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There are big changes afoot in League of Legends—we're not talking about Riot's stance on communication—but rather the pro scene, which is undergoing some huge changes in preparation for the 2017 League of Legends Championship Series (LCS).

Last season Riot divided the EU LCS and NA LCS with different formats and the gap between these similarly named leagues is only set to expand further in 2017, with rumors of franchising on the horizon.

'League of Legends': Breaking Down The 2017 Changes To The EU And NA LCS

Fans eagerly cheer on their favorite teams  - [Riot Games]
Fans eagerly cheer on their favorite teams - [Riot Games]

We're giving you a rundown of everything to expect from the 2017 LCS; when the league starts, how the format's changed and small tweaks that benefit teams behind the scenes.

Since both leagues are run separately, there can be a lot of differences even if we blanket them under the term and have put sections under subheadings.

Championship Series 2017: Universal Changes

Lots of tune ups to the overall health of the pro League scene - [Riot Games]
Lots of tune ups to the overall health of the pro League scene - [Riot Games]

Both the North American and European LCS are benefitting from tune-ups to improve the overall health of the League.

  • The prize pool has been increased to $200,000 a split
  • Head coaches are now under the same poaching protection as pro players
  • Ruleset violations can now be contested through an independent adjudicator.
  • New digital goods guarantee $50,000 additional revenue per split for teams—and more stuff for us to buy.
  • Inactive roster to allow handling of imported players who are ineligible to play for a period of time

To surmise, teams should have additional revenue streams, talent is better protected and foreign player imports should be easier to manage, all good!

Ex-NBA player Rick Fox with his League of Legends team - [Riot Games]
Ex-NBA player Rick Fox with his League of Legends team - [Riot Games]

One interesting point is that competitive rulings—often riots way for punishing misconduct—can now be appealed, resolving situations like the alleged mismanagement of Renegades, which resulted in the owner being forced to sell his stake in the league.

Championship Series 2017: EU LCS Format Changes

The EU LCS is hosted in Berlin and the finals rotate around Europe - [Riot Games]
The EU LCS is hosted in Berlin and the finals rotate around Europe - [Riot Games]

Europe adopted a radical format for 2016's Summer Split, a best of two dual-stream set-up meant more matches, but no clear winner from the longer series, which became a point of contention for fans.

Perhaps that's why we're seeing another stark shift in 2017: Europe will adopt the best of three format, but return to a single stream set-up. To handle the increased workload, there will be more game days—instead of watching one stream and catching up on the other, you'll be able to enjoy all the action over the course of three days (and occasionally Sundays).

For the first time the EU LCS will regularly be held partly over the weekend - [Riot Games]
For the first time the EU LCS will regularly be held partly over the weekend - [Riot Games]

To prevent there being a barrage of additional matches—best of threes result in unpredictable schedules—Europe needed a way to handle the increased number of games.

The ten EU LCS teams will split into two groups, decided by a draft where the two most successful teams are placed at the head of each group and choose a team to be placed into the opposite—essentially the reverse of the way you created groups in school.

The group draft is a new format for the EU LCS in 2017 - [Riot Games]
The group draft is a new format for the EU LCS in 2017 - [Riot Games]

Each team placed selects a team for the opposing group until all ten have been sorted. Since G2 Esports and H2K ended 2016 with the highest number of championship points, they will be the head of each group during the EU LCS Spring Split. Expect the full groups to be revealed in the next couple of weeks.

During the season, each team will play a Round Robin within their group, a Round Robin with the opposing group and finally a second Round Robin within their group.

Teams are incentivized to try and top their group with a bye into the semi-finals - [Riot Games]
Teams are incentivized to try and top their group with a bye into the semi-finals - [Riot Games]

Seedings are based on performance throughout the split and the top three teams in each group go through to the playoffs. The bottom team in each group will have to compete in the Promotion/Relegation tournament to maintain their spot in the league.

Championship Series 2017: NA LCS Changes

There are no specific changes to the NA LCS format - [Riot Games]
There are no specific changes to the NA LCS format - [Riot Games]

Conversely North America must be pretty happy with the changes they implemented to their broadcasting schedule last split and will continue this into 2017, running a dual-stream best of three format that starts on Friday and continues into the weekend.

Championship Series 2017: 10 Ban Format (Universal Change)

League of Legends started with 40 champions and you could ban six in competitive games—meaning at the time you banned 15% of the champions available. With the release of Camille, the total number of champions has ballooned to 134 and we're still using the six ban system.

Well no more, professional teams will now have two more bans during champion select. These work differently to traditional bans, since they occur after each team has picked three champions, allowing you to try and counter the strategies on display—we've examined how this works in detail and what it means for the future of the pro scene.

LCS Promotion/Relegation Tournament Changes

Origen moved into the LCS off a standout performance in the challenger series - [Riot Games]
Origen moved into the LCS off a standout performance in the challenger series - [Riot Games]

Some of the most prolific changes are occurring within the challenger scene, an entry point for teams looking to enter the LCS. Existing team owners who invest in challenger scene will no longer qualify for the promotion tournament; in a move designed to prevent existing LCS teams from using high calibre players to sell slots in the LCS, since a team cannot have two rosters in the LCS the challenger team must be sold—Cloud 9's challenger team was recently sold for $2.5million.

There have also been changes to the structure of the Promotion/Relegation tournament; 8th place teams are no longer involved and the 9th/10th place LCS teams play against the 1st/2nd place challenger teams in a double elimination Bo5—meaning win twice you're in, lose twice and you're out.

The Promotion / Relegation tournament has also seen a change - [Riot Games]
The Promotion / Relegation tournament has also seen a change - [Riot Games]

When Does The 2017 LCS Start?

If you're ready to jump on in and join the action, the EU LCS kicks off on Thursday 19th January and the NA LCS begins on Friday 20th January.

Are you excited for the League of Legends 2017 LCS?

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Which is better EU or NA LCS?

(Sources: NA LCS, ESPN, 10 Bans, EU LCS)

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