Making LCS more meaningful experience for viewers and players
Since the beginning of LCS back in 2013 there has been talk about the best of one format that is used during the regular split and how it really does not show how good a team is as a game of league of legends can be decided as early as in pick and ban phase. Surprise pick, some kind of early game cheese or just bad preparing can cause your team to lose that one match without giving possibility of adapting to your opponent. Obviously one match is not the decider of your whole split as everyone plays 18 matches during the regular split, 2 times against every team. Even though Riot has improved LCS every split, I feel there is still room for improvements to make it better learning experience for the teams while offering more entertainment for viewers.
My biggest suggestion is changing the BO1 format in to a BO3 format. Every team would play BO3 against each other two times during the regular split. Obviously this creates a problem where either the split has to be made longer or the broadcast would have to run more hours each week. There is also a possibility to overlap EU and NA matches but I don’t think Riot really wants to cut their viewership numbers by forcing fans to choose which stream to watch. However I have made a format which requires one extra day of LCS but I don’t consider this to be a problem for the teams, Riot or the viewers.
Example format would be following:
3 EU Bo3’s
3 EU Bo3’s
2 EU Bo3’s
2 NA Bo3’s
3 NA Bo3’s
3 NA Bo3’s
But what really makes best of three superior to best of one?During Saturdays the broadcast would have to start earlier to give enough time for all the matches to be played. However I don’t consider this to be a real problem as weekends in general are more flexible for viewers. I feel that Monday is perfect day for the last games of LCS as there is generally no League of Legends matches going on that day. Obviously this might hinder the viewership numbers a bit but I still consider BO3’s are a good trade for some viewers.
I already quickly mentioned what are possible downsides of best of ones, however I would like to extend my reasoning a bit even though there has been other people already talking about the need for change in the format. I feel that the format gives teams possibility to prepare for the format of LCS playoffs as well as a chance to learn how to adapt to your opponents picks after playing them once. BO1 does not give you that possibility as there is a chance you play the same opponents first time on week 1 and next time on week 8. During that period the meta most likely has changed, making those notes you made after your first match completely obsolete. But when playing against the same opponent right after the first game, you can ban that surprise Urgot mid that you weren't expecting at all or come up with a strategy to counter it. Obviously every team won’t have the ability to adapt to picks even during bo3, however there is a possibility that some teams actually shine after one defeat in the series.
BO3 also clears the rankings between teams by telling bigger and better story about how two teams match up against each other. With current format viewers are left wondering what would happen in the next game between two teams who just played very close 60 minute game. If that match would be clear cut 20 minute victory for Team A, it would be more clear which team is better one. And if the results is another close match, we could deduct that both teams are quite equal match-up.
Scheduling can cause issues with viewership numbers but I don’t think we should be looking at LCS and only considering how many viewers the stream manages to attract. It is already clearly visible that a match between lower tier teams results in loss of viewership numbers, obviously the result is that best of three series between these teams would cause the same problem. But on the other hand classic matches like TSM vs CLG would draw even more viewers with different format.
Why best of five is not reasonable option
When talking about best of three format being introduced to LCS, there is always few people talking about how best of five format would be even better. I am sure no one denies that in BO5 format the better team will shine, usually this argument is paired with the example of SKT T1 K vs KTB during HOT6iX Champions Summer 2013 where SKT T1 K stepped up and won the series after being behind 0-2. However having each team playing 18 games during the split with BO5 format is not reasonable as even a 3-0 victory will take multiple hours. I feel that best of three is the absolute best we can achieve during the regular split of LCS without prolonging the regular season or making the broadcast last absurd amount of hours each week.
What about bo2 model?
LPL is known for running with best of two model during their regular split and as a format it is better than plain best of one. Problem with BO2 comes when teams split the match 1-1. Then the question arises “Who would have won game 3? “ This is a question which we won’t get answered in this format. Bo2 does give better idea about the power levels of different teams but it is not as optimal format as Bo3. However I would consider this as a good upgrade to current Riot format if for some reason the best of three format can’t be introduced into LCS.