The LCS will drop the best-of-one format for its Summer season
Instead of every team playing one match per day, a best-of-one format that many players and fans argued didn’t always reward the best team, the LCS will test out two different formats starting in the Summer Split of 2016.
The NA LCS will feature a best-of-three format while the EU LCS will try best-of-two, with each league playing two sets each day of matches. The Spring Split will use the best-of-one format featured in the LCS during previous seasons, giving Riot time to increase its staff ahead of the Summer split’s more rigorous schedule.
That’s a mix of the formats favored by the two biggest leagues in Asia, Korea’s Champions league (LCK) and China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL). The LCK features best-of-three series, giving teams a taste of tournament-style play every match day, giving teams the ability to make adjustments through a series. The LPL uses a best-of-two format, a more consistent and concise play schedule that still allows teams a chance to adjust to their foes.
There are a couple reasons for the change. One is simply that a best-of-1 format doesn’t reward the better team nearly as often as playing more games. Another is that the format may have impacted North America and Europe’s ability to compete on the world stage, as teams from those regions had little experience competing in the series formats used in international tournaments. Teams in North America and Europe are able to prepare for each game on an individual basis during their regular season, with no need to make individual adjustments during the few minutes in between every match. A new format should help better prepare teams for those challenges.
As for which format to choose, Riot is essentially running an experiment to figure out what they like best. The best-of-three format is tough for a broadcast because you don’t have a clear schedule; each match could run two or three games, making it difficult for fans to follow a broadcast, but it offers a better gauge as to who the better team is and can produce incredibly exciting games in highly anticipated matchups. It can also drag on series that are mediocre at best. The best-of-two offers the best of both worlds except that it often produces ties, which Riot Games feels are unsatisfying for fans. That’s one reason why they’re trying best-of-two in Europe—they feel European fans, who are used to ties in other sports like soccer, compared to Americans, are more used to that kind of sporting result.
“Switching to this new Double Bo2 and Bo3 formats brings other challenges, including a more demanding schedule for players and more resources needed to support extended broadcasts,” Riot explained. “Ultimately when we looked at the individual demands of the EU and NA LCS we felt that the benefits from an entertainment and competitive standpoint outweighed these concerns.”
The biggest challenge may be the schedule. Riot will continue to air the EU LCS on Friday and Saturday, but now it'll run two streams simultaneously and play out two matches at the same time.
In North America, it's expanding the Saturday and Sunday schedule to include Friday as well. Friday will feature two best-of-three games back-to-back, while Saturday and Sunday will feature two simultaneously played series on two separate streams.
With major changes planned for the broadcast and schedule, Riot isn’t comfortable implementing the new format in the Spring, so we have to wait until Summer to see the changes in action. Even with the delay, it’s a welcome change that should get many fans excited for what promises to be a Summer Split packed with action.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr