Riot announces big format changes to Amateur and Academy going into 2021


The following was provided to Inven Global as a press release.


Every offseason at the LCS, we take a step back to evaluate the previous year and find ways to keep leveling up our region and our league. Below are the first actions we’re taking, and they won’t be our last. Over the long term, we’ll continue listening to the community’s feedback and adapting, so we can continue leveling up for years to come.



● In 2021, we're creating a new tournament ecosystem where amateur and Academy teams will compete against each other. Instead of Academy Playoffs and Finals, Academy teams and amateur teams will compete for the same goal: to rise up the new tournament ladder and compete in the final tournament, LCS Proving Grounds, where 16 teams will compete to be NA’s best outside the LCS.

● To make it into LCS Proving Grounds, amateur teams will start at Tier 2 tournaments, where they'll compete to earn enough points to qualify into the next tier of tournaments (Tier 1). From there, they'll compete against other qualifying teams to earn a spot in LCS Proving Grounds.

● Instead of starting their ladder by playing in Tier 2 tournaments, LCS Academy teams will place into either Tier 1 tournaments or directly into LCS Proving Grounds. Their placements will be determined by their standings after the regular Academy season.

● All parties may participate in this new ecosystem, including LCS teams, third-party TOs, brand sponsors, and amateur teams unaffiliated with an LCS organization.

● This new tournament system will be in addition to community-run amateur tournaments, which will continue to operate in accordance with the community tournament guidelines (without direct integration into the Riot competitive ecosystem).


We’re introducing a new amateur tournament system to complement each Academy split.


Tier 2 tournaments are organized by third parties outside of Riot and the LCS franchise teams through an application process (click here to apply). Amateur and Academy teams may compete in Tier 2 tournaments by applying to the tournament organizers. There will be multiple Tier 2 tournaments per split, with the number of competing teams to be determined by organizers in collaboration with Riot. Riot will also collaborate with tournament organizers to curate the teams competing in each tournament.


Teams will accumulate points across all Tier 2 tournaments, and upwards of ten teams with the
most points will qualify into Tier 1 tournaments.


Tier 1 tournaments are organized by teams, sponsors, or third-party TOs licensed by Riot, also through an application process (click here). There will be three Tier 1 tournaments per Academy
split, giving teams three chances to qualify into the final tournament, LCS Proving Grounds.


Twelve teams compete in the first two tournaments, and the top four from each will move on to LCS Proving Grounds. There will be a third and final Tier 1 tournament (the “Last Chance Qualifier”), where eight teams compete for the last two spots in LCS Proving Grounds.


Finally, the Riot-organized LCS Proving Grounds will cap off each Academy split. Each LCS Proving Grounds tournament will bring together 6 LCS Academy teams that qualified through regular-season standings, and an additional 10 teams that qualify through the Tier 1 tournaments, in a battle to be the best NA roster outside of the LCS.


This tournament system is in addition to tournaments that currently operate under the community tournament guidelines (which will now be referred to as “Tier 3 tournaments”). These tournaments are stand-alone, independently run tournaments for amateur players in NA. See here for Riot’s latest community guidelines on operating these tournaments. Apart from a visual update, these guidelines have not changed.



The 2021 LCS Academy seasons will be adapted to enable teams’ participation in this new tournament system.


Each Academy season will have 10 games per week for 4 weeks (5 games for the fifth week), in a Single Round Robin, Best-of-1 format. There will be no Academy Playoffs or Finals. Instead, Academy teams will qualify directly into Tier 1 and LCS Proving Grounds depending on their regular season performance:

● The top six teams qualify into LCS Proving Grounds

● The seventh- and eighth-placed teams qualify into the first Tier 1 tournament

● The ninth- and tenth-placed teams qualify into the second Tier 1 tournament


Academy teams may participate in Tier 2 tournaments outside of the regular Academy seasons -- but they cannot qualify into Tier 1 tournaments through Tier 2, and there will be a cap of five Academy teams allowed to participate in each Tier 2 tournament.


There will be new ways for LCS teams to support the growth of amateur players.


There will be opportunities for LCS teams to own/sponsor/associate with amateur teams competing in Tier 1 or Tier 2 tournaments. Amateur team rosters will be limited to five players, and LCS teams will be limited to owning/associating with one amateur team that competes in Tier 1 or Tier 2 tournaments.


LCS teams may begin signing amateur players to their LCS/Academy rosters, including players from their own amateur rosters, with the start of LCS Free Agency.

We've established an LCS Proving Grounds/Amateur ruleset and development fees to protect players and support the growth of the ecosystem.

All LCS teams and participants must abide by standardized player mobility rules and behavior
checks. On top of those, we've put in place regulations including:

● A minimum age requirement for all player signings (15)

● Player protection and parental consent rules for signing players below 18

● Only players considered NA residents (from US, Canada or OCE) may compete as part of amateur teams that compete in Tier 2 and Tier 1

● Amateur team contracts may not be longer than one year, and may be amended (but not renewed or extended). Amateur team contracts must end before free agency to allow amateur players an opportunity to test the market and potentially find a spot with an Academy or LCS team

● Poaching protections consistent with LCS rules

● Teams may negotiate trades and buy-outs during the season, but amateur teams will not be required to transfer any player to an LCS/Academy org

● LCS/Academy Teams that circumvent the spirit of these rules will be subject to fines, required to release the player from their contract, and will be restricted from registering that player for a full competitive year


We’ve also put in place a system that will be used to compensate amateur teams for developing talent signed at the Academy and LCS levels. This will help ensure the ecosystem provides proper incentives for scouting talent and for the work that goes into making a player ready to make the jump to professional play.


Look out for more updates at the start of the 2021 season, including where to catch all the amateur and Academy action.



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