Who got the longer and the shorter end of the stick?
League of Legends international esports events will receive major format changes in 2023, with Riot Games shedding some light on how the World Championship and the Mid-Season Invitational will be revamped.
The Mid-Season Invitational will have more teams from the major regions and it will introduce a double-elimination bracket in its second stage. The decision was made to have more cross-regional competition and higher-stake matches.
Worlds, on the other hand, will have a Swiss stage replacing the group stage at the main event, featuring best-of-one and best-of-three matches. Not only that, but a new stage, called “Worlds Qualifying Series,” will choose which western fourth seed (LCS or LEC) will have the chance to participate in Worlds 2023.
With this in mind, here are the winners and losers of Worlds and MSI format changes.
With the most recent restructuring, these minor regions will no longer have their own reserved spot at international events. The Oceanic region will have to play through the PCS Playoffs to hope to have a chance at qualifying. That said, the competition is going to be much stronger, with the risk of killing all chances of seeing LCO teams at international events.
Turkey’s TCL, on the other hand, has been moved into the European regional league system and teams will no longer have a way to enter Worlds or MSI.
For the CIS, instead, the situation is still uncertain. According to the Russian League expert Glaeweth, there are chances that the CIS either gets a similar treatment to the LCO, a merger with the TCL, or the league will become an ERL and will feed into the EU Masters ecosystem. Regardless, CIS won’t have its own spot at international events.
While Riot definitely increased the palatability of the matches in the stages prior to the main event, the new MSI format risks killing the chances of minor regions qualifying for the new bracket stage.
With two teams each coming from the four major regions, the level of play is set to become even more competitive. For the smaller regions, this can become a problem if their own top teams are not able to match at least the second seeds from China, Europe, and North America.
Essentially, the new MSI format, and in particular, the play-ins stage, can become a double-edged sword: it will surely increase the hype and the interest for specific matches, but it also risks becoming a fight only between the top four regions in the bracket stage.
Despite only having one western team in the top eight at Worlds, both the LEC and the LCS teams will have more chances to show their worth at the international events this year.Image via Riot Games
The new Mid-Season Invitational format will allow both regions to field two teams instead of one, and one of the two regions will have the chance to send four teams (instead of the usual three) to Worlds. Let’s hope that with these changes and more chances to play against the best teams in the world, the western regions can close the gap between Korea and China.
Riot introduced more best-of matches at international events, with the main goal of making some stages “less dependent on a draw or a small number of potential opponents,” according to the post on LoL Esports.
This, in turn, will benefit teams who can showcase their level of play across multiple games, rather than just one single match. It should remove some of the “coinflip” element that can happen during single games, and reward the teams who perform better on a consistent basis.
Fans are undoubtedly the biggest winners of the new format changes to Worlds and MSI. This goes not only for western fans but all League enthusiasts worldwide. Riot listened to the community and brought a double-elimination bracket at international events, something fans have been asking for a long time.
The new play-in format at MSI will guarantee more cross-regional battles and exciting best-of-series, making the stages prior to the main event more appealing for esports fans.
For western fans, in particular, the “Worlds Qualifying Series” will allow the LEC and LCS’ fourth seeds to prove who really deserves to go to the World Championship, generating more hype and interest ahead of the biggest tournament of the year.Image via Riot Games
While the new Swiss-style stage will have a similar amount of total games played to the previous format, it will ensure more competitive games and higher stakes for all the teams, making each game and series worth watching.
“Delivering excitement to fans while creating a fair and balanced competitive environment for players and teams” was Riot’s No. 1 priority. It looks like it nailed it.