Major structural changes made to LCS 2021, new tournament introduced

The North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), one of Riot Games’ top-tier franchise leagues in LoL esports, has made some major adjustments to the season’s format.

LCS Finals
Credit: Riot Games

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The league, commencing January 15th, has introduced ‘LCS Lock In’ for the upcoming season — an inaugural three-week tournament that offers $150,000 (~£111,693) to the winning team, plus $50,000 (~£37,184) for the team to donate to a charity of its choice. The performance’s in this competition will contribute to regular-season or playoff seeding.

Like before, the season will be split into two parts: Spring and Summer. However, regular-season records will now be combined to seed the penultimate LCS Championship playoffs.

The regular season begins with a shortened Spring Split, consisting of a double round-robin over six weeks instead of nine weeks. However, teams will still be playing the same number of games as last season due to the fact that the league will evenly spread 15 games each week across three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).

The Spring playoffs have also been renamed the Mid-Season Showdown (MSS). The MSS winner will become LCS champion, and represent NA at 2021’s first global competition, the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI).

The new-look Summer Split regular season will consist of a triple round-robin over nine weeks, giving teams “one more shot to rise to the top of NA and onto the global stage,” according to an official LoL release.

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The domestic season for NA will conclude with the LCS Championship, which will combine the team’s  Spring and Summer record. The LCS Championship has been ‘fine-tuned’ to prevent teams playing two series in the same week, to avoid rematches until later in the playoffs, and to give side-selection advantage to teams that most recently dropped out of the upper bracket.

Esports Insider says: The LCS is attempting to improve the performance of North American League of Legends at global events after a poor showing at Worlds 2020. The hope is that more games, paired with an ‘overhauled amateur ecosystem’ will equate to better performance. Fan reception to the changes has been mostly positive, but it’s hard to imagine any significant impact will be felt during the first year of changes.

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