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Scott Kostov | 5. August 2022

LEC playoff format implications on Worlds seeding

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on all aspects of society, including esports and Riot Games’ international events. We just recently saw a live crowd at a VCT event for the first time, but things still don’t seem to be getting back to the old ways. This time around, it’s the conflict in Ukraine that’s forcing Riot to adjust.

LEC receives fourth Worlds seed, LCL suspended

In case you missed it, Riot announced that the LEC would receive four seeds to the League of Legends World Championship a few weeks ago. This decision comes as a result of the suspension of all Russian-based teams from participating in international competitions as a sanction for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That means that a fourth LEC team will go to Worlds instead of the LCL first seed.

The LCL Spring split got terminated in February after just four matches, while the Summer split hasn’t even begun. The Worlds spot is granted to the region with the third-best international performance over the last two years. In this case, it’s LEC, which will send two teams into the group stage and two teams into the Play-In stage. The LPL and the LCK, which are the two best-performing regions, will send three teams into the group stage and one team into the Play-In stage

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LEC competition. Credit: Riot Games

LEC playoff format and championship points

The LEC playoff format has long been a known issue. Because there are only six instead of eight teams in the playoffs, the lower bracket is structured differently. This makes it so that the number one seed going into the playoffs can go 0-6 and still qualify for Worlds as the fourth seed.

Another issue tied to this is the fact that the LEC playoff seeding in the Summer split is impacted by the championship points calculated through the Spring results and the regular Summer split. The Worlds seeding should be affected by championship points after the Summer Playoffs are done, not the Summer playoffs seeding.

Currently going into the Week 7 of the LEC Summer Split, this is how the standings look:

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Credit: Fandom/ LoL Wiki

Europe’s Worlds representatives

Considering championship points, if the split ended today, Rogue would be the first seed going into the playoffs. This means that they would automatically advance to the group stage at Worlds as a reward for second-place finishes in both splits. Currently, they are tied for the second spot with Vitality, but even if they finish third, they still get the first spot.

It’s not hard to realize why this is wrong on so many levels. MAD Lions and Vitality have both made roster changes and by their recent showings, they might be the best teams in Europe, but they might not go to Worlds. G2 Esports can lose every game in the playoffs and still make it to Worlds. Fnatic and Vitality can win every game for the rest of the split and face off in the Finals and one of them would not go to Worlds. Rewarding good play in the regular split is always welcomed but in the case of Rogue, they probably should have a harder road to the number one seed than the 18 best-of-one series. 

The full seeding would be as follows: 1. RGE, 2. G2, 3. MAD, 4. VIT, 5. XL, 6. MSF

Possible solutions

One of the best and easiest ways to fix this is to implement the LCS Playoff format. When World’s qualification is at stake, an eight-team format naturally seems more fitting, since it offers the most competitive environment and guarantees that the best teams get to represent the region. In it, the top two seeds must win at least one best-of-five series, the next four teams must win two best-of-fives and the last two teams must win three best-of-fives. By making the fifth and sixth seed not play each other, no team is guaranteed a Worlds spot and every team must win at least one series to advance to Worlds. It seems only right that if we have the opportunity to send more representatives, more teams get a fair chance. 

Header: Riot Games