The League of Legends amateur scene.
The League of Legends amateur scene is plagued with many flaws, largely due to RIOT's incompetence. In this article I'll be going over the various flaws I've witnessed and what I believe are the easy solutions to this rather important problem.
I'll start off by saying, the league of legends amateur scene will always be overshadowed by the LCS solely due to the format of the LCS and consequently amateur players will always be overshadowed by LCS players. It's nigh impossible for an amateur or team to establish itself given the current situation.
Many of the issues with the amateur scene are a result of RIOT's peculiar implementation of the LCS and CS and the RIOT's consistently terrible qualifier format decisions. To highlight some of the issues with the qualifiers, here's a list of what I believe are the major issues:
- Using the ranked 5v5 ladder as a qualifier for the challenger series.
Now, i wouldn't have much issue with this as long as riot reset the ladder and made sure the match making wasn't easily manipulated. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The ranked 5v5 ladder is a terrible system for figuring out the best amateur teams. Reasons being, most league of legends players are students or work jobs, they don't have the time to grind the ladder to qualify. It's ridiculous to expect players to give up on their studies and job and risk their livelihood to compete in an amateur scene that's not even profitable. Add on the fact that the ladder doesn't reset at the end of the season, the fact RIOT take a very long time to announce the deadline and the fact it's extremely difficult to set up a team and practice in this short amount of time, it's entirely unreasonable to expect aspiring amateurs to grind the ladder. Additionally, the ladder matchmaking system is massively flawed. It's possible for teams to manipulate the matchmaking and make sure teams lower than them don't have the ability to climb the ladder, either by dodging ques or sitting at the top of the ladder without playing. As a result of all of this, it's far too common that inferior teams qualify while stronger teams are screwed out of a great opportunity. It's also common that amateur players are completely turned away from competing solely due to the ridiculous qualifiers.
2. Limiting the challenger series to 6 teams.
There is absolutely no reason to limit the amateur league to 6 teams. All it does is hinder the amateur scene. It's disgraceful that this is the situation. The amateur scene should be an open environment for aspiring amateurs to access and compete in whenever they feel like it. Amateur players should have the ability to sign up and play tournaments on a weekly basis. They should be able to climb their way up to a professional level at any point of the year. They shouldn't have to wait 6 months to play in some terrible qualifier.
3. The lack of double elimination in the qualifiers.
If you're going to use the ranked 5v5 ladder as qualifiers for the qualification tournament then double elimination is a must. The 5v5 ladder isn't a good representative of team rankings. It does nothing to seed the tournament. Double elimination is a great format for determining the best teams. If the two best teams match up against each other early on in the bracket, you have a really terrible situation where one of your best teams is out early on meanwhile an objectively inferior team continues on solely due to the terrible seeding of the bracket. It's a terrible situation and double elimination is a perfect solution.
4. The lack of tournaments and sponsors.
Fortunately sponsors are quickly taking an interest in the amateur scene, however, the tournaments still aren't there. If riot insist on using their terrible CS format then it's compulsory for other tournaments to exist and it's extremely important for amateur players to compete in these tournaments. It's also equally as important for the fans to pay attention to these tournaments.
Growing the amateur scene isn't a one man job. The players, the fans and most importantly, the organisations all play a major role in growing the amateur scene.
5. The lack of competition between amateur and professional teams.
This is the biggest issue with league of legends amateur scene. To improve you have to play stronger competition and RIOT not allowing for any competition between the amateur and professional scene is a massive handicap for the amateurs. If we take a look at china, Tencent have helped organise several competitions between amateur and professional teams and as a result, LSPL teams are no longer considered amateur or challenger teams. They're considered professionals playing in a second league. Personally I believe the consistent competition between amateur and professional teams is what allowed for the overall level of the amateur scene to increase.
So those are my major issues. Now onto the solutions.
The solutions are actually incredibly simple and nothing new:
- Allow amateur teams to compete versus professional teams.
This is incredibly important. I've explained why above.
2. Change the format of the challenger series.
What I would do is make the challenger series a biweekly online tournament. Open it up to 32 or 64 teams and play it out throughout the week. Set restrictions on the elo of the players i.e make sure the players are all diamond/masters or higher and allow any team to sign up for the online tournament. Award teams points based on their placements and at the end of the split, after five or six of these biweekly tournaments, accumulate the points and give the top five teams the opportunity to compete in a 8 team double elimination bracket with the bottom three LCS teams to qualify for the LCS.
3. Partner with third party leagues to help provide amateur tournaments
It's incredibly important to give players the opportunity to compete in major tournaments. This goes for both LCS pros and amateurs.
The amateur scene is the foundation of every eSport. It's RIOT and every fan's obligation to help the amateur scene thrive and give aspiring players an accessible and competitive environment. For the future of eSports it's important for tournaments organisers, developers and fans alike to invest and support an open and accessible amateur scene.