LCS: Structure, Format, Odds and Live Streaming

NA LCS logo

The LCS (or League of Legends Championship Series) is a major LoL esports competition in North America. It was founded by Riot Games in 2013 to serve as the battlegrounds for the strongest teams in the region. The LCS is regarded as one of the most famous and financially secure competitions in professional League of Legends, and its participants often recruit star players from other regions.

LCS Live Stream

LCS Odds

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LCS Regular Season

Each LCS season is divided into Spring Split and Summer Splits. During this time, 10 teams battle each other over the course of 9 weeks of the regular season. The competition follows the Double Round Robin format where every team plays two best-of-ones (single-game matches) against every opponent.

LCS Playoffs

Once the regular season ends, the top six teams advance to the playoffs. All playoffs matches are conducted in a best-of-five format, meaning that the first team to win three games qualifies for the next round of the competition. The reason behind this is that Bo5s are much better at highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the participating teams, so each lineup has to go an extra mile to take the W. On top of that, LoL esports fans get the undisputable benefit of watching more quality League of Legends.

The first- and second-place regular-season teams secure byes to the Semifinals. Meanwhile, the other four have to play each other in the Quarterfinals for the right to challenge them. All playoffs contenders gain Championship Points that go towards qualifying for the World Championship. The first-place team gets the most points, and the fifth/sixth-place teams get the least.

The Spring Split winner also takes part in the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), a large international competition that occurs between the splits. The Summer Split winner and two LCS teams with the most Championship Points are invited to participate in the most prestigious tournament in the scene, the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds). With that, it’s not exactly surprising that most lineups treat spring as a warmup, so the competition reaches its peak in summer.

LCS Champions: TSM, CLG, Cloud9, and Team Liquid

Having won the majority of the LCS splits, TSM are the most accomplished team in the region. And considering how popular the league is across the globe, this makes TSM one of the most recognizable esports organizations in the world. In the old days, TSM’s only rivals were Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and Cloud9 (C9), as both of them had two LCS titles to their names. However, Team Liquid have also made a solid claim to the LCS throne by winning three LCS trophies in a row.

LCS at Worlds and MSI

The LCS teams don’t enjoy a lot of success at international tournaments. Even though TSM usually qualify for the World Championship, they struggle to make it past the group stage. Other North American lineups suffer from similar issues. The only exception is Cloud9 who have repeatedly reached the Worlds Quarterfinals.

The Mid-Season Invitational tells a different story. At the 2016 MSI, CLG have gone all the way to the finals where they faced the Korean powerhouse SKT T1. And even though they couldn’t clinch the win, this result makes Counter Logic Gaming one of the best-performing LCS teams internationally. Their run was repeated by Team Liquid in 2019. Back then, the LCS champions took down the tournament favorites in Invictus Gaming, and while they fell in the finals against G2 Esports, they still proved that North America can be a force to be reckoned with.

Why watch the LCS?

The biggest reason to follow the LCS is name value. The league is home to some of the best competitors from Europe, North America, and South Korea, and you can frequently see legends like Bjergsen, Doublelift, and Ssumday clashing against each other. This also makes the LCS one of the most entertaining competitions in the scene, as it constantly presents its fans with countless storylines.

As for the level of play, the LCS is often stuck in a self-contained meta game. North American teams prioritize teamwork and synergy above all else, meaning they invest a lot of resources into infrastructure and supporting staff. The introduction of franchising also attracted major investors, further raising the bar of the North American League of Legends, but it still remains to be seen whether this will be enough to bring the LCS its first international victory.