One thing that makes League of Legends unique among major esports is its league structure, more similar to professional sports leagues than the circuit style events in games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike.
It’s a great way to provide a regular broadcast schedule, with meaningful matches, a large sample size of games to really test players, and to build a local esports infrastructure in every region capable of producing top talent. But it lacks something the circuit format does well—the drama of international competition.
This year, Riot Games is looking to change that by introducing the Mid-Season Invitational, an international event where the champions from the Spring season of the world’s top leagues, the NA and EU League Championship Series, LoL Champions Korea, China’s LoL Pro League, and Taiwan’s LoL Master Series will clash to give fans a chance to sate their thirst for international competition. Also included is an international wildcard qualified from regions without professional leagues, including, for the first time, Japan.
This year’s tournament will take place on May 7-10 in North America, slotted at the midway point between the end of the Spring Split on April 19 and the start of the Summer on May 28.
That’s similar to last year’s All-Star Invitational, which included one team from each of five regions and a number of players voted in from each region to compete on pickup teams in a variety of game types.
The invitational essentially expands the team-based part of that event, something Riot Games is able to do after standardizing season schedules across each competitive region.
The silly fun of the All-Star festivities will not be included in the Mid Season Invitational. The All-Star game will still happen in 2015, but is moving to a new date in the Winter, after the World Championship shows people who the true all-stars really are.
The new event should help provide a better international spectacle during the long League of Legends year. It’s not really the “new competitive event” Riot bills it as in their announcement considering the All-Star Invitational in Paris last year served the same purpose, but it’s still an improvement in a competitive structure that Riot Games is fleshing out with every new year.