Major structural changes are coming for one of the largest official League of Legends tournaments. Riot Games has announced that The North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) will change its format for the 2021 season.
LCS Lock In
The earliest change to the 2021 LCS format is the introduction of a new three-week tournament at the beginning of the year. The LCS Lock In kicks off on the 15th of January. It will start with a group stage in which the top two teams from the past LCS season will be allowed to draft their opponents. This means that TSM and Flyquest, the top two teams from this year will decide the remaining teams taking part in the LCS Lock In.
Each group playing in the LCS Lock In takes part in a four-day Round Robin event with the top four of each group then being seeded into an eight-team single elimination style bracket. The winner of this event will be crowned Lock In Champion and will receive a $150,000 prize along with $50,000 towards a charity of their choice. They will also receive a side selection for Game 5 of the regular season only if the head-to-head is tied.
Regular Season Structure
As always, the LCS regular season will be split between Spring and Summer. The Spring Split will be shorter than usual. It will take the shape of a double Round Robin the lasts six weeks rather than the usual nine. This will not change the total number of games played. The Spring Split will still see each team play a total of 15 games per week spread evenly across Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Their official announcement states:
“The new Spring Split will be expanded into five games a day, across three days: Friday Night League at 3pm PT; Saturday and Sunday at 1pm PT.”
The Spring Playoffs have been renamed and will now be called the Mid-Season Showdown (MSS). The MSS will take the top six teams from Spring Split. They will face off in an almost identical competition to the 2020 Spring Playoffs, a double-elimination bracket with fifth and sixth seeds starting in the lower bracket. The biggest change besides the name is that the first seed must play the fourth seed; side selection always goes to the team that most recently dropped from the upper bracket, and ties are broken by seeding. The winner of the MSS will become an LCS Champion and represent NA at 2021’s first global competition, the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI).
The Summer Split will be a triple Round Robin that lasts for nine weeks. According to the announcement from Riot, the Summer Split “will determine who deserves a shot at the year’s second LCS championship title and who will represent NA at the World Championship.”
The LCS Championship
This is the end of the North American regional tournament. It combines the team’s Spring and Summer records in order to seed them for the Championship. As usual, it is a double elimination tournament, with some minor format tweaks for the 2021 season.
According to the announcement:
“These adjustments include: an inverted format ensuring teams that meet again will do so later in the tournament; side selection always goes to the team that drops from the upper bracket; and game days have shifted to prevent most teams from playing twice in one week.”
These are some of the biggest changes to the tournament structure that Riot Games have ever made. It will be interesting to see how teams adjust to the new Mid-Season Showdown seeding and especially the combined records of Spring and Summer affecting the LCS Championship.