The schedule, prize pool, and rules for the biggest League of Legends tournament in the world were revealed late last night. And late at night will be when you’ll watch the top players in the world go at it, at least if you are a North American who wants to enjoy the event live.
The earliest matches of the 2014 World Championships for League will air at 1am ET, but most games, including the grand final on Oct. 19, will start at 3am ET or later.
The World Championships are the culmination of a year’s worth of League, and Riot Games is making it a month-long spectacle.
The tournament spans Asia, traveling to a new destination every week. The schedule is a travel nightmare for teams, especially ones based out of North America and Europe. The first group stage will take place on Sep. 18 to 21 in Taipei, Taiwan, with the second group scheduled one week later on Sep. 25 to 28 in Singapore.
Surviving teams will head to Busan, Korea, one week later for the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and finals in Seoul each of the next two weeks. That’s a whole lot of travel, especially for teams without a home base in the region.
The tournament will award $2.13 million in prize money, with $1 million going to the best team in the game. That’s a pretty hefty sum, but Riot Games seems content to downplay the numbers, hiding them inside their rules instead of placing them at the forefront of their announcement.
That may be because the prize purse pales in comparison to the amount awarded at The International 4, the massive Dota 2 championship hosted by Valve with a crowd-funded prize pool of $11 million. Every member of Dota champs Newbee became instant millionaires, while League’s top team will split $1 million between five players.
The World Championship money mirrors the $2.05 million awarded last year, when SK Telecom T1 took the $1 million top prize.
The rules also include an age limitation, restricting participants to 17 years of age. That’s typical for the League Championship Series and Riot Games sponsored events in North America and Europe, but Chinese and Korean teams have different restrictions—and that’s a good thing. Counter Logic Gaming coach Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles pointed this out in a lengthy tweet outlining the cultural differences that produce young pro gamers in Korea, and how an age restriction would hurt pro players in Korea.
“If there was an age minimum in Korea, the pro teams would likely start creating practice squads of young players because they could retain talent without paying them for a starting spot,” he explained
That would prevent even superstar players, like world champion Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, from starting their professional careers at the time they were first ready.
OnGameNet, the largest league in Korea, implemented an age limit of 17 this year. But Koreans and Chinese calculate age differently than in the West, counting a newborn as one year old. Their 17 is our 16, meaning there could be some confusion with regards to the rule.
It’s unclear if the restriction affects any current teams, but the most likely source of conflict might be China. Last year, Chinese finalists Royal Club featured a 16-year-old superstar marksman, Jian “Uzi” Zihao, who would have been ineligible to compete under the current rules. A number of Pro League teams feature 16 year old players. Whether that keeps a team from using their primary roster remains to be seen.
Image via Riot Games