League of Legends Championship Series

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League of Legends Championship Series
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2018 Spring EU LCS
2018 Spring NA LCS
League of Legends Champion Series Logo.jpg.png
Sport League of Legends
Founded 2013
Owner(s) Riot Games
Director Dustin "RedBeard" Beck
No. of teams 2013 - 2014: 8
2015 - Present: 10
Continents Europe
North America
Most recent
champion(s)
Europe: Fnatic (7th title)
North America: Team Liquid (2nd title)
Most titles EU: Fnatic (7 titles)
NA: Team SoloMid (6 titles)
Relegation to 2013 - 2018: League of Legends Challenger Series
2018 - Present: Franchising NA
2019: Franchising EU
Related
competitions
Champions Korea
Garena Premier League
Master Series
Pro League
Official website www.lolesports.com

The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) is the name of two professional League of Legends eSports leagues run by Riot Games. Twenty teams compete in two separate competitions in Europe and North America, with ten teams per continent. Each annual season of play is divided into two splits, spring and summer and conclude with play-off tournaments between the top six teams from each region respectively. At the end of the season, the winner of the summer split, the team with the most championship points, and the winner of the gauntlet tournament in each league qualify for the annual League of Legends World Championship.

The LCS represents the highest level of League of Legends play in Europe and North America. The European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS) has a promotion and relegation system similar to that found in many other European sports, such as football: The bottom teams in the EU LCS from each split compete with the top teams from the European Challenger Series (EU CS) to compete for spots in the next split of the EU LCS.[1] The European Challenger Series is composed of six teams: three teams which failed to advance in the previous promotion tournament, one team from the previous EU CS split, and the top two teams from ranked ladder play in the public League of Legends online game server.[2] The North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) has a franchised league, consisting of 10 teams. However, even franchised teams can still be expelled from the NA LCS for poor performance.[3] Contrary to the EU LCS, this does not happen through a promotion and relegation tournament against the top teams from the secondary league, and expelled teams are unable to re-enter the NA LCS.

With the exception of some touring events, all games of the LCS are played live at Riot Games' studios in Adlershof, Berlin, Germany and Los Angeles, California, United States. In addition to a small studio audience, all games are streamed live in several languages on Twitch.tv, YouTube and Azubu, with broadcasts regularly attracting over 300,000 viewers.[4]

The popularity and success of the LCS has attracted significant media attention. On September 30, 2016, the French Senate unanimously adopted the last version of the Numeric Law, significantly improving the visa process for LCS players and eSports athletes in general, giving a legal frame to eSports contracts, introducing mechanisms to ensure payment of cash prizes, specifying rights for minor eSport athletes, and more.[5] A few months before, France also introduced a new eSports federation, “France eSports”, which has the duty to be a representative body of eSports towards the government and serve as a “partner of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee for all matters relating to the recognition of electronic sports as sport in itself.”[6] The US government is also granting athlete visas for LCS competitors.[7][8] The first LCS player to be awarded a P visa was Danny "Shiphtur" Le.[9][7] The LCS has attracted sponsorships from Acer[10] Coca-Cola[11] and American Express.[12] "League of Legends Championship Series" is a Delaware limited liability company.[13]

In the EU LCS, Fnatic is the only team remaining that has played in every split since the first EU LCS split. In the NA LCS, Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming are the only teams remaining from the first NA LCS split.

History[edit]

Riot Games launched League of Legends in October 2009 and rapidly attracted[14] attention from the competitive gaming community. The first two seasons of competitive play consisted of a series of tournaments mostly organised by third parties, such as Intel Extreme Masters in Europe and Major League Gaming in North America, capped by a world championship tournament hosted by Riot Games.[15]

Riot Games announced the formation of the LCS on 6 August 2012,[16] creating a fully professional league run by the company with a regular schedule and guaranteed salaries for players, featuring eight teams in both North America and Europe. Since the LCS was only launched in the third year of professional play, it was immediately dubbed "Season 3". The top three finishers in both the Riot Games European and North American regional championships held in August 2012 automatically qualified, with the remaining five teams being decided in qualifier tournaments held in January 2013. Each LCS season is divided into two splits for spring and summer; the first games of the first spring split took place on 7 February 2013 in North America and on 9 February 2013 in Europe.

Season 3 of the LCS finished with the summer split playoffs, held on 23 to 25 August in Europe at the Gamescom in 2013, which was held in the Koelnmesse in Cologne, North Rine-Westphalia, Germany, and 30 August to 1 September 2013 at PAX Prime 2013 in Seattle, Washington in North America.[17][18] In Europe, the Fnatic finished first, Lemondogs second, and Gambit Gaming third. In North America, the top three finishers were Cloud9, Team SoloMid, and Team Vulcun. The top three teams from each continent advanced to the Season 3 World Championships.

Riot Games changed naming conventions in 2014, calling the season the "2014 Season" instead of "Season 4". The League of Legends Challenger Series was created as a second tier of competition for promotion and relegation.[19]

At the end of the 2014 season, an expansion tournament was held in both Europe and North America that added two teams in region, giving the LCS a total of 10 teams per region for the start of the 2015 Season.[20] Additionally, Riot introduced the concept of "Championship points", which teams would earn based on performance across both splits and playoffs in order to qualify for the World Championship.[21]

A new sale of sponsorship rule was instated for the 2015 season. As a result, several teams were forced to rebrand and leave their respective parent organizations. Europe's Alliance and North America's Evil Geniuses are both owned by GoodGame Inc. CEO Alex Garfield, and thus their League of Legends teams left and became Elements and Winterfox, respectively. Curse Inc. could no longer sponsor LCS team Team Curse, thus the entire esports organization merged into Team Liquid.[22]

The 2015 Summer European LCS Finals were played at Hovet Arena, Stockholm. The series ended with Fnatic winning 3-2 over Origen and peaked at close to 1 million concurrent viewers on twitch.tv, Youtube, and Azubu - the highest number of viewers for any LCS match to date. North American LCS finals were played at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where Counter-Logic Gaming defeated Team Solomid in 3 games to secure their first regional championship. Though NA LCS summer finals were typically held previously at PAX West in Seattle, this would be the start of the split finals being held in various locations around North America.

The 2016 Spring European LCS finals were held at Rotterdam Ahoy in Rotterdam, with G2 winning 3-1 against Origen, making it their first LCS title. The 2016 Spring European LCS split was the first time G2 played in the professional LCS after having been promoted due to winning the European Challenger Series and European Promotion Tournament in Summer 2016. The North American LCS finals were held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, featuring a rematch from the last split's finals, with CLG repeating as LCS champions over TSM in five games.

The 2016 Summer European LCS finals were played at the Tauron Arena in Kraków, Poland. G2 won 3-1 against Splyce and secured their second LCS title. Splyce would later win the 2016 Summer European Gauntlet and qualify for Worlds as the third-seeded European team. The NA LCS finals were played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which was the first time an official NA LCS match was played outside of the US. TSM would defeat Cloud 9 to secure their record fourth title.

The 2017 Spring European LCS finals were held at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany, where G2 won 3-1 against Unicorns of Love, securing their third LCS title and qualifying for the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), an annually-held international League of Legends competition. G2 placed second at the MSI 2017, losing 1-3 to SKT T1, the Korean representatives, in the finals. The North American Finals were held at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; The second consecutive time that the final match was held in Canada. TSM would once again hold onto its title by defeating Cloud 9 for the second finals in a row.

Media coverage[edit]

The LCS primarily reaches its viewers through online streaming using its own channels on Twitch and YouTube. On Twitch alone, viewership numbers regularly exceed 200,000 for regular season play,[4] and the games have drawn over 1.7 million unique visitors.[7] However, Riot Games CEO Brandon Beck stated in 2012 that there were no immediate plans to try to bring the LCS to traditional TV, and news coverage of the regular season is generally limited to dedicated electronic sports news sites, such as CBS Interactive's onGamers.[23]

The scale and popularity of the LCS itself, however, has attracted considerable media attention,[24] particularly around some events that legitimised the LCS as a serious competition.

Europe[edit]

2017 Season[edit]

Format[edit]

As of 2016, 10 teams from Europe compete in the European LCS. The ten teams are divided into two groups using a snake draft format.[25] Each season is divided into two splits, with opportunities for promotion and relegation preceding each split. Regular play in each split in Europe consists of 10 weeks of play consisting of 6-8 best of 2 matches per week. Each team plays each other team in the their own group twice and each team in the opposing group once. Teams are ranked within each group by win percentage, with ties allowed in regular season. For the purpose of seeding playoff positions, a tiebreaker is played to split a tie.[26]

At the conclusion of each split, a playoff is played to determine the final standings. The top 3 teams from each group determined via regular season standings are eligible for the playoffs, with the top 1 team from each group receiving a bye into the semi-finals. Teams placing 2-3 in their group play each other in quarter-finals to determine matchups for the #1 seeded teams in the semi-finals. Each split's playoffs award cash prizes and Championship Points, which are used to determine qualification into the annual League of Legends World Championship. Both the winner of the summer split and the team with the highest number of Championship Points automatically qualify. The next five teams ranked by Championship Point total then play the Regional Qualifier Tournament to determine the final qualifying team.[27]

The top 4 teams of each group in the regular season automatically qualify for the next split. The bottom team of each group of the regular season must compete in a promotion tournament with the top two teams of the Challenger Series to determine the remaining two teams for the following split.[28][29]

Overview[edit]
  • Two groups of five teams each:
    • The top two teams are placed in separate groups according to the 2017 Spring EU LCS Championship Points.[30]
    • The remaining 8 teams are distributed to the groups via snake draft.[30]
  • Each team plays 13 matches:
    • A Double Round Robin within their own group.[30]
    • A Single Round Robin against the other group.[30]
    • Each match is a best of 2.[30]
  • The top 3 from each group qualifies to the playoffs.[30]
  • The two group winners receive playoff byes into the semifinals.[30]
  • The two fifth-place teams play in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Promotion tournament.[30]
  • Official 2017 Season EU LCS Rulebook

Championship Points Ranking[edit]

World Championship Seed Team Spring Split Summer Split Total
1 Spain G2 Esports 90 AQ AQ
2 United Kingdom Misfits Gaming 30 90 120
3 United Kingdom Fnatic 50 70 120
Not qualified Germany Unicorns Of Love 70 20 90
Not qualified United Kingdom H2k-Gaming 10 40 50
Not qualified United Kingdom Splyce 10 20 30
Not qualified Germany Team ROCCAT 0 0 0
Not qualified France Team Vitality 0 0 0
Not qualified Germany Mysterious Monkeys - 0 0
Not qualified Sweden Ninjas in Pyjamas - 0 0
Not qualified Spain Giants Gaming 0 - 0
Not qualified Spain Origen 0 - 0

All qualified teams collectively represent Europe at the World Championship. The country flags indicate the location of their headquarters.

Most valuable players[edit]

Spring Split[edit]
Rank Player Team
1 Hungary Kiss "Vizicsacsi" Tamás Germany Unicorns of Love
2 Denmark Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen Spain G2 Esports
3 Poland Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski United Kingdom H2k-Gaming
Summer Split[edit]
Rank Player Team
1 Sweden Martin “Rekkles” Larsson United Kingdom Fnatic
2 France Paul “sOAZ” Boyer United Kingdom Fnatic
3 Denmark Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen United Kingdom Fnatic

2018 Season[edit]

Format[edit]

  • 10 teams
  • Double Round Robin
  • Best of ones during the regular season, best of fives during play-offs
  • The winner of the Summer Split play-offs qualifies for the World Championship as the #1 seed.
  • The team with the most Championship Points (excluding the winner of the Summer Split) qualifies for the World Championship as the #2 seed.
  • The 4 teams with the most Championship Points (excluding any teams that are already qualified) qualify for the 2018 European Regional Finals.
    • The winner of the 2018 European Regional Finals qualifies for the World Championship as the #3 seed.

Franchising EU[edit]

Starting in 2019, the EU LCS will begin to franchise. There are various reasons for this. First, it changed the overall structure of the league, encouraging long-term investments from owners. This will allow the league to implement revenue sharing, leading to a better foundation for both the teams and professional players. Lastly, the professional players will be given a larger voice and the league has plans to continue developing new talent.

The buy-in price for the league is €8 million, who had previously participated in the League in 2018. New teams would be subject to an additional €3.5 million (a total €10.5 million), which will be distributed to the teams that were replaced in the league. The structure of Franchising in EU was based on the one implemented in North America in 2018. The application process, was structured into three phases. Phase one: Applications are open until July 1st and will focus on team strategy, team branding, and the ownership/business plan. Those applications will then be narrowed down to strong applicants, nicknamed "phase two", which will interview and review their applications. Finally, phase three, the teams will be signed and announced before the start of free agency in November.[31][32]

Current Regular Season Standings as of the end of (Week 9, day 2)[edit]

Headquarters Team First appearance in LCS # of splits in LCS Pos W - L (G) Balance Qualification (not final)
Europe United Kingdom Fnatic Spring 2013 11 1. 14 - 4 +8 Advance to Semifinal
Europe Spain G2 Esports Spring 2016 5 2. 12 - 7 +5
Europe United Kingdom Splyce[a] Spring 2016 4 3. 11 - 8 +4 Advance to Quarterfinal
Europe France Team Vitality[b] Spring 2016 5 4. 10 - 8 +2
Europe United Kingdom H2k-Gaming Spring 2015 7 5. 8 - 10 -2
Europe Germany Team ROCCAT Spring 2014 9 6. 8 - 10 -2
Europe United Kingdom Misfits Spring 2017 3 7. 8 - 10 -2 No qualification to play-offs
Europe Germany FC Schalke 04 Summer 2016 2 8. 7 - 11 -4
Europe Spain Giants Gaming Spring 2013 7 9. 7 -11 -4
Europe Germany Unicorns of Love Spring 2015 7 10. 6 - 12 -6

Splyce and G2 Esports both had to play a tiebreaker match to decide who would get the second semi final seed, which G2 Won to secure second place.

  1. ^ Spot acquired from Team Dignitas EU, due to the organisation having two LCS teams[33]
  2. ^ Spot acquired from Gambit Gaming[34]

2018 Spring Split Playoff Bracket[edit]

  Quarterfinals     Semifinals     Finals
                           
      2 G2 Esports 3  
  6 Team Roccat 0     3 Splyce 1    
  3 Splyce 3         2 G2 Esports 0
      1 Fnatic 3
      1 Fnatic 3    
  5 H2K 2     4 Team Vitality 1   Third place
  4 Team Vitality 3   3 Splyce 3
  4 Team Vitality 2
Team notes

Past season rankings[edit]

Split 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
2013 Spring United Kingdom Fnatic Russia Gambit Gaming Germany Evil Geniuses Germany SK Gaming
2013 Summer United Kingdom Fnatic Sweden Lemondogs Russia Gambit Gaming Germany Evil Geniuses
2014 Spring United Kingdom Fnatic Germany SK Gaming Germany Team ROCCAT Sweden Alliance
2014 Summer Sweden Alliance United Kingdom Fnatic Germany SK Gaming Germany Team ROCCAT
2015 Spring United Kingdom Fnatic Germany Unicorns of Love United Kingdom H2k-Gaming Germany SK Gaming
2015 Summer United Kingdom Fnatic Spain Origen United Kingdom H2k-Gaming Germany Unicorns of Love
2016 Spring Spain G2 Esports Spain Origen United Kingdom Fnatic United Kingdom H2k-Gaming
2016 Summer Spain G2 Esports United Kingdom Splyce United Kingdom H2k-Gaming Germany Unicorns of Love
2017 Spring Spain G2 Esports Germany Unicorns of Love United Kingdom Fnatic United Kingdom Misfits
2017 Summer Spain G2 Esports United Kingdom Misfits United Kingdom Fnatic United Kingdom H2k-Gaming
2018 Spring United Kingdom Fnatic Spain G2 Esports United Kingdom Splyce France Team Vitality
2018 Summer United Kingdom Fnatic Germany Schalke 04 France Team Vitality United Kingdom Misfits

Commentators and analysts[edit]

Current[edit]

  • Laure "Bulii" Valée (interviewer)[35][36]
  • Martin "Deficio" Lynge (colour commentator and analyst)[37][36]
  • Daniel “Drakos” Drakos (play-by-play commentator and interviewer)[38][36]
  • Christopher “Ender” Frierson (colour commentator and analyst)[39]
  • Dan “Foxdrop” Wyatt (colour commentator and analyst)[39]
  • Josh “Jarge” Smith (analyst)[39]
  • Aaron "Medic" Chamberlain (play-by-play commentator)[40][36]
  • Devin "PiraTechnics" Younge (play-by-play commentator)[41][36]
  • Trevor "Quickshot" Henry (play-by-play commentator)[42][36]
  • Eefje "Sjokz" Depoortere (host and interviewer)[43][36]
  • Andy "Vedius" Day (colour commentator and analyst)[44][36]

Past[edit]

  • Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider (analyst)[45][36]
  • Leigh "Deman" Smith (play-by-play commentator and interviewer)[46]
  • Henning "Henning" Eklund (colour commentator and analyst)[47]
  • Jason Kaplan (colour commentator and analyst)[48]
  • Mitch "Krepo" Voorspoels (colour commentator and analyst) - now head coach of FC Schalke 04's League of Legends team[49]
  • Joe "Please Don't Call Me Joe 'Joe Miller' Miller" Miller (colour commentator and analyst)[46]
  • Richard “Pulse” Kam[50]
  • James "Stress" O'Leary (colour commentator and analyst)[51]

North America[edit]

Format[edit]

As of 2016, 10 teams from North America compete in the North American LCS. Each season is divided into two splits, with opportunities for promotion and relegation preceding each split. Regular play in each split in North America consists of 9 weeks of play consisting of 10 games per week. Teams are ranked by win percentage, with ties allowed in regular season. For the purpose of seeding playoff positions, a tiebreaker is played to split a tie.[52]

At the conclusion of each split, a playoff is played to determine the final standings. The top 3 teams from each group are determined via regular season standings are eligible for the playoffs, with the top 2 teams receiving a bye into the semi-finals. Teams placing 3–6 play each other in quarter-finals to determine who among them play the teams ranked 1 and 2 in the semi-finals. Each split's playoffs award cash prizes and Championship Points, which are used to determine qualification into the annual League of Legends World Championship. The winner of the summer split and the next team with the highest number of Championship Points automatically qualify. The next five teams ranked by Championship Point total then play the Regional Qualifier tournament to determine the final qualifying team.[53]

The top seven teams of the regular season automatically qualify for the next split. The bottom three teams of the regular season must compete in a promotion tournament with the top two teams of the Challenger Series to determine the remaining three teams for the following split.[54]

Franchising NA[edit]

Starting in 2018, the North American LCS will begin to franchise. There are various reasons for this. First, it changed the overall structure of the league, encouraging long-term investments from owners. This allowed the league to implement revenue sharing, leading to a better foundation for both the teams and professional players. Lastly, the professional players were given a larger voice and more protection within the league.

The buy-in price for the league was $10 million for existing League of Legends teams, who had previously participated in the League Championship Series or Challenger Series. New teams would be subject to an additional $3 million (a total $13 million), which was distributed to the teams that were replaced in the league. Interested parties were given applications in June, due on July 28, 2017. Over 100 existing esports organizations, traditional sports teams, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs reportedly applied.[55] Those applications were then narrowed down to a shortlist, nicknamed "phase two", which saw participants travel to Riot Games' Los Angeles office to interview and review their applications.[56] Riot Games and the North American League Championship Series players' association also decided that league would not expand and instead remain at 10 teams.

Buyers for the league were decided in mid-October. Several existing teams from the league — including Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, Echo Fox, FlyQuest, Team Liquid and Team SoloMid — were reportedly accepted back into the league.[57][58][59] Other existing teams, such as Immortals, Phoenix1, Team Dignitas and Team EnvyUs, were declined from entry into the restructured league.[60][61] The team welcomed four new teams — one endemic esports team and three NBA franchises or affiliates. Longtime esports organization OpTic Gaming was reportedly awarded a spot in the league after receiving investment from Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman.[62] The other three new spots went to Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob and his son Kirk as the Golden Guardians, the Cleveland Cavaliers and affiliated venture capital firms as 100 Thieves, and the Houston Rockets as Clutch Gaming.[63][64][65][66]

Past seasons[edit]

Split 1st, gold medalist(s) 2nd, silver medalist(s) 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 4th
2013 Spring United States Team SoloMid United States Team Coast United States Team Vulcun United States Team Curse
2013 Summer United States Cloud9 United States Team SoloMid United States Team Vulcun United States Team Dignitas
2014 Spring United States Cloud9 United States Team SoloMid United States Counter Logic Gaming United States Team Curse
2014 Summer United States Team SoloMid United States Cloud9 United States LMQ United States Team Curse
2015 Spring United States Team SoloMid United States Cloud9 United States Team Liquid United States Team Impulse
2015 Summer United States Counter Logic Gaming United States Team SoloMid United States Team Liquid United States Team Impulse
2016 Spring United States Counter Logic Gaming United States Team SoloMid United States Immortals United States Team Liquid
2016 Summer United States Team SoloMid United States Cloud9 United States Immortals United States Counter Logic Gaming
2017 Spring United States Team SoloMid United States Cloud9 United States Phoenix1 United States FlyQuest
2017 Summer United States Team SoloMid United States Immortals United States Counter Logic Gaming United States Team Dignitas
2018 Spring United States Team Liquid United States 100 Thieves United States Echo Fox United States Clutch Gaming
2018 Summer United States Team Liquid United States Cloud9 United States Team SoloMid United States 100 Thieves

Team placement table[edit]

  *   Denotes defunct team or team no longer participating in NA LCS.

Finishes
Team 1st, gold medalist(s) 2nd, silver medalist(s) 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 4th Total Top
Four Finishes
United States Team SoloMid 6 4 1 0 11
United States Cloud9 2 5 0 0 7
United States Counter Logic Gaming 2 0 2 1 5
United States Team Liquid 2 0 2 1 5
United States Immortals 0 1 2 0 3
United States Team Curse 0 0 0 3 3
United States Team Dignitas 0 0 0 2 2
United States 100 Thieves 0 1 0 1 2
United States Team Vulcun 0 0 2 0 2
United States Team Impulse 0 0 2 0 2
United States Team Coast 0 1 0 0 1
United States Echo Fox 0 0 1 0 1
United States Phoenix1 0 0 1 0 1
United States LMQ 0 0 1 0 1
United States FlyQuest 0 0 0 1 1
United States Clutch Gaming 0 0 0 1 1
United States Gravity 0 0 0 1 1

Commentators and analysts[edit]

  • Aidan "Zirene" Moon
  • Sam "Kobe" Hartman-Kinzler
  • Mark "TheeMarkz" Zimmerman
  • Julian "Pastrytime" Carr
  • James "Dash" Patterson
  • Rivington "Riv" Bisland III
  • Josh "Jatt" Leesman
  • Isaac "Azael" Cummings-Bentley
  • David "Phreak" Turley
  • Clayton "CaptainFlowers" Raines
  • Ovilee May (interviewer)

References[edit]

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