Riot Games has announced major changes to the format of the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds) in 2023.
The LoL Worlds play-ins and group stages will undergo significant changes and an additional preliminary stage will be added prior to the official start of the tournament.
The biggest change will be the replacement of the traditional group stage with a new Swiss-style stage, which will feature 16 teams. Fourteen teams will qualify directly from their regional leagues and 2 more will qualify from the Worlds play-in stage.
The Swiss stage will include five rounds of play, where teams with the same record in the tournament will play against each other.
Teams that reach three wins in the Swiss stage will advance to the knockout portion of the tournament, while teams that lose three games in the Swiss stage will be eliminated.
In addition, a new preliminary match will take place between Europe and North America before the start of the play-in stage. This match, known as the “Worlds Qualification Series” (WQS), will be a best-of-five match between the fourth seeds from the LCS and LEC.
In previous years, both the EU and NA could send their four seeds to Worlds, but moving forward, they will have to compete in the WQS with only one team advancing to the play-in stage of Worlds.
“Starting this year, we will introduce the Worlds Qualifying Series. While the LCK and LPL will maintain their fourth seeds seed for 2023 due to their performance over the last two years, the LEC and LCS No. 4 seeds will play each other in a best-of-5 series, with the winner advancing to Worlds,” Riot Games revealed.
“This year, the WQS match will take place in NA, with the 2024 match anticipated to take place in EMEA. Details and schedules will follow, but the expectation is that the match will take place closely following the end of the regional season.”
The group stage portion of the play-in stage will also be removed and replaced with two converging brackets filled with best-of-three matches. Eight teams will start in the play-in stage, and the top two teams will advance to the main event of Worlds. In total, 13 international best-of series will be played before the main event of the World Championship begins.
“We’re excited to introduce the Swiss format to Worlds where every match matters for both opponents – there are no games that do not affect the outcome of the tournament,” Riot Games continued.
“Additionally, this allowed us to add 13 best-of series to the event without sacrificing the excitement that comes from a day full of best-of-1s.”
The knockout stage of LoL Worlds will remain the same, with single elimination remaining the standard for the tournament’s final phase. However, double elimination will be introduced to the knockout stage of the Mid-Season Invitational.
These changes come as Riot Games seeks to make the tournament more competitive, ensuring that every single game at Worlds has stakes and minimizing elimination games that do not impact the outcome of the tournament for both teams playing. By keeping Knockouts a single elimination best-of-five format, teams will have the opportunity to prove who is the best of the best, with no second chances, no breathing room, just one shot to win it all.
The new format is expected to attract more viewers and fans as it will ensure that the best LoL teams make it to the final stages, with no chance of a team with a losing record proceeding to the next stage. It will also provide a more competitive environment where teams will have to earn their spot in the knockout stage and every match will be critical to their chances of winning.