Why other LoL esports regions should consider adopting the LEC’s new season format

One season in, a whole gamut of improvement.

It’s only been a few weeks since the start of the 2023 LEC Winter Split, but League of Legends fans from around the world are already raving about the league’s new format for the year.

The LEC has debuted a new formula at the highest competitive level, starting with a three-season setup instead of the traditional two, while introducing a group stage and subsequent playoff stage to the mix. Excitement has been elevated to new heights and the league has seen plenty of positive sentiments from its supporters throughout the course of the split so far.

Other leagues, like North America’s own LCS, have maintained the same seasonal arrangement for years. Even though the LCS is broadcasting on different days, the season still holds the same weight when it comes to what games are important and when fans should tune in.

There is comfort with familiarity, but after a decade of professional play, a new look might be exactly the spice that some of these other leagues need to spark a new flame within their teams and fan bases.

Photo by Michal Konkol via Riot Games

In past seasons, some teams have needed an extended amount of time to ramp up performances, especially when featuring a roster with rookies adjusting to a new environment or stars taking time to gel with their new teammates.

Eight weeks in a regular season gives players some leeway at the beginning of the split since they can take their time to deal with the problems they might be facing in terms of their teammates, strategies, mechanics, and game sense.

This new LEC format has, however, shifted the league to become much more cutthroat with much less room for error. Teams no longer have the luxury of taking their time and instead must come into the season at 100 percent power. If they aren’t up to the task by week one, they can easily fall behind and miss the next round of the postseason entirely.

As a result, every single week is must-watch League, and every game is important. A loss in week one can be the decider between a group stage berth and a quick vacation from Summoner’s Rift. Complacency is punished heavily and teams must adapt to the ever-shifting meta while they still can before it’s too late. For fans, this injects a ton of excitement into the regular season. But for players, it lights a fire underneath them that forces them to improve or be left behind.

Photo by Michal Konkol via Riot Games

While some players might be left burnt by this rapid change of pace, others quickly forge themselves into diamonds that shine even brighter when under pressure. Players like SK Gaming’s Thomas “Exakick” Foucou, for example, might not have become an overnight sensation if he was given eight weeks to dip his toes into the LEC waters.

Related: One rising LEC star leads league in kills through 2023 Winter regular season

Instead, he was thrown directly into the deep end with three weeks to show his true skills, and he not only managed to float but broke into a speedy freestyle toward the group stage. As he began to blossom, SK had to keep up with his growth and learned how to coordinate their overall style of play with his. By giving him a ton of resources, Exakick can dive right into the mid-to-late game with plenty of items and strength at his disposal.

Combined with some good performances from his teammates, SK finished the Winter Split as the third-best team in the LEC for the first time in the organization’s history. The growing pressure of elimination is enough for a team to either find that next level or crumble under the hefty burden of expectations.

Photo by Michal Konkol via Riot Games

With more exciting best-of-three and best-of-five action ahead, the LEC is approaching a new era that could birth more superstars, upset victories, new dynasties, and storylines from within. Other leagues that have fallen into the same monotonous past could do well by looking at the success that Europe has built with its new take on its competitive scene.

You can catch the 2023 LEC Winter Split group stage when the matches continue on Saturday, Feb. 11.

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