The League of Legends Championship Series is a League of Legends esports league officially run by Riot Games and split into two separate regions, the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS) and the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS), each with their own different structures and rules. Both competitions represent the highest level of LoL play in their respective continents, and the three teams who win the splits and walk away with the most championship points qualify for the annual League of Legends World Championship, held late in the year. For esports betting tips, team profiles and schedules on the latest LCS tournaments, look no further than this page.
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About the League of Legends LCS
The League of Legends Championship Series was officially established by Riot Games in early 2013 to consolidate the esports scene surrounding its game and effectively replace the third-party profesionally organized tournaments running high-level LoL competitions previously, like the Intel Extreme Masters and Major League Gaming. Still, two seasons of LoL Championships ran under these banners, and Riot Games provided a world championship tournament at the end of each. When the third season rolled around, Riot Games’ re-structuring allowed them to run these competitions with a more regular schedule and guarantee salaries for professional LoL players in Europe and North America.
The LCS in both countries is divided into seasonal splits, called Spring Split and Summer Split. Ten teams in each continent enter each annual season of play, battling for top standings in each split and for the play-off tournaments, which only the top six teams from each region will qualify. Every participating team will also earn championship points to qualify for the LoL World Championships at the end of the year, depending on their performance.
90% of the games in the LCS are streamed and played live at Riot Games Studios in Germany and the United States, with Twitch and YouTube esports live streams of the event pulling in hundreds of thousands of viewers from all over the world every year.
At the end of the LCS season in both regions, there are three teams who will qualify for the LoL World Championships: The winner of the summer split, the winner of the regional gauntlet match and the team with the most championship points racked up when competitive play officially ceases.
The EU LCS and NA LCS are two distinct regional League of Legends esports leagues with differing formats that fans will need to familiarise themselves with to differentiate them properly.
League of Legends Championship Series North America
The North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) has undergone a major revamp for the 2018 season and is now structured under a franchise system, similar to US sporting leagues and other recent e-Leagues like Blizzard’s Overwatch League. The move was to allow revenue sharing, and give professional players additional flexibility and a voice within how the league functions, with team buy-in prices going for $10 million for existing teams and $3 million to new teams. Notable outfits which carried over to the new LCS NA league’s format include Cloud9 and Team Liquid, while unfortunately some big teams like the Immortals were declined.
Essentially, any teams playing in the NA LCS from 2018 onward do not have to face regulation or promotional tournaments.
Those that have applied and have been selected are now permanent partners of the league and will play year-to-year, which include:
- 100 Thieves (100)
- Cloud9 (C9)
- Clutch Gaming (CG)
- Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)
- Echo Fox (FOX)
- FlyQuest (FLY)
- Golden Guardians (GGS)
- Optic Gaming (OPT)
- Team Liquid (TL) TSM (TSM)
The ten teams that play in the regular season of the American LCS are divided in half into the Spring and Summer Split. Each split has ten games played a week, spread across nine weeks from January 20 to March 18, which will avoid clashing with the schedule of the European LCS.
A major difference between LCS NA’s past seasons is they have re-introduced Bo1 (Best of 1) matches, so games are now only played over one round rather than best Bo3 (Best of 3) as it was before. Teams are ranked by win percentage and tiebreakers employed similarly to the EU LCS or play-off seeding purposes.
Going from the Spring Split to the Summer Split, only the top seven teams of the ten automatically qualify for the next split. Like the EU LCS league, the bottom three teams of the season have to compete with two teams from the League of Legends North American Academy League (re-branded this year from the previous Challenger Series) to determine who moves forward.
Playoffs at the end of each split in the LCS NA determine the final standings, with only the best three teams with the top regular season standings qualifying: the winning team of the summer split, the team with the largest amount of Championship Points and the team that wins the regional qualifier gauntlet tournament (teams ranked #3 – #7).
The top two performing teams here will get a bye into the semi-finals, while the teams who placed 3 – 6 duke it out in the quarter finals (March 24 to 25); whoever wins out of this second group faces the top two ranked teams in the semi-finals (March 31 to April 1) before heading into the finals (April 7 to 8).
As with the EU LCS, getting into the play-offs and winning grants more significant cash prizes and Championship Points for the LoLWC. Most importantly, the play-offs are still played Bo5 (Best of 5) unlike the regular season.
The presently announced prize-pools (in US Dollars) for the 2018 LCS NA are as follows:
- First Place: $100,000
- Second Place: $50,000
- Third Place: $30,000
- Fourth Place: $20,000
League of Legends Championship Series Europe
The European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS) is structured under a promotion and relegation system, mirroring European football sporting leagues. The ten teams competing in each year’s EU LCS are separated into two groups, using a snake draft format. Both the Spring and Summer Split are played across ten weeks, with anywhere from 6 – 8 best out of 1 matches played, and all teams will play their fellows in the same group twice and those in the other group once throughout the regular season.
The EU LCS commences on January 19. The teams set to participate include:
- G2 Esports
- FC Schalke 04
- Giants Gaming
- Unicorns of Love
All of the teams in the EU LCS are ranked by group and by win percentage, and tiebreakers are played to split a tie once seeding for when the play-offs commence. At the end of each split, the the 3 best teams from each group (based on their regular season standings) face off in the play-offs after week 9 of the regular season on March 23 to get a bye into the semi finals, and whichever teams place 2nd and 3rd here will play each other later in the quarter-finals on the same day to determine the match-ups for the top seeded teams in the semi-finals (March 25).
The winners of the playoffs on March 26 will be awarded with larger amounts of prizes and Championship Points to put towards qualifying for the end-of-year League of Legends World Championship. As stated above, whoever wins the summer split, has the most championship points, and wins the regional qualifier tournament gauntlet will automatically qualify for the LoLWC.
Where it gets a bit complicated is the transition from Spring Split to Summer Split. Only the best four teams of each group in the main season automatically qualify for the Summer Split later in the year, while the bottom team of each group has to duke it out with the top two teams from the League of Legends European Challenger Series to take one of the remaining two spots in the Summer Split.
Can I bet on the League of Legends Championship Series?
Esports fans who like to bet on their favourite teams can find betting markets for both LCS competitions and the matches played across their seasonal splits at the world’s best esports betting sites.