The 2021 League of Legends Championship Series is still quite a ways from beginning, but ahead of the competitive circuit, Riot Games has unveiled a myriad of changes to the format for domestic League of Legends competition in North America.
These changes come a month after Riot Games hinted at significant format changes for the LCS shortly after the 2020 League of Legends World Championship. For the last two seasons, not a single LCS team has succeeded in qualifying for the knockout stage.
The 2021 LCS will begin with a three-week tournament called the LCS Lock-In. The tournament will consist of the 10 LCS teams seeded into two groups. 2020 LCS Summer champion TSM will select its four competitors in Group A, and runner-up FlyQuest will be seeded into Group B with the four remaining teams following TSM's selection. Each group will play a single round robin, with the top four teams from each group in the four-day competition advancing to the knockout stage.
The champion of the knockout stage will be crowned 2021 LCS Lock-In champion on January 31, 2021 and will be awarded a $150,000 prize in addition to a $50,000 donation to the charity of the winner's choice.
The 2021 LCS Spring Split retains the double round-robin format present in previous spring iterations of the competition, but 5 games willl take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday to shorten the 9-week format to six weeks. The 2021 LCS Spring Playoffs will instead be called the Mid-Season Showdown, which will feature the top six teams in the 2021 LCS Spring Split in a double-elimination playoffs bracket with the bottom two teams beginning in the losers' bracket.
The 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown will conclude with its finals on April 11, 2021, and the winner will be crowned the champion of North America and will represent the region at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
The 2021 LCS Summer Split will begin with all ten teams with their records from spring competing in a triple round robin of best-of-one format. By August 1st, all 10 teams will have played 45 LCS matches throughout the year and their records will be utilized to decide the seeding of the top 8 teams qualifying for the 2021 LCS Summer Playoffs. The Summer Playoffs will retain the 8-team, double-elimination format introduced in the 2020 LCS Summer Playoffs.
The teams who place within the top 3 of the 2021 LCS Summer Playoffs will qualify for Worlds 2021, but Riot Games has increased the importance of the Spring Split with teams coming into summer carrying their spring records with them, respectively. Content creator Travis Gafford confirmed he would have Golden Guardians' Head of Esports Hunter Leigh and LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley on his weekly show, Hotline League, to discuss the changes to the LCS ahead of the 2021 season.
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