Last month, Riot announced that the NA and EU LCS would be expanding from eight to ten teams, with a one-time Expansion Tournament to be held to determine the final two teams to make it into the 2015 LCS Spring Split for each region.
It can now be revealed that this Expansion Tournament will be taking place from November the 15th to December the 21st 2014, with 13 teams to be drawn from the promotion tournament, Challenger Series playoffs and ranked fives ladder. Furthermore, the offline finals will be taking place in ESL’s studios in Burbank, California for North America (December the 12th to the 14th) and at ESL HQ in Cologne for Europe (December the 18th to the 21st) respectively. With the ladders locking on November the 2nd for North America and November the 9th for Europe, the top teams from each of these regions will secure an LCS spot and have their chance at being crowned the world’s best League of Legends players.
As well as increasing the number of teams, Riot has also decided to decrease the number of regular season games as well as extend the length of time over which the playoffs are played to a full three weeks instead of one to two. This is to increase team matchup diversity and increase the importance of individual games, and will also mean there will be the flexibility to grant all playoff teams immunity from relegation thus increasing the importance of playoffs and rewarding regular season consistency.
Riot said of its decisions:
“While there are many impressive teams which could bolster the strength of the LCS if they made it in, we believe that a spot into the LCS must be earned and not given. We are therefore holding the Expansion Tournament to offer each team the opportunity to seize one of the two spots currently up for grabs in the NA and EU LCS. We are confident that this LCS split will be the most exciting, action-packed one yet.”
The Expansion Tournament will feature 13 teams drawn from the Promotion Tournament, Challenger Series Playoffs, and ranked fives ladder, with teams auto-qualifying from the Promotion and Challenger Series tournaments due to their already having proven themselves to be the closest to being LCS-ready in their region.
Up-and-coming teams will also once again have a chance to secure a spot in the next split, with seven of the thirteen spots in the tournament to be drawn from the ranked fives ladder. The top seven ranked five teams in NA and the top four in EUW and EUNE will be invited to compete in the Expansion Tournament, with there being one more off-broadcast European matched between the four teams from the EUW and EUNE ranked fives ladder for the final European ranked five slot.
According to Riot’s qualification criteria, the six teams who have pre-qualified for the Expansion Tournament in North America are:
- Team Coast
- compLexity Gaming
- Curse Academy
- Denial eSports
- Team LoLPro
- XDG Gaming
Meanwhile, Europe’s six pre-qualifying teams are:
- Gamers 2
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- Reason Gaming
- SK Gaming Prime
Teams who are deemed ineligible to compete or decline their tournament invitation will have their spot offered to the next highest-placed team in the ranked fives ladder without an Expansion Tournament invitation of their own.
Both the North American and European tournaments will have two rounds of online competition followed by an additional three rounds, which will be broadcast live from ESL’s Burbank and Cologne studios respectively.
The first round will consist of a single-elimination bracket, which will pit the ten seeded qualifying teams against one another in best-of-three series, while the pre-qualifying sixth, seventh and eighth place Promotion Tournament teams will all receive a first round bye.
The second round will consist of four single-elimination best-of-threes between the five teams who advanced from round one and the sixth, seventh and eighth place teams from the Promotion Tournament, with the four teams that advance here travelling to the ESL studios to play live in a modified double-elimination bracket spanning a further three rounds.
The final three rounds will consist of a modified four team double-elimination bracket, those teams that triumph in the semifinals and losers finals each directly earning a spot in the new ten-team LCS.
The Expansion Tournament will run from the 15th of November to the 21st of December 2014, with matches to be broadcast live from ESL’s Burbank-based studios for North American and in Cologne for the European expansion games.
The full schedule is as follows:
- November 15th to 16th: NA Expansion (Round 1)
- November 22nd to 23rd: NA Expansion (Round 2), EU Expansion (Round 1)
- November 29th to 30th: EU Expansion (Round 2)
- December 12th to 14th: NA Live Expansion
- December 18th to 21st: EU Live Expansion
For more information about the Expansion Tournament, please check out Riot’s official Expansion Tournament post.
The Expansion Tournament kicks off on the 15th of November, so be sure to tune in at lolesports.com to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action!