LCS Academy League changes name to North American Challengers

Nicholas James • November 10, 2022 11:45 pm

Riot Games’ amateur-to-pro pipeline league LCS Academy League will change its name to the North American Challengers League.

The LCS Academy League was founded alongside the franchised LCS system as a way to ensure that up-and-coming talents still had a way to reach the LCS by having the franchised organization train amateur talent and foster lesser-known players for the big stage. Riot Games has decided that a new look is needed and will usher in the North American Challengers League.

Academy League becomes North American Challengers League

Riot Games announced sweeping changes to the Academy League, and more specifically its closure and replacement with the North American Challengers League. The changes were outlined in an official announcement published by the LCS on Twitter and on the LoL Esports website. The new league will consist of the ten franchised teams’ semi-pro rosters previously dubbed Academy teams as well as six other provisional teams drawn from the amateur circuit. These provisional teams will have to worry about relegation, with the bottom four teams facing the top four teams from the yearly NACL Open Qualifiers in order to compete for their spot.

In addition to these changes, all players in the new league will be subject to a Notification of Interest system where LCS organizations can officially state interest in a player under contract with another organization. This is meant to avoid issues with poaching and player contract specifics. This is a direct way for top-tier organizations to let players know they have an interest in them.

Overall, this seems to be an incredibly positive change for North America’s young talent, with new teams and players joining the amateur leagues, the possibility of promotion and relegation, and a more open contract policy for rising stars. There doesn’t seem to be any major downside to Riot Games’ new plan for now, as it will funnel more players into NA’s professional infrastructure. At the same time, it will open up more space at the table for amateur organizations to play against franchised LCS organizations.

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