Belgian and Dutch RELs merge, more changes to come

Nicholas James • October 5, 18:15

Riot Games is looking to overhaul the secondary league system in Europe, and the Belgian and Dutch leagues are the first to see changes. The change will see the total number of participating teams shrink, with various qualification methods being made available to them.

Discussions around changes to the REL system have been circulating of late, with reports of LEC teams no longer being required to field a secondary roster. Riot has further fleshed out the details of the RELs merging in its latest announcement.

What happens when the RELs merge?

As a part of its statement, Riot highlighted the specifics of the new Benelux ERL’s formation. With eight total slots, it will mean four of the current 12 teams split between the two regions will be losing out on qualification. The top three teams from the Belgian league and the top three teams from the Dutch league will be automatically qualified when the RELs merge.

The teams who do not automatically qualify will be seeded into a closed qualifier, with the top two sides earning a Benelux slot for the following year. These changes are something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the increased footprint will mean theoretically stronger rosters and more resources for the remaining teams. On the other, fewer teams mean fewer opportunities for rookie talents trying to break into the LEC.

More changes were also alluded to in the release, with a focus on standardization of region play. If done correctly, this could create a new pipeline to professional play for young talent. Following a clear path to LEC and regions beyond could supercharge Europe’s talent pool. The EU servers are known for producing prodigious talents aplenty, Danish mid laners in particular. If more RELs merge, European League of Legends could join Korea and China with a bustling amateur scene.

What other regions might still merge, emerge, or disappear has yet to be announced, but more news is sure to come. With the LEC slated to return January 14, 2022, much is set to change in the European region.

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