In September 2017, the ESPN reported that Riot Games will split the European LCS into a four-region format similar to Champions League. The 2018 EU LCS season was supposed to be geographically based with four different headquarters in major European cities Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and London. Each region was supposed to consist of six teams where top two teams would get to compete in a top-flight event. The reports of new changes emerged after Riot Games already made significant alterations in NA LCS. However, rumor has it Riot Games will postpone these regional plans.
What is going to happen now?
Just a month after the news about regional plans emerged, new rumors state that Riot Games will postpone these major changes. Instead of dividing the league into four different geographical regions, Riot Games will opt for a single-game, double round-robin format which is identical to the changes for 2018 season of NA LCS. This way, instead of including 24 teams the league will stay with the 10-team format for now. Reportedly, Riot Games will increase the stipend paid to each team from $410,555 to $586,365.
Why did they change the plans?
Riot Games make all sorts of announcements all the time, but they always follow through which is why players and fans are updated about new changes more frequently than they’d like. That’s why the reports about postponing plans seem odd and shocking. So, why the sudden change of heart? According to reports from multiple sources, two EU LCS teams Unicorns of Love and H2K Gaming published open letters to the League of Legends. In these letters, both teams expressed their concerns about the financial instability of the league and threatened to leave if the conditions didn’t improve. This could also explain why Riot Games decided to increase stipend teams receive regularly, they want to improve financial outlook of the teams and, thereby, the league itself. At the same time, the increased stipend will lead to higher paycheck for the players. With this money, teams would also be able to pay coaches and auxiliary team members that are vital for the team’s success. Sticking to the league of 10 teams will prevent brand sponsorships from being stretched too thin among different teams. While in leagues with better financial status, such as NA LCS, this wouldn’t be a problem. In European league more teams and less money from sponsors would add more to financial insecurity.
Was the decision about viewership?
Another possible explanation for the sudden change of opinions is that many fans and players have expressed problems and disappointment with the decision to shift from Bo2 and Bo3. At the same time, the events from Riot Games are gradually losing viewership with a decreased number of people opt to watch streams. The new report about postponing these changes could indicate that the esports mogul wants to stick to the format that works. This is especially important if we bear in mind that two leagues, NA LCS and EU LCS, established their live stream channels which turned out to be a bad decision regarding viewership. That’s why the matches will move back to singular live stream channels instead. The ESPN reports that Riot Games was concerned it wouldn’t be able to implement the regional changes adequately, which is why postponing the new format seemed like a logical maneuver.
Just a month ago, reports emerged that Riot Games will divide EU LCS into four regions and increase the number of teams to 24. However, rumor has it the esports and multimedia mogul will postpone these plans and several theories could explain the decision. All in all, it looks like EU LCS 2018 will retain its format while teams are still disappointed by financial instability.
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About the Author: Amna El Tawil is a news reporter and a technology blogger. For the past five years, she has worked for major publications and TV networks in the Middle East, covering one of region’s hotspots. When Amna is not chasing after the truth amidst gas canisters, she can be found cheering her favorite football team on, or unwinding with some online gaming.