The highly anticipated 2018 League of Legends Champion Series (LCS) has officially begun in both North America and Europe. This is League of Legends’ eighth competitive season and sixth season of the LCS, but despite this long history there is a different air about this year.
While the European league will look almost identical to its 2017 predecessor, things will be very different in North America. Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends, has finally introduced franchising into the North American equation drastically altering the landscape. This means that for the first time ever, spots in the LCS are permanent, leaving no threat of relegation.
While team owners have long been stressing that this was a necessary step in order to secure additional sponsors and funding, many fans are skeptical it removes incentives to perform and could lead to teams not trying and boring matches. While fans raise valid potential concerns, the current rules are necessary to attract the type of investments and owners necessary to grow the western scene. The announcement that the Overwatch League would be running on a similar model further increased the pressure on Riot to move in this direction.
With the slots being permanent and only 10 being available the selection process was heavily selective by Riot, and heavily scrutinized by fans. While the franchising model was successful in attracting ownership groups like the Lacob family who also own the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, endemic esports organizations such as Immortals didn’t make the cut. While this initially caused some controversy the presence of endemic organizations like TSM, CLG, Team Liquid and Cloud9 give long time fans more than enough familiar names to rally behind.
If the opening week week is any indication of the season that lies ahead, both regions of the LCS are in good hands.
Europe kicked things off with a highly competitive and unpredictable set of matches. When the dust settled only Team Vitality, previously the roster competing under Gambit Gaming, was able to emerge undefeated as they took down both H2K Gaming and Giants. Unicorns of Love unfortunately had the opposite start going 0-2 on the week after beat beat decisively by Giants and dropping a heartbreaking 68 minute match to Splyce during the second day of competition.
The North American LCS began with the most highly anticipated matchup from either region as TSM did battle with their former ADC, Yiliang ‘Peter’ “Doublelift” Peng, and his new Team Liquid roster. After removing him from the roster in a controversial manner during the off-season, it was certain to be a grudge match and was the game nobody wanted to miss. Things couldn’t have gone better for Doublelift and his new teammates, breezing to an easy victory in just under 30 minutes.
TSM looked better in their second match against FlyQuest, but ultimately lost a close 50 minute game to finish the week 0-2. They were one of four teams unable to find a victory in the opening week alongside CLG, OpTic Gaming and the Golden Guardians.
had nearly half the teams emerge the first week of competition without a loss.
Team Liquid on the other hand was able to continue their success and defeat OpTic Gaming, exiting the first week of play with a perfect 2-0 record. 100 Thieves, Cloud9 and Echo Fox all emerged undefeated as well making the standings as spread out as they possibly can be after only a single week of play.
Week 2 begins in Europe Friday January 26th at 12PM EST/ 9AM PST. North American action resumes at 5PM EST/ 2PM PST the following day on Saturday January 27th. You can watch the broadcast live on Riot’s official Twitch Channel.