LCS: Why the Addition of 100 Thieves Next is a Step Forward

Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games.
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games. /
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Nemesis, Fnatic. League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

A Path to the Pros

Amateur Leagues in North America are all over the place in terms of their skill level. They can range from teams made up of five friends from solo queue, all the way to established organizations big and small. College League of Legends teams compete against both amateur and college teams. This makes it so the path to the LCS isn’t linear and the skills of these teams can very greatly.

Traditional sports have a defined system of development, starting in high school, then college, then rising through the minor league system, and eventually ending in the pros. In League of Legends there is no defined track, so players can bounce from one level to a lower level then back. This makes it difficult to track a players progress toward finding a spot in the LCS.

If more teams were added outside of academy it could help fix this issue. One option would be implementing a system close to what they have in Europe on a path to the LEC.

Teams play in smaller regional leagues, which also includes LEC academy teams. The best teams in those leagues then face off in the Eu Masters league to further challenge themselves.  This gives the LEC and even other regions opportunities to scout players at high-level competitions without risking academy spots.

The approach seems to work well. For example, Nemesis and Selfmade of Fnatic both came up from the Mad Lions (a different team than the rebranded Splyce currently in the LEC) and had strong 2019 seasons. Crownshot and Werlyb also went from that team to spots on SK Gaming. Players that don’t make LEC rosters can also find second chances on any of these regional league teams and it keeps the system competitive and balanced with veterans and new talent playing side by side in the league often with the same goal of making it to the LEC.

Another option for this new LCS minor league could follow a similar pattern to Major League Baseball’s minor league system. It would include a number of teams feeding into each organization, around four to six depending on how many minor leagues you want to add with each league being a step up in skill level from the next. For example, I would place the current academy teams as equal to a AAA team in baseball. They would hold the LCS bench players and the hot-shot prospects until they are ready to start in the LCS.

Then you would have teams below that to fill with varying degrees of talent based on how close they are to making an LCS roster. I would also leave a team open just for organizations to sign young, rookie talent and draft picks from Scouting Grounds or other in-house scouting events. That way you have a nice mix of veteran players and rookies in the organization.

The minor league system also gives you that way to track player development, as you get to see how close, or far away players are from making the jump to the LCS. It would provide a more stable and measurable path to the pros that the LCS is lacking in the current system, which mostly involves a complex web of sighing and cutting players with no really way to measure LCS readiness.

Even if the LCS organization branded teams are playing in amateur leagues, this should be better for the leagues and players. The players on amateur teams will get the chance to play against pro/academy teams with presumably better players, thus improving the level of competition in these amateur leagues. Improving the talent at all levels of the game should make it more likely for teams to find the next great player from North America. The minor league system would allow that to happen more often than in the current academy system.