2021 LCS Spring Split Supposedly Getting Canceled
According to Travis Gafford, Riot is looking to implement a bevy of changes to the LCS come 2021, including the Spring Split being canceled. Most of them — if they do end up happening — will change the region in huge and important ways. This is still a work in progress. A lot can change in a couple of weeks. Take everything you read with a bit of reserve and know that things might not pan out as we’re currently led to believe. A lot is going on behind the scenes, but not all of it has to come to fruition.
With that said, let’s focus on the biggest 2021 LCS changes that are currently in the works:
- 2021 LCS Spring Split canceled — The regular season will no longer be divided into two separate splits (Spring and Summer). Instead, we’ll be getting a format similar to the one used in the Overwatch League. This means that the regular season will start somewhere around January/February and then last for several months (eight or nine, we assume) with a break or two probably thrown in to balance things out.
- The Mid-Season Invitational will still be a thing — According to Gafford, there will be a Spring tournament of sorts that’ll pit the six best teams against each other, with the winner getting a ticket to MSI.
- Teams will face each other five times in total throughout the regular season. This is a significant change in narratives and storylines. It also means we’ll get more fiestas and clashes no one cares about like, say, Immortals vs. Counter Logic Gaming. That’s not exactly a premier match-up you’re dying to see, but you can’t have the good without the bad.
- There will be a kick-off tournament of some kind at the start of the season.
- There’s an excellent chance that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will have five games each. This also means that the regular season will consist of 45 games (up from 36), although we still don’t know what the schedule will look like and when the season will begin.
- Academy LCS will no longer be getting as much attention and will decrease in size. Riot also plans on blurring the line between Academy and amateur leagues, which means we’re bound to see a lot more competition between the two scenes.
- Most (if not all) orgs will be looking to sign a third-tier team (below the Academy level) and dig even deeper in the North American talent pool. This is in line with what 100 Thieves did with their 100T Next roster.
Temper Your Expectations
While these are undeniably exciting changes (with huge implications), it’s hard not to wonder whether it’ll all pan out positively. First of all, there’s a very real chance of there being “too much” LCS. Of course, you don’t have to watch it all, but we know that viewership took a serious hit back when teams played Best of 3s. We’re back to Bo1s now not because it’s the superior format but because it’s more entertaining and less taxing — on broadcasters, players, and viewers alike. In particular, the LCS isn’t the most exciting or competitive region around, which means that a good chunk (majority) of the regular season won’t be that fun to watch. Heck, maybe that’s even an understatement.
Will fans care all that much once Week 15 or 20 comes around? On paper, it’s all very much exciting. In reality, most viewers tend to get oversaturated fairly quickly, regardless of their allegiance. And that, in short, wouldn’t benefit anyone.
Furthermore, the LCS problem isn’t that there aren’t enough games, but rather that teams and players aren’t taking things seriously enough. In other words, most of them have been slacking off and whether the season is any longer or not means very little. It won’t necessarily jumpstart growth. Far from it, actually.
Now, make no mistake: these changes are promising. They’re a step in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean the region will get any stronger. It’s not about the format or the schedule or anything similar, but rather the approach organizations and players have. If a fundamental change doesn’t happen, teams can play a thousand games per season. International success will still elude them.
Finally, it’s worth thinking about the players as well. On the one hand, most of them despise the Spring Split as it plays such a minuscule role in the grand scheme of things. On the other, many pros have complained over the years that there’s not much breathing room throughout the season, especially if you’re a top-tier team. The champions have it worse. They only get a month or two of free time each year. It’s a marathon, really, and a taxing one at that.
It remains to be seen whether these changes will be LCS only or if the LEC will follow suit and change in 2021. There’s no reason for that to happen as the LEC has been incredibly successful throughout the last two years, both in viewership and international competitiveness. Still, a lot can change in a couple of weeks.
A format change is always exciting. This one should prove to be no exception. Still, Riot needs to tread carefully. There’s a chance that things might not pan out all that well. In any case, we’re bound to get official confirmation of the 2021 LCS Spring Split being canceled and other changes over the coming weeks, so stay tuned!