UPDATE: The LPL Reserve League begins on January 19th at 12:00 AM EST. Participating teams include LGD Gaming, QG Reapers, Invictus Gaming, EDward Gaming, Snake eSports, Vici Gaming, Oh My God, Royal Never Give Up, Team WE, and Energy Pacemaker All. The first match will be between EDward Gaming and Energy Pacemaker All.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: In addition to a recent announced change in the LPL format, Tencent have revealed that major changes will come to leagues that feed into the LPL and involve LPL teams and clubs in a recent update.
The first three sections of the update from Tencent Games reviewed the past developments of the LPL, LSPL and Demacia Cup. In the final section, Tencent briefly outlined changes that will come to the competitive Chinese circuit.
Tencent first revealed that the Reserve League will begin this year. Though they did not specify when, it will most likely start during the summer split. As already indicated in an earlier report, the reserve league will be a best-of-three format featuring benched rookie players. Ten LPL clubs will be invited to the league, and a single round robin will take place between them.
As for the players taking part in the reserve league, Tencent offered only this vague statement:
"The selection will be during the spring and summer seasons, then some online selection, some offline splitting of groups, then finally the clubs will have their picks of elite amateur players. The point is to let clubs find players they need and for players to join the clubs they want."
It is unclear as to whether clubs can only recruit players without competitive experience for the league, but it is likely that organizations will draw heavily from solo queue to draft their reserve teams.
With the inclusion of the LPL Reserve League, the League of Legends Secondary Pro League, which currently feeds into the LPL, will shrink.
Tencent says the number of teams should drop from 16 to 12 for the summer season and the format will change from a pre-2015 Champions tournament system to a double round robin best-of-one, as it was in 2014. The first place team will be auto-promoted to the LPL, and second and third place teams will have a chance to play the Promotion tournament.
In keeping with the reduction in size of the LSPL, the Tencent Games Arena qualifier for the LSPL will only promote two teams instead of four in the coming splits.
In 2017, the Demacia Cup format will change to a single year tournament with 16 teams instead of 28. The 12 LPL teams will be invited, but only four teams from the LSPL will participate. For the first half of the tournament, a best-of-one round robin group stage between the 16 competing teams will occur. In the second stage, the top four teams will be promoted to a bracket. End of year awards will again occur in the second stage.
These changes seem designed to move more toward a franchising system and place a larger burden on established organizations to raise new players and teams through the reserve league. As a result, there may be fewer opportunities for new organizations to develop.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.