Should The League European Championship And League Championship Series Change Format?

Should The League European Championship And League Championship Series Change Format?
Credit: Riot Games via YouTube

Korea’s LCK and China’s LPL have dominated the League of Legends esports scene internationally for the past several years. The LCK has five World Championships under its belt, while the LPL recently acquired its second World Championship title. These two regions have also dominated the annual Mid Season Invitational, winning four out of five recent titles.

With players and coaching staff frequently migrating from the LPL and LCK to EU and NA, what makes the LCK and LPL so powerful that other regions often fail to replicate?

LEC and LCS teams play less games in a split due to the regions’ best-of-one formats and are thus less prepared for international events than their Eastern counterparts in the LCK and LPL.

2017—the year of crucial decisions

Around October 2017, Riot announced its plans to revert both the EU and NA LCS from a best-of-three format to best-of-one for the 2018 Spring Split.

The decision was made to increase engagement and enjoyment for viewers, according to Riot. Based on their data, viewers enjoyed shorter games, and engagement didn’t increase by much if a series had already started since the viewer would have already missed key points of the game.

But while this decision would increase engagement in the next couple of years, it would be at the detriment of the experience of both regions.

Possible issues with the best-of-three format

The best-of-three format would impact the amount of time needed for broadcasts. Some broadcasts could be extended to a three-day weekend or feature all the games crunched in feasible hours. Viewership would also likely suffer dramatically if two less popular teams played. While the matches of top teams will inherently bring more viewership, those teams that did not invest into branding may go unnoticed and drive away viewers from the stream, as shown by LPL and LCK bottom-tier teams having less viewership on average.

The LCK and LPL have also shifted games across the entire week, while the LCS and LEC have historically tried to keep all games into the weekend. LCS introduced Monday Night League similar to traditional sports, but it was widely unsuccessful. If the recently announced Friday Night League proves to be successful, then Riot could look into adjusting their schedule around a three day weekend.

A compromise: Best-of-two

EU LCS had a best-of-two format for some time, but it was not widely accepted due to various reasons. One important reason was that people didn’t enjoy seeing a definitive winner in the series—everyone wants to see someone win in the end and having multiple tied matches removed this closure for fans. This issue was further contrasted with the NA LCS’ best-of-three format at the time.

While the viewership might get tanked a bit due to the same reason as best-of-three, the impact would be significantly less considering that people tuning in might be more interested in seeing one game into the series instead of two.