highlights of recent action. I don’t think this will have much of an impact on the level of play in Academy, but I do think it could give more options and lessons to Riot of how it can iterate and improve their broadcast going forward.

The LCS regular season returns Saturday, January 25, at 2 PM PST.