Riot Games has spoken about the possibility of increasing the number of teams in the LEC, removing bottom-tier sides and adopting a best-of-three (Bo3) format.
LEC Commissioner Maximilian ‘Riot Max the X’ Schmidt recently took to Discord to answer fans’ questions.
On the idea that the LEC may expand from 10 to 12 franchised teams in the future, Maximilian said: “This is something that we are constantly evaluating with our teams and partners, and many factors need to be considered when thinking about expansion – to name a few: scheduling, competition format, financials and economics, and even the amount of players, talent, and staff we have in our ecosystem to support new teams are crucial to be considered.”
He also said in another answer “when we eventually expand the LEC”, not ‘if’, suggesting this is a possibility Riot is seriously considering.
The LEC was first announced in late 2018, with the former EU LCS adopting a franchise format and allowing teams to buy in and apply to join the LEC for the first time.
It was reported at the time by Jacob Wolf that existing teams in the LCS could buy a slot for €8m, and outside teams coming in could purchase a slot for €10.5m.
Last year, Team BDS acquired Schalke 04’s LEC slot for €26.5m, showing just how much the slots have gone up in value in a few years, giving Riot an opportunity to generate more revenues and shake things up.
Some orgs like Koi from the Spanish Superliga and Karmine Corp from the French LFL have been touted as possible sides that could fit into the LEC due to their passionate fanbases, and X7 in the UK/Ireland/Nordics have said they want to reach the LEC.
On the LEC possibly moving from a best-of-one to a best-of-two or three format, Maximilian added: “Best-of-threes and best-of-twos are not always great viewership experiences – Bo3s in particular are difficult to schedule and mean you are asking for a high time commitment of your viewers to watch five Bo3 matches in any given week.
“That isn’t to say that it will remain like this forever. When we eventually expand the LEC, it at some point will not be feasible to schedule all teams for a single day, and then the advantages of a Bo1 system become less relevant. As always, we will continue to review formats as the LEC grows and evolves and will continue to survey our viewers to make sure we are delivering the best possible LEC experience to all of them.”
Then finally, the question of bottom-tier or poorly performing LEC teams being booted out by Riot. This is something Esports News UK has heard of in the past in rumours and conversations with people in the LoL esports scene.
Maximilian said: “Whether or not a team makes the playoffs is not the primary factor we take into account when assessing our partnership with teams. We value a multitude of criteria when it comes to our long-term partnerships, including brand value, business expertise, creative ideas and other input they have into pushing the LEC product forwards.
“A concrete example of this would be FC Schalke 04 Esports – while they weren’t always the most competitive team in the league, they brought a lot of non-endemic knowledge to the table from the traditional sports world which was incredibly valuable to the LEC overall.”
So, Riot is assessing its options, and it’s at least good to hear European Regional League (ERL) teams may have the chance to progress to the LEC in the future.
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Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.