LCS: Why Eliminating the Spring Split Makes the League Stronger

Los Angeles, California - February 8: --- during 2020 LCS Spring Split at the LCS Arena on February 8, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, USA.. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
Los Angeles, California - February 8: --- during 2020 LCS Spring Split at the LCS Arena on February 8, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, USA.. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games) /
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League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

The LCS is reportedly preparing to eliminate the Spring Split starting in 2021 and that might have some big benefits.

3. Flexible Schedule

Right now, there are two nine-week splits (18 weeks total) with 10 games per week that makes up the LCS season (180 games total). With the rumor that the LCS is switching to one long season with each team playing each other five times, that means the LCS season will have 225 total games (each half of a split is 45 games total and each team will play each other one extra time in 2021).

If we divide those 225 total games the LCS will play next year by 18 weeks, we begin to see a bit of a problem. 225 divided by 18 is 12.5; since there’s no way to play half a game each week, that means the LCS will either have to subtract or (more likely) add weeks to the season. Unfortunately, the only way to make it so there is a whole number of games played per week is to either shorten the season to 15 weeks (225/15 = 15) or increase the season to 25 weeks (225/25 = 9).

Now, shortening the season to 15 weeks does seem to jive with what Travis has heard, that there will be three days of a full broadcast. With a 15-week season, there would be 15 games per week or five games per broadcast, just like there are now.

However, I don’t necessarily believe that is best for the LCS.

Remember, the league used to have “Super Weeks” where teams were made to play three or more games in a three-day weekend. Riot did away with those Super Weeks to not put so much strain on the players, so it’s hard to see them reverting that.

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Instead, I think that the LCS will go to a 25-week schedule, with three games per day. That requires adding seven weeks to the LCS regular season, which sounds like a challenge until you really dig into the schedule.

Let’s assume the LCS season starts at the same time the old Spring Split did. That means games begin the last week of January and run through at least the last week of March.

The next week would begin the LCS Spring Split Playoffs, which would run through the second or third week of April. Now, with no need for a full Spring Playoffs we get back another two or three weeks for regular season play. Since Travis said there would be a mini-tournament to determine the LCS representative at MSI, we’ll assume that takes one week so we’ll give it two extra weeks for the LCS and five needed.

Speaking of MSI, that normally takes place two weeks after the end of the Spring Split Playoffs, the Summer Split then begins two weeks after MSI. Well, instead of making that period of pre and post MSI a break, the LCS could simply continue running. That adds four weeks to the LCS schedule and we only need to tack one extra week to the end to hit a 25-week schedule.

“Hold on now,” you might say, “the team that’s going to MSI can’t play during that period so the schedule is messed up!” That is true, but there is one other wrinkle in this 25-week schedule that could solve the issue.

Because there are only nine games played per week, that means that not every team will play two games per week. Two teams would get only one game per week or Riot could give teams bye weeks where they don’t play at all. In a bye-week type system, teams would get two or three weeks off per year; Riot could easily re-tool the roster based on the MSI attendee so that their bye weeks are immediately before or after the tournament.

While this may seem like a big disadvantage to the MSI team because they are essentially losing their bye weeks to travel and practice at MSI. However, it’s not like the other LCS teams will be fully taking their bye weeks off themselves. Plus, the MSI team gets to scrim and play against international opponents, which is valuable experience.

Is this all worth it? Maybe not. But a 25-week season also opens up one tantalizing opportunity for the LCS: the return of Best-of-3 series.

Because the season is so much longer, there will only be three matches per broadcast. That seems a bit light, no? So maybe the LCS could re-introduce Bo3 series (or even Bo2 like the LPL has). This increases the number of games even more and opens up the possibility for more on-stage games, which is great for everyone.

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The point is, no matter how the LCS slices up the new schedule, we’re getting more games overall. More games means either more breaks for the players in a shorter season and more games over a longer season (games less frequently). That opens up the possibility for more international competitions sprinkled throughout the season like the return of Rift Rivals or an NA version of the KeSPA Cup.

In any case, I’m excited to see where the LCS goes now that the Spring Split is going away. It’s a new era of the LCS, one which (hopefully) allows the league to thrive once again.