One of the strongest talking points of the North American League of Legends Championship Series has been the new format.
After years of playing one game for each matchup, this split Riot Games decided North American teams would play best-of-three series for each match (and their European counterparts would play best-of-twos). Instead of all being confined to Saturday and Sunday, the North American LCS expanded to Friday nights to accommodate the extra matches.
Among the debate this split has been a perceived drop in viewership (and whether or not it means much) and a possible over saturation of matches. But the clear development through seven weeks from the players is overwhelming: The change is better for them.
There are still points to be worked out (especially in Europe, which has experimented a bit with the schedule), but the extra experience players have gained by playing more matches has proven to be vital. The late Friday games in North America have caused some adjustments, but the sentiment from players has been overwhelmingly positive to this point.
Slingshot asked 12 North American LCS pros how they feel about the new schedule and how they approach Friday night games after being used to playing exclusively on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Their responses are below:
Adrian “Adrian” Ma, Immortals: It feels really weird because last split we’re used to playing one game each day on the weekends. It just takes a lot of time to get used to. It just feels really weird right now.
Apollo “Apollo” Price, Apex: It feels nice to play this many games. It wears you down a little bit at the end of the day, but it’s still good. You get a little bit of nerves on stage, but that’s kind of normal. But I don’t feel like my play is affected by that anymore.
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Team Liquid: I think the over three days is kind of weird, but the best-of-threes was a change that was kind of necessary. Because CLG was the better team today (a 2-1 loss in Week 2), obviously, but if it was old format, we would have just smashed them in 20 minutes and gone on to the next day like we were so much superior to them when in reality we weren’t. So I think that change was for the better. The only thing we do is now we have a sleeping schedule. We have to go to bed a bit earlier in case we play at night. If we were to play on Friday, Thursday we’d have a stricter time schedule. That’s pretty much it, we just have a different time schedule.
Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun, Team Liquid: It’s really fun. Now that we have best-of-three, the best team wins. You can’t be lucky. I think it’s really good for us because we are confident.
Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent, Team Envy: I like best-of-three a lot better than best-of-one. Best-of-one, people make cheese purposely and then when it comes to best-of-three, they’ll lose. If it’s best-of-three, you can’t cheese every game. I actually like the Friday schedule because I’m usually more awake at night.
Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev, Echo Fox: I think that the best-of-three impacted us negatively. We are better in best-of-ones. After the first game, it feels like we lose focus compared to how much we are into it for the first game. I think that the best-of-three format is overall better. For our team, though, we just tend to lose focus and the second game just feels worse.
Alan “KiWiKiD” Nguyen, NRG: The three day thing doesn’t really matter. I think the biggest thing is best-of-three. It’s really time consuming sometimes, and it’s a lot more unfavorable toward struggling/developing teams because one game doesn’t matter at all anymore. It does, in like really futuristic circumstances, but it’s almost negligible in my opinion. Losing 1-2 is basically the same as losing 0-2.
Eugene “Pobelter” Park, Immortals: I think best-of-three are a lot more fulfilling because we’ve had a lot of series where we’ve lost the first game this split. If this was last split, it would leave us really unsatisfied and regretful thinking, “Wow, we really could have beaten that team if we tried something different.” Now we have that opportunity at a second chance, so I think that’s really good. If you lose 2-0 then you kind of know the other team was just better than us today.
Diego “Quas” Ruiz, NRG: I really like the format changes, as most players do. I think it just really determines who the better team is in the end. You won’t rely on one pick to win the match. You have to go through several strategies, and I really like that.
Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin, Immortals: I think that it’s way more exciting. It’s a lot harder for us pro gamers because if you have a Friday match and a Sunday match, you have to practice on Saturday. Two best-of-threes in one week is actually a lot of games. Even LCK is doing best-of-three, but they do it over like four months where we are doing it in like two and a half. I think that best-of-three would be best for improving NA. By having best-of-three, every team gets more games, so I think it’s going to be much better for NA.
Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, Counter Logic Gaming: I like the new format, I like the best-of-threes a lot. My only complaint with it is on Fridays, the second team playing on Fridays, they start at 8 p.m. and sometimes that can not start til like 9 or something. They can end up playing til 11 or 12ish. So I’m not really a fan of that, but maybe well get used to it. Friday’s kind of different. I’m not really used to it. We actually stay up later Thursday night if we have to play on Friday. We stayed up til like 2 a.m. when we normally sleep at 12 or 1. Then we wake up at 10 instead of waking up at 8. On a normal day, we wake up at 8:30 a.m., we’re getting pretty tired around the second scrim block, which starts at 4 or 5 p.m. So when you’re playing on Friday, you have to kind of move your schedule later so you’re not tired for your games. Especially if you’re the second game.
Alex “Xpecial” Chu, Apex (after a Friday night game): I don’t really get why we’re playing so late. It’s 11 something right now, and we never play this late. Usually, you get to sleep at like 11, and tomorrow our shuttle leaves at 11 a.m. It’s a little weird but I guess this is what they have to do to set up best-of-threes, which I guess is worth it.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.