The North American League of Legends Championship series, or NA LCS, is a two-part yearly franchised league that allows 10 teams to compete with one another to earn spots at the Mid-Season Invitational and World Championship.
These two tournaments are the most important international League events in the world, with the latter being the most significant with the largest prize pool and impact on the game as a whole.
If you live in North America and you’re just getting into the game, or maybe you’ve been playing for a while and just haven’t gotten around to watching the game’s esports scene, we’re here to show you how to dive in. On top of those huge tournaments, the 10 teams of North America also compete in their own regional tournaments, complete with their own prize pools and a whole lot of bragging rights.
Here’s everything you need to know about watching the NA LCS.
The 10 teams of the NA regional league are all franchised. This means that they won’t be going anywhere, and they don’t have to fear being kicked out of the league by an amateur team at any point. The only time they’ll risk being kicked out is if they lose a lot—and we don’t mean lose a lot during one season, we mean lose a lot consistently, over the course of several years.
This lower level of risk means that each team can secure larger sponsors to help with content creation, player management staff, larger player salaries, and more. So pick a team to root for, and buckle up for the ride, because they aren’t going anywhere.
The 10 teams of the NA LCS are:
- Team Liquid
- Echo Fox
- 100 Thieves
- OpTic Gaming
- Golden Guardians
- Clutch Gaming
The North American league is split into two halves, the Spring Split and the Summer Split. There are 10 competitive weeks in each split leading up to the playoffs and ultimately the finals of each half of the year. The winner of the Spring Split finals gets to represent the entire region at the Mid-Season Invitational, and they have a chance to go to Worlds at the end of the year, which is the larger of the two international tournaments.
In order to lock in a slot at Worlds, teams are given points for placing high in the standings at the end of each split playoffs. If a team wins the Summer Split, they’re guaranteed a spot. The second spot is locked in by a team with the most points at the end of both splits, and the third team is decided by the Gauntlet, which is the regional qualifier mini-tournament to decide the third and final Worlds contender from NA.
During the Summer Split, the top three teams from the Spring Split get to compete against the European sister league in a much-less-serious tournament called Rift Rivals. There isn’t much on the line during this for-fun event, but it’s nice for the region’s top talent to get a chance to compare themselves to another region outside of a major event, at least.
Each split lasts between three and four months, including the playoffs for each.
There are two great places on the internet to catch official broadcasts of both the Spring and Summer Splits. The first and most popular is the official Riot Games Twitch channel. If you’re familiar with Twitch, it’s very standard. If you follow the channel, you can be notified when the seasonal games go live every Saturday at 4pm CT and Sunday at 2pm CT. Times may vary for regional tournaments.
The second broacast location is Riot’s official esports YouTube channel. Here, you won’t get the… charm that we call Twitch chat, but it appears that the broadcast is in slightly higher quality. The difference is negligible, though, and likely has to do with the platform, rather than with Riot’s own broadcast settings.
To see when your new favorite team is playing, be sure to check out Riot’s official schedule.