EU LCS moves to Bo3 group format, only two teams sent to relegation matches

by Daniel Rosen Dec 14
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Not to be outdone by the sweeping changes the NA LCS made earlier today, Riot has added a three-stage group system to the EU LCS, changes to the promotion tournament and an increased prize pool.

First and foremost, EU LCS teams will now play in a group format that is very similar to the format used by China's LPL during the 2016 season. The teams will be split across two groups and play within their own groups from Weeks 1-3, then play the opposing group's teams from Weeks 4-7, then finally return to their initial groups for Weeks 8-10.

The groups will be determined through a draft. Seeds for the group draft are determined through last season's championship points, meaning that G2 Esports and H2k-Gaming will be given the two highest seeds and placed in two separate groups.

G2 will start the draft by picking a team they want to see placed in H2K's group, followed by H2K picking the team they want to see placed in G2's group. After that, the teams selected by the first two teams will pick another two teams that they want to see placed in the opposite group.

So if, for example, G2 were to pick Fnatic and place them in Group B, and H2K were to pick Splyce to play in Group A, then Fnatic would pick the next team to be placed in Group A and Splyce would pick the next team to be placed in Group B.

The playoffs format will remain mostly the same, though instead of the top two teams from the regular season being seeded into the semifinals, the top team from each group will get that seed instead. For the quarterfinals, the second place team from Group A will play the third place team from Group B and vice versa.

“This conference-style group format will offer us the interesting dynamics and stories we know from group play in tournaments, and ensure that every team in the league plays each other at least once via the cross-group phase,” Riot stated in a press release. “With the move to Bo3, we’ll add an additional layer of strategic depth to each match and will have a clear winner for each series. Also, the format will enable us to offer a more focused content experience via a single stream setup, avoiding fans having to pick and choose matches to watch in a hard-to-predict Bo3 schedule.”

All matches in the new EU LCS format will be best-of-three, a change from the best-of-two matches Europe played last split. On top of that, there will no longer be two streams for EU games, with all games being broadcast on a single Twitch channel. As a result, games will now be broadcast from Thursday to Saturday, with extra games being played on Sundays during Weeks 2, 7 and 10.

On top of this massive change to the regular season format, Riot is also implementing all the policy changes made to the NA LCS earlier today in the EU LCS as well. This includes reducing the number of LCS teams that are sent to the promotion tournament to two. As a result, the fifth place team in each group will be sent to the promotion tournament.

Other changes include a doubled prize pool, an independent arbitration process and a minimum guaranteed revenue of €50,000 per split from digital goods.

“As leagues around the globe mature and grow, so will their competitive and economic structures,” Riot stated in a press release. “In Europe, we are striving to create a more multi-layered competitive ecosystem, offering a bigger array of opportunities for seasoned and aspiring competitors over the coming years.

“We’ll continue to further develop thriving regional Esports environments that are linked with pan-European competition in a meaningful way and are looking forward to offering a more diversified competition structure for Europe in the long-term.”

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.