The Japanese LJL will follow the path of the Australian LCO, and will join the PCS-circuit, losing their direct way to the international League of Legends events.
The 2023 League of Legends World Championship concluded on November 19th, with T1 and Faker getting their 4th Worlds title, while the rest of the team could lift the Summoner’s Cup for the first time. With the last big event of the season ending, everyone is getting ready for 2024: the developers are working on the new map and items, the teams are signing new players, and the competitive division of Riot is also hard at work to make the esports scene of LoL even better. This is why the Japanese LJL will follow the Australian LCO and join the Southeast Asian PCS for the international circuit.
The LJL joins the PCS for 2024
This is the next step in the plan of creating an Asia-Pacific league, which Riot Games has started last year, when the LCO joined the PCS. They are far from done, as they need to fine tune the new pan-regional league, but the ultimate goal is to improve the competitiveness of each team and a region as a whole, so they can stand their ground against the world’s best at the international level.
As with the LCO players, the competitors playing in the Japanese league will also become PCS residents in terms of League esports, not taking up an import slot if a PCS team signs them. As for the LJL, the teams competing in the island-country will still need at least 3 Japanese players to be eligible for the LJL.
The LJL will also keep it’s domestic league with its Regular Seasons and Playoffs, but as with the Australian league, after the Spring and Summer Playoffs, the best Japanese squads will partake in the PCS playoffs, where the best teams will get a chance to play at international events, such as the Mid-Season Invitational and the League of Legends World Championship. However, the spots of the PCS will not be expanded, so only one LJL/LCO/PCS team can travel to the MSI, and only the 2 best can compete at Worlds.
The PCS Playoff’s format has changed, as it now includes 6 teams from the Southeast Asian league, as well as 2 Australian squads from the LCO, and 3 teams from the LJL. With 11 teams, the Playoffs are also longer with two stages, one for everyone, while Stage 2 is reserved for the highest seeded teams from each region, as well as the best performing rosters of Stage 1.
While the news about the LJL are just as sad as they were about the LCO, it seems to be the next logical step for the competitive scene. While DetonatioN FocusMe has managed to make it out of the Play-Ins at the 2021 World Championship for the first time in the region’s history, they haven’t been able to replicate their success that they achieved 2 years ago. Outside of DFM, there has rarely been a team that could perform inside the LJL, and outside of the Japanese league, they were one of the weakest regions. In the last 2 years, they had multiple last place finishes in international events, even after stomping domestically.
The change is needed as with the “level” included with the LJL’s addition to the PCS, players can get more experience against players and teams that are stronger and have performed better internationally (even though the PCS failed to make it out of the 2023 Worlds Play-Ins), and they even have a chance to get signed to these teams, getting firsthand experience. We will have to wait and see how these changes are affecting the league, as well as what Riot’s next step will be in expanding the new Asia-Pacific scene.