LCS Changing Match Format
Among the pantheon of regions represented in professional League of Legends, Europe and North America are a bit of an anomaly in terms of their match format system. While the other two big regions (China/Korea) use Bo2 and Bo3 formats respectively, their European and American counterparts have been stuck in a best-of-one format since their foundation. Recently it has been announced that this will be changes in favor of the aforementioned “best of” formats, but not until the summer splits of the EU and NA League of Legends Championship Series. North America will take a Bo3 style of play, while Europe will play in a Bo2 format. While we are a long way from the summer of 2016 it’s not too early to look into the implications of the change of format.
The Bo3 format for tournament play has been known to produce the best possible results in a competition. Traditional sports like baseball, hockey, and basketball have all employed this series style of play in their playoffs, and this in turn has produced some of the most memorable moments in sports history. The same can be said for Korea’s LCK and China’s LPL, where the best of series has produced some of the most iconic games in League of Legends history. Moments like Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s historic outplay on Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook in a Zed vs Zed mirror match were made possible through the Bo3 format that they enjoy. When viewed through that lens it is an exciting time to be a fan of the NA and EU LCS, but there have been problems with the season-of-series style of games in other sports.
Picture courtesy of Tech Insider
One potential issue that some might point out is that in series formatted seasons, there is a trend of franchises becoming recurring champions. In the previously mentioned traditional sports, teams like the Yankees, Celtics, and Red Wings have built reputations for multiple championship wins. Unlike single elimination tournaments like the Super Bowl, the series format allows teams to adjust strategies for the overall win. Teams with solid infrastructure like the ones mentioned above win so consistently because of their ability to adjust from game to game. This could happen in the EU and NA LCS as well, creating powerhouse teams that are seemingly unbeatable.
This argument can be debunked by the sheer number of roster moves that come at the end of every season. With players mostly signed to one year contracts, the talent leaves the team after a year or less. In traditional sports talented players are signed to several year contracts, with players only leaving before their contract expiration if they’re traded away. Until players in eSports start acquiring the contracts of traditional sports, it’s highly unlikely to see a team acquire as many championships as the Yankees. There have been teams to win multiple regional championships, but it’s hard to imagine a team winning that many world championships with all the roster swaps.
Screenshot courtesy of YouTube
The advent of the new series style of LCS split has the potential to shake up the current team ranking in Europe and North America. Furthermore, it can potentially make the top teams of each region much more ready for the rigors of the World Championship. Thus, so far we’ve only seen what a few EU and NA teams can do in the best of format, but these examples were immediately following a season of BO1. It’ll be very interesting to see next year’s World Championship with reinvigorated LCS teams who are completely ready for the strategy that comes in a season of Bo3 or Bo2 matches. This isn’t to say that the teams from season two till now were unpracticed, but their Chinese and Korean counterparts were much more accustomed to the series format.
It is far too soon to begin predicting what teams will adapt best to the new LCS format in the summer, as there is still a spring split for them to fight through. Nevertheless, the prospect of a new element to spice up the slightly stagnant LCS has the League community buzzing. In these winter days of little in the way of professional League of Legends it is on the small things like roster swaps, and team buy-outs that the community clings to in anticipation for the next season. With this new bit of information the excitement surrounding the 2016 season is bolstered to new heights.
Vidalgo 11 December 2015, 17:42 927 0