Riot Games has revealed its intention to expand its League of Legends European Championship (LEC). The expansion will see the league cover the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, along with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Turkey.
The game developer and organizer made this known in their press release on their official LOL EMEA website.
“After ten incredible years of League of Legends Esports in Europe, we’re honoured to announce our plans for the future of the region heading into 2023,” the press release read.
“Whether you’ve been with us for ten years or one, we’re determined to bring you a bigger, better, bolder vision of LoL Esports in the region, and continue innovating to keep the LEC and wider ecosystem at the forefront of a new generation of competitive play.”
“Today, we’re proud to announce we’re expanding our region, with Türki̇ye, CIS and MENA merging with Europe to become one competitive and united region. Welcome to #EMEA23.”
“We want EMEA to be a region that brings fans together across multiple continents, competing for regional pride and international success. With this change, we’re creating pathways for players to reach the pinnacle of League of Legends esports in the region and opportunities to unite fans across EMEA to cheer for the teams they love.”
Owing to the expansion, the league will undergo a change of name and will now be known as the League of Legends EMEA Championship, retaining the abbreviation LEC. The change will take effect in the 2023 season and will feature an extra split added to the usual two-split system.
The three splits format to be featured in the LEC going forward will be the “Winter Split,“ “Spring Split,” and the “Summer Split.” Each of the splits will feature 10 teams competing against themselves in a best-of-one format. Eight of the ten teams will advance to the best-of-three double elimination group stage, and thereafter, the best four teams will qualify for the best-of-five playoffs.
Each winner of the splits will receive a direct qualification to the LEC Season Finals. The end-of-season event will see the best six teams from the EMEA region across the season compete for the championship title.
The winner of the Spring Split will also represent the region in the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). The Finals of the LEC Season will offer direct qualification to the League of Legends World Championship.
The previous LEC franchise selection of ten partnered teams, which includes Team Heretics due to their purchase of the slot previously owned by the Misfits, and KOI, which saw the emergence of Rogue, remains the same. As previously done, the circuits will consist of the rebranded Amazon EMEA Masters, which was previously known as the Amazon EU Masters, alongside 13 EMEA Regional Leagues (ERL) looking to qualify for it.
The additional ERLs will include the Turkish Championship League (TCL) and the Arabian League (AL), formerly known as the Intel Arabian Cup. Due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the League of Legends Continental League (LCL) continues to remain suspended but could be added to the LEC sometime in the future. However, players from the region are allowed the same recidency status as their peers in the EMEA region.League
On Riot Games’ official LOL EMEA website, the organizer stated that the format is a “pilot program as LoL Esports considers broader changes to the competitive calendar and season structure in 2024.” It also reassured the public that, peradventure, if the format succeeds in its pilot phase among fans, teams, and players, it will expand its structure to accommodate more regions in the next variations.
The game developer and organizer stated that their plans on how the competitive structure would work would be revealed as the new season approaches. It also assures that change will offer an opportunity to unite fans across the EMEA region.
“We want EMEA to be a region that brings fans together across multiple continents, competing for regional pride and international success,” the official website reads.
“With this change, we’re creating pathways for players to reach the pinnacle of League of Legends esports in the region and opportunities to unite fans across EMEA to cheer for the teams they love.”