Photo credit: Riot Games
Game developer Riot Games has announced an expansion of its League of Legends European Championship (LEC) to include teams and players from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Turkey.
The overhaul will take effect in 2023 and will see the addition of an additional split to LEC’s usual two-split calendar. The league was also officially renamed the League of Legends EMEA Championship while retaining the LEC acronym.
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The main LEC franchise remains with the audience’s ten well-known teams, plus Team Heretics, which bought the spot previously owned by Misfits, and KOI, which merged with Rogue. The circuit will continue to feature the former Amazon EU Masters, renamed the Amazon EMEA Masters, with 13 EMEA Regional Leagues (ERL) to qualify for.
New ERLs include Turkish Championship League (TCL) and Arabian League (AL), renamed from Intel Arabian Cup. The League of Legends Continental League (LCL) remains suspended due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but could be included in the LEC in the future. However, players from the region will be given the same residency status as other players in EMEA.
Each of the three splits played in LEC, named “Winter Split”, “Spring Split” and “Summer Split”, count 10 teams in the regular best-of-one stage. Eight teams qualify for a best-of-three double-elimination group stage, where four teams qualify for the best-of-five playoffs.
Each split winner secures a spot at the LEC Season Finals, a season-ending tournament featuring the top six qualified EMEA teams throughout the year.
Additionally, the Spring Split winner will represent the region at the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). The LEC Season Finals will therefore provide qualifiers for the League of Legends World Championship.
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Riot Games said on its dedicated LoL EMEA website that the format is a “pilot program as LoL Esports considers broader changes to the competitive calendar and season structure in 2024.”
It added that if the format is a hit with fans, teams and professionals, the structure could expand to more regions in the future.
More details on how the LEC’s competitive structure will work will be released as the new season approaches, Riot said.
“We want EMEA to be a region that brings fans together across continents, vying for regional pride and international success,” Riot’s website reads.
“With this change, we are creating pathways for players to reach the top of League of Legends esports in the region and opportunities for fans across EMEA to unite to cheer on the teams they love.
Victor Frascarelli, journalist
Victor Frascarelli is a Brazilian esports business journalist focused on the Latin American market. Victor, who was previously with The Esports Observer for two years, enjoys everything competitive, from League of Legends to soccer to chess to CS:GO.