Riot Games announces LEC format changes as part of 2023 EMEA restructure
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League of Legends developer Riot Games has announced new plans for the game’s esports set up in Europe.
Under the new proposals, the region will receive major changes next season, with Europe set to merge with Turkey, CIS and MENA to form a “single and united competitive region” – EMEA.
The LEC will now take place across three splits: Winter, Spring and Summer. Winter and Spring will take place prior to the Mid-Season Invitational, while Summer will conclude before LoL Worlds.
Each of these three splits will kick off with a best-of-one, single round-robin competition. From there, the top eight teams will be placed into a best-of-three, double-elimination group stage bracket. The best four teams will then move onto the final, best of-five, double elimination playoffs.
At the end of the Summer Split, the top six teams from across the season – with the winners of each split automatically qualifying – will face off in the LEC Season Finals to decide who will make it to Worlds. The Season Finals are also set to feature a “roadshow event on the final weekend of the competition”.
In 2022, the LEC returned to LAN events with the finals in Malmo, Sweden at the 15,000 capacity Malmo Arena.
The title was surprisingly clinched by Team Rogue who saw off Fnatic in the semi-final, before clean sweeping hot-favourites G2 Esports in the final.
"We’re excited to reveal our plan for the next decade of LoL Esports in EMEA, and the changes we’re bringing to the LEC and wider ecosystem to continue offering a best-in-class experience to our players."
Maximilian Peter Schmidt, Director of LOL Esports in EMEA
Maximilian Peter Schmidt, Director of LOL Esports in EMEA said: “We’re excited to reveal our plan for the next decade of LoL Esports in EMEA, and the changes we’re bringing to the LEC and wider ecosystem to continue offering a best-in-class experience to our players.”
As part of the new structure, the Turkish Championship League (TCL) and Arabian League (AL) will link up with the Tier-2 European Regional League (ERL) circuit, which has been renamed “EMEA Regional League”. Similarly, the EU Masters (EM) event will now go by “EMEA Masters”.
The LCL remains suspended, despite CIS now coming under the new EMEA region’s jurisdiction. Riot has said it “will continue to monitor the landscape and assess the possibility of including the league in the expanded ERL ecosystem at a later date.”
Despite CIS covering a significant area, LCL has only ever seen orgs from Russia and Ukraine take part.
An additional result of the merger is that all players with residency status in Europe, Turkey, CIS and MENA can all compete in the LEC without being subject to Riot’s Interregional Movement Policy. Schmidt states : “these changes will further enhance the opportunities for professional and aspiring LoL players in the region, giving them more avenues to reach the elite level of competition in EMEA.”
LEC itself is being slightly renamed, from League of Legends European Championship to League of Legends EMEA Championship, and there is even more change on the way.
Global head of LoL esports Naz Aletaha said: “As we plan for the future of LoL esports, we’re dedicated to building on top of the overall foundation we laid in our first decade, growing the overall competitive landscape to a meaningful, multi-tiered ecosystem and maintaining the upward trajectory for many years to come.”
Opening up the LEC to an even wider audience does make a lot of a sense, as it looks to close the gap on the bigger audiences of the LPL, LCK and LCS.