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LEC Announces Major Format Changes Ahead of 2023

Esports article at Knup Sports

The LEC is looking to make major format changes ahead of the 2023 season. Read more about what the league will look like next year here.

The League of Legends European Championship (formerly EULCS) has operated under a two-split system since the 2018 overhaul. In 2018, the league shifted from a two-group Spring/Summer format to a one-group, ten-team, two-split format. Historically, each split has hosted 18 games in a double round-robin format, with a proceeding playoff based on round-robin record. The top six teams with the best records were ushered into the playoffs, where they competed in a single-elimination, best-of-five format until only one winner remained.

At that time, the league still promoted a relegation system, where the best ERL (European Regional League) teams would compete to replace the worst EULCS teams. The very next year, the league maintained their split format, but transitioned to a franchise system where teams could buy spots in the league and eliminate the threat of relegation for underfunded organizations.

Under this system, the league rebranded to the LEC, and has maintained the same system for nearly five years. In the wake of the sudden emergence of a fourth seed, the LEC experienced its first-ever Worlds qualification, where a team lost every game in the playoffs.

Seeking to provide a more competitive and fair environment, the LEC is looking to make a major overhaul in 2023.

LEC Regular Split in 2023

In place of the typical two-split system seen in the remainder of the major regions (LCS, LCK, LPL), the LEC is looking to transition to a more best-of-five centered layout. Starting in 2023, the LEC will have three splits, each hosting multiple best-of-three and best-of-five matchups.

The first of these splits, the Winter Split, will start on January 23rd, and feature three weeks of “regular season” matchups. Departing from the typical double round robin format, the new system will feature a ten-team single round robin where every win matters. In the past, teams have had the opportunity to rally and recover poor records in the second round robin. Now, however, the two lowest performing teams will not have the opportunity to compete in a split once the round robin ends. The top eight teams, on the other hand, will move on to a best-of-three, double elimination tournament for a chance at one of four spots in the Winter Split Playoffs.

The top four teams from this best-of-three tournament will move on to compete in the Winter Split Playoffs, while the bottom four will be eliminated from playoff contention. Those that remain in the top four will compete in a best-of-five, double elimination format to earn the title of Winter Split Champion. As in the current system, the top performing teams earn Championship Points: a type of currency that rewards consistent top teams with better placement in the World-qualifying playoffs at the end of the year.

The Spring Split and Summer Split operate under the exact same rules, each rewarding the top teams with championship points ahead of the final tournament of the year.

The tentative split dates are as follows:
Winter Split (January 23rd – February)
Spring Split (March – April)
Summer Split (June – July)

LEC Season Finals

For the first time in its history, the LEC will feature a separate regional finals tournament to award their Worlds seed. In the past, the Summer Playoffs have acted as the Worlds-seed-allocating tournament. Starting in 2023, however, the LEC will host the Season Finals.

The Season Finals invite the top six teams (via championship points) to the final LEC tournament of the year. To make winning the Winter, Spring, and Summer Splits important, the Season Finals guarantee a spot for each of the Split Champions across the three splits. This means that lower-seeded teams that have won a split are given precedence over teams with higher points. Similarly, if a single team wins multiple, or all, splits, the remaining teams with the highest Championship Points are invited to fill the remaining spots. Similar to the Split Playoffs, the Season Finals utilize a double elimination, best-of-five format where, presumably, the top three teams are invited to Worlds 2023.

This year, the LEC was afforded a fourth seed following a minor region’s decision not to host a season among the COVID-19 crisis. If that seed is reinstated for 2023, the Season Finals will push the top four teams to Worlds instead of three.
The tentative Season Finals dates are from August to September.

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