League of Legends‘ developer Riot Games has decided to drastically change the way the EU LCS (League of Legends Championship Series) operates for the upcoming 2018 season, a surprise departure from the recently updated format it had experienced just one year before.
Over the course of 2017, Riot has “conducted analysis on viewership trends and ran community and player feedback sessions to evaluate the results of the 2017 format,” to find out whether the switch to a best of 2 match style that was decided upon in the preseason of 2017 was in fact a good choice.
What Riot discovered was that “the switch to Bo3 has made watching the EU LCS more difficult and less enjoyable.” As a result of this, Riot will be switching back to a Bo1 (best of 1) as to not alienate fans who don’t have the time to watch a potential of five games every time a match occurs. This move to help fans get back into watching LCS games will also affect broadcasting days, which will now be moving from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday only.
Riot will also be eliminating relegation so that “teams will have more security when making investments in infrastructure, sponsorships, rosters and team strategies.” This change most likely stems from the recent EU teams that have voiced their concern with relegation essentially putting them on the chopping block after investing hundreds of thousands of euros to sustain their team.
Economics, My Dear Watson
The changes to relegation also come with changes to how Riot handles the economics of esports for League of Legends. Riot has announced that a partnership model “where league revenue is shared amongst all parties” is the best course of action to sustain the ecosystem for teams. This announcement could stem from the recent ultimatum given by EU LCS team H2K, who stated that unless Riot offer a better deal(like revenue sharing) for teams, then it would no longer participate in the LCS as the team had reported it was losing upwards of €1,000,000 annually.
However, Riot states that this type of revenue sharing partnership system would begin in 2019, and because of this, Riot will provide increased financial support for teams for the year to “alleviate some immediate pressure.” Teams can also look forward to viewership bonuses so that teams who build their brands and promote their matches can share in the success of LCS.
The Challenger Series, an amateur championship series for upcoming pros, will be removed as part of these changes. Riot says that “the current structure doesn’t meet these goals – overall it’s a high-risk, high-investment system for teams without stability for pros, and limited exposure.”
To replace the series, Riot will be introducing a pan-European tournament that will involve teams from varying countries to compete to not only gain exposure in a professional environment, but experience as well. These tournaments will run twice a year, and the top teams will be able to battle it out on the rift for a grand prize.