League of Legends has a huge competitive scene with many leagues across the world. For a newer viewer, it’s easy to get lost deciding what competitions are worth following. Luckily, we’ve prepared this guide to introduce you to the most popular leagues and explain what makes them so special.
The NA LCS stands for the “North American League of Legends Championship Series”. It’s a league of 10 teams that play each other in Bo3s—head-to-head matches where the first team to take 2 games secures the win. The league plays out over the course of 9 weeks of the regular season. Then 6 teams with the most wins enter the playoffs where they face off against other contenders for the title.
Until recently, the bottom two teams had to participate in the promotion tournament where they fought for their spot against the up-and-coming lineups from the minor Challenger league. But that’s about to change as the LCS is switching to a franchising model, meaning that teams will have permanent slots in the competition.
Since LoL was created in North America, you’d expect this region to be king in pro play. But that’s not really the case. In fact, the NA LCS is considered one of the weaker leagues due to the lack of domestic talent and laid-back player mentality. But while it isn’t the most competitive region, it’s definitely one of the more entertaining ones, and every season of the NA LCS has thrilling storylines and polarizing personalities that glue thousands of viewers to their screens.
The reigning champion of the NA LCS is TSM—a lineup that’s been to every finals since the league’s inception.
The EU LCS stands for the “European League of Legends Championship Series” and takes place in Berlin. While the format resembles its North American sister league, the EU LCS has several notable differences. For one, the regular season takes place over the span of 10 weeks, although teams play noticeably less matches. Finally, the league announced that it has no intention of making the switch to the franchising model, and the bottom two teams still have to fight for their LCS slots at the end of the season.
The European league is home to outstanding individual talent. Here you will see displays of exceptional micro and skill as well as innovative playstyles and unorthodox strategies. Most EU LCS teams aren’t that great at strategy—after all, you have to make five players that don’t have English as their first language work together as a single unit. Still, the top-3 European lineups have always been able to hold their ground even against the best teams in the world.
Currently, G2 Esports hold the EU LCS title, and fans have dubbed them “The Kings of Europe” for their unprecedented dominance.
The LCK stands for the “League of Legends Champions Korea” and takes place in Seoul. It is widely considered to be the best league in the world—and for good reasons. The level of play here is much higher than in other leagues, and even an average LCK lineup could give the best teams from other regions a run for their money.
Korea has long been proclaimed the mecca of Esports, so it’s not exactly surprising that it has the most dedicated players and the best coaches. This combination of hard work, talent, and strategic prowess turned Korean teams into powerhouses that stand in a league of their own. So if you want to see LoL played at the highest level, you can’t go wrong with the LCK.
The LCK title belongs to SKT T1—the lineup that is acclaimed as the best team in the world. Every member of this team is exceptional, but the fact that they also have the best player of all time—Faker—makes SKT T1 the true final boss of the League of Legends.
While regional leagues are great, they aren’t nearly as exciting as international competitions. League of Legends has several notable tournaments that pit the best teams from all over the world against each other.
Rift Rivals is the newest LoL tournament that takes place in the beginning of July. The competition takes the form of a series of showmatches between regions with longstanding rivalries. For example, Europe will face North America, Korea will battle against China and Taiwan, and so on. Most showmatches will happen in the Bo1 format, so wild games and crazy upsets are a given.
MSI (or Mid-Season Invitational) is a tournament that happens between the Spring and Summer splits of the competitive seasons. MSI’s format is constantly evolving, but the gist of it is that 13 teams (one from each region) are competing for the trophy and a seed to the World Championship. MSI is a clash of playstyles and mentalities, so it’s a perfect opportunity to see how your region matches up against other leagues.
World Championship (or Worlds) is the most prestigious League of Legends tournament that takes place after the Summer split. Top-3 lineups from the largest leagues and the best teams from other competitive regions come to Worlds every year. This a chance for them to prove their worth on the biggest stage of them all, claim a part of the huge prize pool, and the title of the best team in the world.
In the end, there are many competitions that we haven’t covered. Regions like China, Turkey, Japan, Oceania, CIS all have their own leagues, heroes, and storylines. As the most popular esport, LoL offers countless tournaments to follow—and the only thing you need to do is choose.