The NA expansion tournament kicks off on Saturday
Tomorrow the top amateur teams in League of Legends will begin the battle to reach the professional ranks.
The League Championship Series expansion tournament will see two teams enter the prestigious and lucrative competition, expanding the lineup from 8 to 10 squads. 14 teams will participate in the expansion event, the highest stake amateur event since League of Legends first began the LCS.
The competitors are just four wins away from living their professional gaming dreams.
The tournament plays out as a 16 team bracket, with two teams holding byes. After the first two rounds and just four teams remain, the tournament switches to double elimination. The first two rounds of the tournament will be played online, with the double elimination round live in studio.
Tomorrow the first round of the North American expansion tournament will whittle that field down to eight teams remaining.
The nominal favorites have to be Complexity Black and Curse Academy, holders of the top two seeds by virtue of their place in the promotion tournament. Complexity features the core of the LCS squad that found themselves relegated after a harsh series with Team 8 earlier this year. Curse Academy nearly upset Counter Logic Gaming to reach the LCS, taking a 2-0 lead in their promotion series before dropping three games in a row.
The two teams feature talented lineups filled with experienced players and should have more familiarity with each other than many of the squads in the competition—a flurry of roster moves saw organizations gear up before the event, putting talent ahead of team cohesion.
Team Coast failed in the relegation tournament with a roster featuring two Korean imports, so they’ve turned to Europe to put together a powerful squad. Jesse “Jesiz” Lee and Matt “Impaler” Taylor flew across the pond in an LCS bid.
The fan favorite team might be Team Fusion, a squad built around legendary top laner Yoon “MaKNooN” Ha-woon. The famously aggressive player moved to America to revive his pro gaming career. The expansion tournament is the perfect opportunity—this is the only chance players have to qualify for the League Championship Series without being recruited by a current LCS team or spending a full season in the challenger league. Joining Yoon is a roster filled with LCS veterans like Zach “Nien” Malhas and Nicolas “Gleeb” Haddad.
Another contender is Complexity White, a team built around the two castoffs from the LCS Complexity squad, Jonathan “Westrice” Nguyen and Kevin “Kez” Jeon. The team picked up challenger veterans like Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer and managed to qualify for the tournament through the ladder. The problem? They landed into a tough bracket: should they win their first round game against Monstar, they’ll be up against Curse Academy, a very tough draw.
Another hot second round match will pit Coast against Team LoLPro, a squad filled with top players on the challenger ranked ladder. LoLPro placed fourth in the Summer challenger series, just missing out on a spot in relegations, but they’ve brought in a completely new roster for the expansion event. Jungler James “Thinkcard” Slotkin subbed in the LCS for Counter Logic Gaming and Evil Geniuses, considered one of the top American junglers outside the league. Mid laner David “Yusui” Bloomquist is another rising star, recently receiving hype as a possible replacement for Curse Gaming’s departing midlaner Joedat “Voyboy” Esfahani.
But those are just the big name teams. Plenty of other squads feature talented players hungry to make their mark on the big stage, and make no mistake—this stage is huge. The first two rounds may be played online, but it will be a bloodbath as teams pull out all the stops trying to reach their professional gaming potential.
On Saturday Complexity White and Team Coast will ply their trade, while Team Fusion and Team LoLPro will make their competitive debuts on Sunday.
November 15-16: NA Round 1
November 22-23: NA Round 2, EU Round 1
November 29-30: EU Round 2
December 12-14: NA Round 3
December 18-21: EU Round 3
Will the favorites like Complexity and Curse Academy dominate the field and reach their LCS destinies? Will a new contender emerge from the pack? The expansion tournament will run over the next month and should give us a glimpse at the future of the greatest esports league on the planet.
Image via Riot Games