North American League of Legends is set to undergo a significant change in 2021.
According to Travis Gafford, the LCS will be restructured for the next season in a number of different ways. This includes a merger of the spring and summer splits, new tournaments, and an expansion of the academy system.
The removal of the spring split is the most eye-catching change. The LCS has used a few different systems for determining its qualifying entrants to the World Championship, working with a circuit system through Championship Points in 2019 and shifting to sending top teams from the summer split in 2020.
2021 will have a system more similar to a traditional sports league, with the spring and summer splits being merged into a single regular season. The season will still be divided in two by a qualification tournament for the Mid-Season Invitational, with the winner of that event heading to LoL’s second-largest international tournament.
Alongside this is a larger schedule that will see five round robins in the new season instead of four divided between two splits. The LCS will have action weekly between Friday and Sunday to accommodate for this. There is no word on whether pro players will have any sort of extra compensation to account for the additional games.
Before the season begins, a new tournament will also be introduced. This tournament will christen the new season and give fans a first look at the new lineups with an event similar Korea’s KeSPA Cup.
It isn’t just the LCS that’s being changed, but the entire developmental system for LCS organizations. While LCS organizations have secondary “academy” teams that play one another in a closed academy league, this is set to change in 2021. The LCS will move to a more open format that incorporates academy teams with amateur and semi-pro teams seen in events such as the Upsurge Premier League and the Legends Weekend League.
This will likely see LCS teams change how they approach developing talent, with Gafford stating that teams will likely take a page from the book of 100 Thieves. Though 100 Thieves competes in the LCS and has 100 Thieves Academy, it also has the 100 Thieves Next team that plays in amateur leagues. This could result in a tiered farm system similar to that of Major League Baseball.
None of these changes have been confirmed by Riot Games and the company refused comment. LCS fans are already buckled in for the roster shuffle period that kicks off later this month, but bigger announcements are likely to follow.