Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends is set to revamp the European League of Legends Championship Series in 2018 to a regional format, according to reports from ESPN.
The report suggests that the format will be split into four regions before branching into a format inspired by the Champions League. It suggests that the four regions will be in Paris, Berlin, London and Barcelona before the top teams in each region compete in a mixed pool to help determine World Championships qualification.
The move also suggests that “participating teams will be granted a multiyear license from Riot Games to compete in the league” thus eliminating the fear of relegation and effectively moving towards a franchise model sparsely seen in traditional sports in Europe. Whereas the plans for the North American LCS franchising have already been clearly outlined, with player conditions, team and player revenue share percentages, there are very little details about how the European system will work.
Currently the European LCS holds ten teams, but with the regional split ESPN’s report suggests that each region will house six teams thus increasing the number of teams to a whopping 24. The top two teams of each domestic league will qualify into the “greater league” which will run alongside the competitive seasons of the domestic league — in a similar way to the Champions League in football. The 3rd and 4th place teams in the leagues will compete in a play-in and the fifth and sixth will go in an open qualifier. As a result, it seems as if each team in each region will have their chance to qualify for the greater league regardless of season performance.
The larger league will have a total of sixteen teams, so only eight will miss out. It will have a number of group stages before moving onto a double elimination bracket. Qualification for World Championships will include the winner of the aforementioned greater league and the Championship Points system currently used will also have a bearing on who else makes Worlds.
Interestingly, the report suggests that Riot hosted a number of professional football teams at the recent European finals in Paris to showcase the game in all its glory. With Paris Saint-Germain and Schalke 04 currently the only teams to house a League of Legends team, it will be interesting to see if other organisations that have dropped their proverbial toe in the water with FIFA players will branch out and enter the League of Legends space.
The news also comes after H2K released an open letter criticising Riot for the financial agreements in place for the EU LCS. Without the franchise system and revenue share in place they argue that running a team is extremely cost-heavy and there’s not enough return considering the sunk costs. The move would suggest that will go someway to alleviating aforementioned fear, as a franchise system and multi-year agreement may well point to the fact that some sort of revenue-share agreement will be put in place.
Esports Insider says: League of Legends coming to London — potentially! Some positive news for UK esports and hopefully this goes someway to alleviate the gripes of organisations such as H2K. Obviously until Riot announces further details it’s impossible to truly assess the scope, but with the alleged application of European teams for the NA LCS franchising spots, it goes to show that these organisations desire a system somewhat similar to that in America.