League of Legends developer Riot Games has announced new plans for the MOBA game’s esports division in Europe. Under the new proposals, the region will undergo a major metamorphosis heading into the 2023 season, with Europe set to merge with Turkey, CIS, and MENA to form a “single and united competitive region”: EMEA. There will also be major LEC format changes going into the new year.
“Over the past decade, our team has worked tirelessly to create an industry-leading esports ecosystem,” says director of LoL esports in EMEA Maximilian Peter Schmidt. “Today, 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 League’s Tier-2 European Regional League (ERL) circuit, which has subsequently been renamed ‘EMEA Regional League’. Likewise, the EU Masters (EM) event will now go by ‘EMEA Masters’.
Meanwhile, the LCL remains suspended, despite CIS now coming under the region’s jurisdiction. However, Riot “will continue to monitor the landscape and assess the possibility of including the league in the expanded ERL ecosystem at a later date.”
A further, significant 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. According to Schmidt, “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.”
Speaking of EMEA’s elite competition, the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) will be renamed ‘League of Legends EMEA Championship’ to reflect the merger. But the LEC isn’t changing in name alone, as a brand new format for 2023 is being introduced.
According to Riot, 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 prior to 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”, though it remains to be seen how that will materialise.
Speaking on the changes, global head of LoL esports Naz Aletaha says: “As we plan for the future of LoL Esports, we’re dedicated to building on top of the 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.”
Now under a single umbrella, League’s EMEA structure heavily resembles that of FPS cousin Valorant – the latter perhaps being an indication that the writing was on the wall for major structural change all along.
You can find out more about the changes over on the LoL EMEA website.