The European League of Legends Championship series has announced major format changes, including the introduction of best-of-threes, a two group regular season format, a less risky promotion and relegation system, and a single broadcast.
Riot Games began their announcement by revealing that they gained a lot of feedback regarding the best-of-two and best-of-three formats and found they valued having a clear winner at the end of each series. The company also felt that having two broadcasts instead of one kept the EU LCS from feeling like a holistic product.
To expand the amount of games to Bo3 and also condense to one broadcast, the EU LCS has taken a cue from the Chinese League of Legends Pro League.
At the start of each split, teams will be divided into two groups. Teams within each group will play each other twice and play teams in the opposite group once throughout the regular season. During the ten week split, teams will participate in an intragroup round robin for the first three weeks. From Week 4 to Week 7, teams will play competitors in the opposite group. For the last three weeks, teams will play one final round robin with the teams within their own group.
In order to draft groups, the teams with the highest points from the 2016 season will be placed in separate groups as group leaders. G2 Esports and H2K-Gaming will begin the draft by choosing a team they want to play in the opposite group. Those teams will then choose teams to play in the opposite groups from themselves in a snake draft system.
For example, if G2 are in Group A, they will choose the second team to be placed in Group B after H2K, B2. H2K will then choose the second team to be placed in Group A, A2. Team B2 will then choose the third team to play in Group A, and so on.
According to Riot’s announcement, the playoffs format for Spring and Summer will remain similar to that of 2016. The first place team in Group A and the first place team in Group B will be seeded directly into semifinals. The second and third place teams of Group A and B will face each other in the quarterfinals. Winners will advance to semifinals based on a re-seeding process. If teams from two different groups advance, the quarterfinal winner from Group A will face Group B’s first-place team. If the second- and third-place teams from the same group advance, the second-place team will face the first-place team from the opposite group.
To provide more security for LCS teams, only the bottom two teams from the regular season will play the Promotion Tournament against the top two teams from Challenger Series. The format will be more simplified, with all matches being best-of-five and double elimination. The highest seeded LCS team will be able to pick which CS team they want to face in the first round. From there, winners of the first round play each other, and losers of the first round play each other. Once a team loses two best-of-fives, the team is relegated to Challenger. The winner of the upper bracket match is promoted to the LCS, and the loser of the upper bracket match will play the winner of the lower bracket match for the second spot in the LCS.
The EU LCS broadcast is returning to a single stream, which will go live on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and on flex Sundays in Weeks 2, 7, and 10 in the afternoon in Berlin. Each day, two Bo3s will broadcast. In this way, the EU LCS hopes to keep the continuity of the regular season and fulfill the demand for more weekend broadcasts.
Riot will also add new policies consistent with NA LCS changes announced earlier today, including an increase in the EU LCS prize pool to 200,000 Euro, the introduction of an arbitration process, poaching protection for Head Coaches, preventing EU LCS teams from having CS teams participating in the Promotion Tournament, and the availability of more digital goods related to esports.