One of Riot Games biggest franchises and perhaps one of if not the biggest esports betting franchise in the world, the North American League of Legends Championship Series (or the LCS for short) has been a prime fixture in esports since its introduction in 2013. It has recently fallen under some scrutiny however following the long string of poor performances for the NA region at international events, alongside the difficulty within the amateur scene where younger talent may not have had the best opportunities to progress. This has led to the announcement of some major adjustments for the tournament for 2021 and the future of the franchise, with some of these adjustments being passed on to other regions too.
LCS Lock-In – This new tournament will proceed the regular LCS season and commences January 15th – the three weeks start to the LCS season will offer a $150,000 prize to the winning team plus a $50,000 pot to donate to a charity of the winning team’s choice, with the performance contributing to seeding throughout the regular and play-off seasons. This offers an incentive to start the year off well with both cash and points up for grabs.
A combined split – Previous years had the Spring and Summer splits separated which had led to some issues with the Spring split largely being undervalued and not taken as seriously as the summer split. To combat this, whilst the seasons will remain split in a sense, results from both are combined for seeding and the chance to attend the final event of the year, the League of Legends World Championships. The Spring split will now occur over six-weeks rather than the original nine, with the end of split playoffs being renamed to the Mid-Season Showdown with the winning team being given the opportunity to represent North America at the first international event of the year, the Mid-Season Invitational. The summer split will then occur over nine-weeks, and the team with the best results over both splits will be in the running’s to attend worlds.
The LCS Championship – There have also been minor adjustments to the end of season event too in order to crown the champs of NA – ensuring that there aren’t rematches between teams until later stretches of the playoffs given more opportunities for teams to compete, and adjustments to side selection for those who have fallen out of the upper bracket early give a little more balance.
There’s certainly a lot of excitement for these changes being the first big adjustment to regular play in some time, and with the hopes that this will not only make the regular season itself more competitive amongst North American teams but will also help the region on the international stage as teams are required to be much more prepared than they have seemingly been in recent years – punters have typically not given the NA region good odds with league of legends betting too, so many may welcome this change more as it could creative a more competitive betting market with the large growth being seen in esports betting as a whole.
This change has went hand in hand with an amateur team ecosystem change too – an approach has been taken for academy and amateur teams to have a much more open tournament system where more competition can be had with the ultimate goal of progressing on to the LCS – much of the criticism for the NA region has come through as many rising stars don’t get the opportunity to play for the big teams as veterans are recycled and imported players are common, and this change hopes to upset that balance and bring newer rising players in with more opportunity to show their ability.