With the conclusion of the Summer Split just last week, the 2022 LCS regular season is now over. For most of the league, the end of the regular season is not the end of their year. Playoffs are fast approaching and the potential for a Worlds appearance makes the postseason increasingly more important.
This year, the playoffs are slated to be the closest they have been in a long time. So close in fact, that multiple prominent members of the community, including C9’s jungler Blaber, are calling this “one of the most competitive splits in LCS history.”
How is the LCS Championship Structured?
Unlike in other regions, almost all of the teams in the LCS are invited to compete in the Championship. Where the LEC and LCK only allow the top six teams to participate, the LCS accepts the top eight teams.
The tournament itself, like in the other regions, is double-elimination. This means that most of the teams will have to lose twice to be eliminated from the tournament. The LCS’s inclusion of two additional teams allows the top two teams in summer to get a bye. It also means that the two additional teams are the teams starting from the lower bracket (facing elimination) rather than the 5th and 6th place teams as in the LEC and LCK.
While this means that the best teams play less games, it allows the middle-of-the-pack teams to play more games and not face elimination right out of the gate.
This style, while under heavy criticism for the “free” games against the seventh and eight place teams in the lower bracket, has produced some of the most incredible lower bracket runs. The most prominent of which was in its first run, where TSM lost in the first round of the tournament and proceeded to pull off the longest lower bracket run in LCS history to narrowly win it all in the finals.
While it is unlikely that we will see a repeat of that this year, this controversial format makes performing well in the regular split very important. This year, Evil Geniuses (Summer #1) and 100 Thieves (Summer #2) earned themselves a bye round. This means that the remainder of the playoff teams will have to win at least one more series if they want to take home the trophy.
What Does the LCS Championship Look Like This Year?
The opening matches of the Championship pit the third place team against the sixth place team and the fourth place team against the fifth place team. Intrinsic to the LCS this distribution makes it so that the best performing teams in the summer are given the best chance to win (based on summer split records).
This year, Team Liquid (Summer #3) will face off against FlyQuest (Summer #6) and CLG (Summer #4) will play against C9 (Summer #5). The remaining two teams, TSM (Summer #7) and Golden Guardians (Summer #8), do not play in the opening weekend, but will only play elimination matches for the duration of the tournament.
Maintaining the advantage of placing higher during the regular season, 7th place TSM will face the loser of Team Liquid vs FlyQuest, whereas 8th place Golden Guardians will play the loser of CLG vs C9. Because of the likely skill disparity between 3rd and 6th, the 7th place team plays the loser of that matchup instead of the 4th vs 5th because—in most cases—they will face the lowest ranked team above them (the 6th place team) rather than the higher ranked 4th or 5th place teams.
This format is the same as in 2021; however, because the Summer Split record is no longer combined with the Spring Split record (as it was in 2021), only the Summer Split performances are taken into account for the playoff bracket seedings. Had the records been combined, the top of the table would look much different with Team Liquid and 100 Thieves getting a bye round over Evil Geniuses who performed comparatively poorly in Spring. Similarly, the worst performing team in Summer (3-15 Dignitas) would have had a chance to make the playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker due to their much better performance in Spring.
Formatting aside, the 2022 Championship starts on Saturday August 20th with Team Liquid versus FlyQuest. Be sure you do not miss this matchup when it starts at 4:00 EST.