How to Save the EU LCS
The European LoL scene is in its most questionable state to date. What can Riot Games do to salvage the situation?
With the recent announcement of four European organizations considering a move to North America, it’s clear that things aren’t going great in the EU LCS. Countless suggestions have surfaced on the League of Legends subreddit on how to improve the region: from merging the EU and NA into a single Western league to making Europe an open circuit like in CS:GO or DotA2.
And while we’ve already speculated how Europe might be moving in the wrong direction, it’s time to see what can be done to make it right.
Get Rid of Groups
We know it’s not exactly a groundbreaking sentiment, but it has to be said nonetheless. The group format just isn’t working.
Things would be better if bottom-tier lineups were a bit more competitive, but since they aren’t, we’re stuck in a situation where some EU LCS teams are effectively free wins for other members in their group.
Of course, it’d be hard to make a match between the 10th and the 1st teams exciting in any format. But the current system doesn’t even work that well to distinguish the worst teams in the league. For example—barring an unprecedented miracle—Ninjas in Pyjamas and Mysterious Monkeys were already locked into the relegation right from the very start.
Yet we’d argue there’s not that huge of a difference between Mysterious Monkeys and the current form of Team ROCCAT. But since the two only play each other once (the Monkeys won, by the way) and Team ROCCAT has the benefit of having NiP in its group, it’s automatically saved from relegation. A similar situation happened last split with Team Vitality and Giants Gaming. Bad teams are allowed to get away with murder just because there’s someone even worse in their group, so it’s not exactly surprising that there are so many bottom feeders in the EU LCS.
Introduce Revenue Sharing
Again, not the freshest idea, but something has to be done about value propositions in EU and NA. If you’re a European player that’s good enough to get offers from North America, there’s no real reason not to go ahead and move. You’ll get a better salary, more exposure, increased job security, and a slice of the LCS pie on top of that. Meanwhile, Europe’s offer is akin to the sound of chirping crickets.
If we were to believe /u/riotsnowbird’s comments, then Riot Games are planning to introduce changes in this direction. But since the topic has been in the talks for several months and established European orgs like G2 Esports and Fnatic still have applied for the NA LCS franchising, we’d guess these changes fall into the ‘too little, too late’ category.
“Borrow” LCK’s Format
One problem the EU LCS has been running into is ‘dead games’. Towards the second half of the split, too many matches hold little to no impact on the actual standings. We already know who’s going to end up in relegation, who’s going to make it into the playoffs, and who’s going to hang around for another split.
Meanwhile, a single glance at the state of Week 9 of the LCK would leave you amazed with how many things are still yet undecided.
Not only are most teams still battling, either to avoid relegation or secure their playoffs spot, but even the difference between finishing 1st and 2nd is immense. After all, the winner of the split gets a bye all the way to the finals.
You could counter this argument by saying that the LCK is a much more competitive league, and we’d be inclined to agree. But in the end, there’s no perfect format, and you have to go with the concept that has the best chances of providing exciting games.
On a side note, this change would also bring more exposure to the EU LCS orgs because—frankly—6 matches a week just aren’t enough to compete with the other regions.
Ditch the ‘LCS’
For far too long the EU LCS has been the weird cousin of the North American league. At this point, EU LCS seems more like an experimental ground for Riot Games to try out wacky concepts and formats than an actual competition. And if investors were to size up the leagues against each other, the comparison would be all but unfavorable for the EU LCS.
Well, it’s time for Europe to stand on its own two feet.
Rebranding the league won’t immediately change the way it’s perceived, but it’s a good way to announce loud and clear that Europe is a unique region that’s not just a sideshow to North America. And once you distance yourself from the ‘LCS’ concept, you could also leave the weird middle ground where the league is trying to cater the entire Western audience and shift its focus solely towards Europe.
What do you think about the current state of the EU LCS? Share your opinion in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Riot Games’ Flickr.