Potential rising: Riot replaces LCS Academy and Proving Grounds with new NA Challengers League for 2023

Welcome to a whole new road to pro in North America.

For many years, the North American League of Legends scene has stuck with the same path for aspiring pro players to take from getting discovered in solo queue and trying out for amateur teams, all the way to finally making their debut for a major esports organizationwhich has, historically, been a rare occasion until recent years.

With a rise in younger, newer talent cropping up with multiple League teams in the LCS, Riot Games has shaken up the path to pro by replacing both the Academy and Proving Grounds leagues and consolidating them into the NA Challengers League in 2023.

Image via Riot Games

In an official announcement, Riot revealed that the NACL will have the 10 fixed teams from Academy and six provisional teams from the amateur scene make up the league. This new league, like the LCS and LEC, will have a Spring and Summer Split that will both end in double-elimination playoffs. All 10 LCS organizations are guaranteed a spot in the NACL.

The six provisional teams will qualify for the league through a promotion-relegation system, similar to the old Challengers system for the NA LCS. At the end of each split, the bottom four teams from the NACL and the top four teams from open NACL Qualifiers will compete in a promotion tournament to fill the last four NACL spots. The top two teams are safe from relegation, and the 10 fixed teams are not eligible for relegation.

Any teams that are interested in joining the NACL as a provisional team can apply on Riot’s official sign-up sheet. Sign-ups have a pretty short window, though: Riot intends to lock all six provisional teams for the NACL’s first season before the 2022 global free agency period, which is set to begin on Monday, Nov. 21.

Image via Riot Games

There will also be a new system in place to help players continue their career trajectory upward as they battle for recognition in the new league. “All NACL player contracts listed on the GCD will be subject to a Notification of Interest System, allowing LCS organizations to officially state their interest in a player under contract with another organization,” Riot said.

Additionally, there are some important rules that teams must follow if they wish to join the NACL as a provisional team. For example, an NACL player must be a resident of NA and at least 15 years old. Contracts for provisional players are also limited to a maximum of two years, and teams must field a seven-player roster along with a head coach and manager. Lastly, players are eligible to be in the global contract database if they hit the same salary requirements as a fixed team contract.

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