Sweeping format changes are coming to European League of Legends.
Riot and LEC just announced the creation of EMEA as a region in League of Legends esports, along with format changes to the LEC and ERL ecosystem, in a press conference. Representing Riot at this conference were Maximilian Peter Schmidt (Director, League of Legends Esports, EMEA) and Alberto Guerrero (Head of Esports, Riot Games). The pair explained the changes, then answered questions from the attending press members.
Q: “What are your expectations on the LEC viewership going forward?”
Schmidt: “Heart of the decision was to ensure we deliver the best possible product for the fans. We wanted to give them a reason to watch for every part of the year. Our honest expectations are that the entirety of the content being watched or the hours watched will hopefully go up. If we do a good job we can even see an increase in average viewership despite the additional days.”
Q: “Will the LEC Season Finals be the only roadshow for LEC?”
Schmidt: “For 2023, the expectation should be that we have the one roadshow at the end like a capstone event. In the future, we will explore additional avenues.”
Q: “Is there a possibility to have LCL return during the year? Or is there no LCL for 2023?”
Schmidt: “It really depends on how the situation develops. As of now, there is no indication or no expectation that we would make any changes regarding LCL’s integration in 2023. It’s not off the table and it can happen in the second part of the year, but I don’t foresee that happening realistically.”
Q: “Back in 2023, the decision was made to cancel the Bo3 format. Why bring it back? Does it have anything to do with being more competitive with LCK and LPL?”
Schmidt: We have seen in the last couple of years that the number of people asking for Bo3s to be reintroduced has gotten larger and larger. And we want to cater to these fans and deliver them the best possible experience. And we feel like the way we are introducing Bo3s, we are getting the best of both worlds.”
Q: “How will the LEC decide on their MSI representatives with two splits before the tournament?”
Schmidt: The MSI representative will be the Spring Split champions.
Q: “What about the transfer windows and contract durations? Aren’t you afraid of creating some chaos between three LEC splits format and two ERL splits format?”
Schmidt: I think there is a misunderstanding about how the free agency works. Free agency happens one time, at the end of the year. But there are transfer windows open throughout the entirety of the splits already anyway. Teams can already make changes during the split which is always risky as they are continuing to compete. With these changes, teams will have more opportunities to make changes and adjust to them accordingly with the breaks and bootcamp opportunities, etc.”
Q: “One thing the ERLs have and LEC doesn’t is the co-streams. With the big fanbases like KOI and Heretics entering the league, have you thought about co-streaming?”
Schmidt: Co-streaming is a topic we are constantly re-evaluating together with our teams to ensure that we find the right balance. We are currently broadcasting LEC in various different languages which are technically co-streamed across the entire region by our local language broadcast partners. And we want to ensure these are also viable streams and they are not competing against potential co-streamers. The LEC is also a highly curated product and we want to ensure that we keep the quality standards high. But that being said, I think we all see co-streaming as a potential avenue in the future, which is why we will continue to evaluate it.”
Q: “Will there still be two splits for ERLs and will they be played offline or online? With that in mind that Turkish teams might play with higher ping.”
Schmidt: Ping issue is something we looked into in detail with our Competitive Operations team to ensure that we have solutions for the potential ping issues and that the ping differences are at justifiable levels for the EMEA Masters. We are expecting to host the majority of the EM online as we have done this year. More details on that to follow in the upcoming weeks and months.”
Q: “LCK announced today that they will have integrated rosters. With many LEC teams having sister teams in the EMEA Masters, was there any consideration on having integrated rosters for 2023?”
Schmidt: We already have a very fluid process between the Academy, or secondary, teams and the main teams in the LEC. That is something we’ve been fine-tuning in the last couple of years and obviously something we will continue to do so. But I don’t think we are in a bad spot at all in that regard.”
Q: “How much do the changes implemented in the VALORANT’s VCT ecosystem influence the way you implemented these changes?”
Guerrero: I would say that while we learned a lot from all the products we have and we try to use best practices we discover in all places, the League of Legends is the most mature ecosystem we have, and has its own path. And most of the decisions made come through the learnings of operating the LEC and the ERLs, and are not much influenced by the VALORANT ecosystem. Most of the opposite, VALORANT is following a lot of the good decisions and good practices we’ve done in League of Legends”
Schmidt: “That’s a fair assessment. We are obviously in close contact to understand if there are any major shifts. That being said I don’t think we take any direct inspiration from VALORANT specifically in this regard.”
Q: “With LCL and TCL losing their Worlds slots, should we expect four slots for the EMEA region at the Worlds this year?”
Schmidt: “I talked to Naz (Naz Aletaha, Global Head of LoL Esports), I think if we win MSI we probably have a solid case but it will remain to be seen.”
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