Riot Games announced Wednesday changes for the 2017 North American and European League Championship Series based on community feedback and some visions that the company has for the future. The changes included a new arbitration system and a different organizational format in Europe, and here are the highlights of what to expect when the seasons begin next month.
The most notable change was Riot’s changes to the arbitration process between teams, players, and the company. Both NA and EU will be using a third party for arbitration and will be eligible with two possible judgements: fines starting from $10,000 or €10,000, and suspensions for one or more games. The fact that Riot is looking into an independent party (arbitration company JAMS in the case for the NA LCS) is a step forward, but they maintain that “traditional” arbitration will take place in more complicated disputes. This makes one wonder if Riot will be taking care of more complicated disputes, and if so, how they will be able to dispel the community concerns regarding some of Riot’s past judgements in arbitration many have been labeled as inconsistent and unfair.
EU will be adapting a best-of-three format for the regular season like NA and Korea, ditching the best-of-two format that was received with mixed reviews. The 10 EU teams will also be divided into two groups, with a draft scheduled for next month. The group drafts will allow EU LCS teams to avoid unfavorable match ups by sending other teams to the opposing group, while also randomizing groups since each team will try to reflect their own preferences. This also incentivizes teams to perform well, as the team with the highest championship points will get first picks in each group for the following split.
Both regions will continue relegation, but only the bottom two teams in the standings will be sent to the promotional tournament, instead of three. The top two teams of the Challenger Series will still be able to qualify to the regular season against the bottom two of the regular season of the previous split, but the format of the promotional tournament has changed to a double elimination best-of-five, meaning teams that win twice go to the regular split, while teams that lose twice to be go to the Challenger Series.
Riot will also continue to let NA and EU LCS sister teams to be able to operate in the Challenger Series, but will forbid them from participating in the promotional tournament (effective immediately for NA and in the summer split for EU). This means that sister teams will be able to compete for prize money, but unable to sell their regular season spot. The development will effectively put an end to the “farming” of LCS slots that has become common in the last yeas and could turn the Challenger Series into a good training ground for both aspiring pros and teams that wish to test out new players.
Cover photo by Vince Nairn