League of Legends Championship Series
The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) is the top level of professional League of Legends in the United States and Canada. The esports league is run by Riot Games and has ten franchise teams. Each annual season of competition is divided into two splits, spring and summer, which conclude with a double-elimination tournament between the top six teams. At the end of the season, the winner, runners-up and third-place team of the summer playoffs qualify for the annual League of Legends World Championship.
|Current season, competition or edition:|
2020 LCS season
|Sport||League of Legends|
|Founded||2013 (NA LCS)|
2019 (rebranded to LCS)
|No. of teams||2013–2014: 8|
|Team Liquid (4th title)|
|Most titles||Team SoloMid (6 titles)|
|Relegation to||League of Legends Challenger Series (2013–2018)|
|International cup(s)||Mid Season Invitational|
|LEC, LCK, LPL|
With the exception of some touring events, all games of the LCS are played live at Riot Games' studios in Los Angeles, California. In addition to a small studio audience, all games are streamed live in several languages on Twitch and YouTube, with broadcasts regularly attracting over 300,000 viewers.
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. 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." The US government is also granting athlete visas for LCS competitors. The first LCS player to be awarded a P visa was Danny "Shiphtur" Le. The LCS has attracted sponsorships from Acer Coca-Cola and American Express. "League of Legends Championship Series" is a Delaware limited liability company.
Riot Games launched League of Legends in October 2009 and rapidly attracted 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.
Riot Games announced the formation of the LCS on August 6, 2012, 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 February 7, 2013 in North America and on February 9, 2013 in Europe.
Season 3 of the LCS finished with the summer split playoffs, held on August 23 to 25 in Europe at the Gamescom in 2013, which was held in the Koelnmesse in Cologne, North Rine-Westphalia, Germany, and August 30 to September 1, 2013 at PAX Prime 2013 in Seattle, Washington in North America. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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, 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.
In late 2018, the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS) was renamed to the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) dropped "North American" from its name.
Starting in 2018, the North American LCS became franchised. 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. 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. 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. Other existing teams, such as Immortals, Phoenix1, Team Dignitas and Team EnvyUs, were declined from entry into the restructured league. 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. 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.
|Pastrytime||Julian Carr||Play-by-Play Caster|
|RivingtonThe3rd||Rivington Bisland III|
|Kobe||Sam Hartman-Kenzler||Color Caster|
|Dash||James Patterson||Analysis Host|
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, and the games have drawn over 1.7 million unique visitors. 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.
The scale and popularity of the LCS itself, however, has attracted considerable media attention, particularly around some events that legitimised the LCS as a serious competition.
In December 2016, Riot announced that it had reached a deal with BAMTech (a spin-off of MLB Advanced Media) to serve as the exclusive distributor of LCS broadcasts through 2023. BAMTech would have paid $50 million per-year under the contract, and split advertising revenue with Riot. However, internal complications arose after The Walt Disney Company acquired BAMTech, and the contract never actually took effect. As a substitute, Riot entered into an agreement to non-exclusively carry its broadcasts on ESPN+ instead, in addition to existing outlets such as Twitch.
As of 2019, 10 teams from North America compete in the LCS. Each season is divided into two splits with a 9-week regular season and a 3-week playoff bracket. In the regular season of each split, each team plays each other twice, for a total of 90 games. Teams are ranked by win percentage, with ties split by tiebreaker games if necessary at the end of the regular season.
At the conclusion of each split, a playoff with the top 6 teams of the regular season is played to determine the final standings. The top 2 teams of the regular season receive a bye into the semi-finals, and the remaining 4 teams play each other in the quarter-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 four teams ranked by Championship Point total then play the Regional Qualifier tournament to determine the final qualifying team.
- 10 teams participate:
- Using a Double Round Robin format
- Each match is a best of one.
- Top 6 teams qualify for playoffs
- Top 2 teams receive a bye to the semifinals
- All teams receive a Summer Season seed
- Official 2019 Season LCS Rulebook
|Teams||First appearance in LCS||Roster||Coach|
|Team SoloMid||Spring 2013||Broken Blade||Dardoch||Bjergsen||Kobbe||Biofrost||Peter Zhang|
|Counter Logic Gaming||Spring 2013||Ruin||Wiggily||Crown||Stixxay||Smoothie||SSONG|
|Team Liquid||Spring 2015||Impact||Broxah||Jensen||Doublelift||CoreJJ||Cain|
|100 Thieves||Spring 2018||Ssumday||Meteos||ry0ma||Cody Sun||Stunt||Zikz|
|Golden Guardians||Spring 2018||Hauntzer||Closer||Goldenglue||FBI||Keith||Inero|
|Evil Geniuses||Spring 2020||Kumo||Svenskeren||Jiizuke||Bang||Zeyzal||Irean|
|2013 Spring||Team SoloMid||Good Game University*||Team Vulcun*||Team Curse*|
|2013 Summer||Cloud9||Team SoloMid||Team Vulcun*||Team Dignitas|
|2014 Spring||Cloud9||Team SoloMid||Counter Logic Gaming||Team Curse*|
|2014 Summer||Team SoloMid||Cloud9||LMQ*||Team Curse*|
|2015 Spring||Team SoloMid||Cloud9||Team Liquid||Team Impulse*|
|2015 Summer||Counter Logic Gaming||Team SoloMid||Team Liquid||Team Impulse*|
|2016 Spring||Counter Logic Gaming||Team SoloMid||Immortals*||Team Liquid|
|2016 Summer||Team SoloMid||Cloud9||Immortals*||Counter Logic Gaming|
|2017 Spring||Team SoloMid||Cloud9||Phoenix1||FlyQuest|
|2017 Summer||Team SoloMid||Immortals*||Counter Logic Gaming||Team Dignitas|
|2018 Spring||Team Liquid||100 Thieves||Echo Fox||Clutch Gaming|
|2018 Summer||Team Liquid||Cloud9||Team SoloMid||100 Thieves|
|2019 Spring||Team Liquid||Team SoloMid||Cloud9||FlyQuest|
|2019 Summer||Team Liquid||Cloud9||Counter Logic Gaming||Clutch Gaming|
Team placement tableEdit
Denotes defunct team or team no longer participating in NA LCS.
Denotes team that has been rebranded in NA LCS.
|Counter Logic Gaming||2||0||2||1||5|
- Leslie, Callum (June 1, 2017). "Franchising is officially coming to the NA LCS next year". Dot eSports. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
- Esguerra, Tyler (January 8, 2020). "Riot changes LCS playoff format for 2020, will also remove NA regional qualifiers". Dot Esports. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
- Rutledge, Caroline (January 8, 2020). "Riot Games Announces Major LCS Format Changes Ahead of 2020 Season". TheGamer. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
- Stewart, Jack (January 8, 2020). "LCS introduces double elimination Playoffs and stronger Academy investment for 2020". GGIntel. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
- Kolev, Radoslav (January 9, 2020). "LCS restructures Worlds qualification method, finally introduces double elimination bracket". VPEsports. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
- Kwilinski, Darin. "LCS retains viewers during the Super Bowl". onGamers. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Auxent, Adrien (September 30, 2016). "Esports are now officially legal in France". The Esports Observer. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
- Auxent, Adrien (April 28, 2016). "All you need to know about France's new esports federation, "France eSports"". The Esports Observer. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
- Dave, Paresh. "Online game League of Legends star gets U.S. visa as pro athlete". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Lejacq, Yannick. "Score! Professional video gamers awarded athletic visas". NBC News. NBCUniversal. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
- Welch, Chris. "'League of Legends' gamer granted US visa recognizing him as professional athlete". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
- Acer Jose (July 10, 2016). "Acer Named Official Sponsor for 2016 League of Legends World Championships and 2016 All Star Event". Acer. Retrieved June 8, 2017.[dead link]
- Gaudiosi, John. "Why eSports are attracting sponsors like Coke". Fortune. Time Inc. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Peel, Jeremy. "American Express to sponsor LCS Season 3 and Staples Center final: "We're stepping up and saying this is no longer niche"". PCGamesN. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- "ABOUT". LoL Esports. Riot Games. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- "Attraction in League Of Legends". nytimes. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- "International Tournaments". esportspedia. Retrieved June 19, 2015.[better source needed]
- "Riot Games Shares its Vision for the Future of Esports, Reveals Initial Details of League of Legends Championship Series" (PDF). Riot Games. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- "North America Season 3 Summer Playoffs". esportspedia. Retrieved June 19, 2015.[better source needed]
- "Europe Season 3 Summer Playoffs". esportspedia. Retrieved June 19, 2015.[better source needed]
- Sarkar, Samit. "How the new League of Legends Challenger league will create a pathway to the pros". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on December 26, 2014.
- Deesing, Jonathan (November 19, 2014). "Expansion Tournament Adds Two Teams to LCS". Red Bull GmbH. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
- Deesing, Jonathan (January 14, 2015). "Riot Adds Points System to LCS, Modifies Schedule". Red Bull GmbH. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
- Lingle, Samuel (December 19, 2014). "Curse Gaming gives up its name". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
- Goslin, Austen (December 13, 2018). "The NA LCS is changing its name and returning on Jan. 26 2019". The Rift Herald. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
- "Overwatch League, North American LCS head in different directions". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- Greeley, Chris (September 22, 2017). "Mid-Flight Update on Our Selection Process for NA LCS 2018". LoL Esports.
- "Sources: Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming to rejoin NA LCS". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Immortals out, Echo Fox in for the NA LCS, sources say". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "FlyQuest accepted as NA LCS franchise". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Sources: Dignitas' League of Legends Championship Series franchising application declined". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Sources: Phoenix1 and Team Envy declined entry into newly-franchised LCS". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Sources: OpTic Gaming to join North American League Championship Series". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Sources: Warriors co-owner lands League of Legends franchise spot". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Sources: NA LCS team roster finalized with Rockets". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Cavs added as League of Legends franchise". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "NA LCS Team Announcement". Riot Games. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- Rom, Kim (November 7, 2013). "Welcome to the onGamers beta". onGamers. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- Snider, Mike. "'League of Legends' makes big league moves". USA Today. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
- "League of Legends' maker inks rich broadcast contract, with an eye on premium content". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- "'League of Legends' E-Sports Contests Lure Newest Fan: Major League Baseball". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Novy-Williams, Eben (May 25, 2019). "Record $350 Million Esports Deal Dissolved Before It Began". Bloomberg. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
- "Season Three Official Rules" (PDF). Riot Games. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Cocke, Taylor. "Everything you need to know about the lcs playoffs and regional qualifiers". League of Legends Championship Series. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- @CodySun (November 3, 2018). "Flying back to Toronto, let the off-season begin! ..." (Tweet). Retrieved January 4, 2020 – via Twitter.