The ranked season for League of Legends started on January 11th and now it is time for the professional players to begin their play on the big stage in 2023. While there have been huge changes to the actual game during the pre-season, there have also been big changes to how pro-play works as well.
Historically, changes to pro-play have been few, far between, and small, but these changes are by no means small. They change how much each professional team plays, when they play, and how they can earn themselves a regional championship title. Here is the breakdown on how and when you can catch professional League of Legends from the US and European regions.
First, there is good news; Pro-play will end up having more games and spread across more days per week over the course of 2023. Starting this weekend of January 21st and 22nd, the LEC (European League) starts their first games of the Winter 2023 split. In the past, the LCS (US League) would also be starting to play on the same weekend as the LEC, but not this year.
Getting into some of the bad/controversial news, the LCS will start their season of games on Thursday and Friday of the next week at 1pm PST. What makes this controversial is that for many people in the US, these are working or school days and hours. The days of watching the LCS live on twitch.tv have come to an end for many people.
A big question on many fans’ mind is why? Well, the LCS has been losing viewers over the past few years, so much so that it is the least popular League out of the big four regions, Europe, China, and South Korea being the other three regions. There are several reasons for the viewership has been dropping, but long story short, these new times are an attempt at remedying the loss of viewers. The logic behind it is the LCS will no longer be competing with LEC on weekends and the earlier timeslot could attract European and Asian viewers to the LSC because the play times are more reasonable for their time zones. However, these changes could cost the LCS thousands of US-based viewers.
Another big change is to the number of games teams will play. In the past, there were 2 splits, Spring and Summer, with 2 round robins where each team would play the others twice over the course of each split, then the top 6 for the LEC and 8 for the LCS would move on to the playoffs. Now, there are 3 splits, each with one round robin, addition best of 3s, and its own set of playoffs. All in all, the amount of regular split games is the same, but there are double more games coming from the best of 3s and playoffs.
With more sets of playoffs, there are more championship titles to be earned. For pro players, this is a massive change because they no longer have to perform at their highest level over the course of 4 months to win a regional championship; they only have to perform at that level for 6 to 8 weeks. Taking into account patches to the game, some of which shift the meta, the teams will only have to deal with 3 or 4 patch changes over the course of split instead of 7 to 8. This should allow the pro game quality to be higher overall because teams no longer have to spend as much time learning a patch and can instead spend more time mastering their playstyles.
In conclusion, there changes are to LOL Esports in the LSC and LEC are positive because we will be seeing more games and potentially a higher level of play. However, there are some notable negatives to the schedule change for the US fans and the LCS.