Plenty of structural changes are set to come to the League Championship Series (LCS), Academy and Amateur format in 2022, Riot Games announced Tuesday.
From updates to the LCS, Academy and Amateur 2022 season schedules, to the announcement of a new North American "super server" similar to the system long-established in China, here's a breakdown of Riot Games' 2022 LCS format update.
The 2022 LCS Season will officially kick off the action on Jan. 14, with the return of the LCS Lock In Tournament from last year.
Its structure will remain unchanged in 2022 — all 10 LCS teams will battle through groups and bracket stage for the Lock In trophy, $150,000 and "bragging rights" — with LCS Championship finalists 100 Thieves and Team Liquid drafting teams into their groups for a single round robin.
Unlike in 2021, however, the entire Lock In Tournament is scheduled to be held on LAN at the LCS Studios, with the final set for Jan. 30.
As for the LCS regular season in 2022, the league is returning to an even split between the Spring and Summer Splits, with each consisting of eight-week double round robins. Teams' regular-season records will no longer carry over from Spring to Summer Splits as well.
In addition to five games being played every Saturday and Sunday, the league will also be hosting two "LCS Super Weeks," in which five additional games will be played on Friday.
Here is the upcoming broadcast schedule for the 2022 LCS Season:
- Lock In Tournament and "Super Week" Fridays: 5 p.m. ET start time
- Saturdays: 4 p.m. ET start time
- Sundays: 3 p.m. ET start time
By reducing the number of games played and pushing back the start times, Riot hopes to "help combat player burnout" and "help out" their east coast and European fans to catch "more meaningful matches."
The format and stakes involved with the Spring and Summer Split Playoffs will remain the same as they were last year, although some new week-long breaks will be given between MSI and the start of the Summer Split, as well as between the end of the regular season and the LCS Playoffs.
Here are the upcoming key dates for the 2022: LCS Season:
- Jan. 14: Start of Season/Lock In Tournament
- Jan. 30: Lock In Tournament Finals
- Feb. 5: Spring Split Begins
- April 2: Spring Split Playoffs Begin
- June 18: Summer Split Begins
- Aug. 20: Summer Split Playoffs Begin
Academy and Amateur
The 2022 LCS Amateur schedule will officially kick off on Jan. 10 with Open Circuit 1, while the 2022 LCS Academy Season will begin on Jan. 19, with the launch of its Spring Split.
The LCS Academy Spring and Summer Splits will be double round robins with best-of-two matches — a total of 36 games for each team every regular season.
LCS Academy matches will be normally be played on Thursdays and Fridays, but will also shift to Wednesday and Thursday during LCS Super Weeks. A third party will reportedly operate two simultaneous Academy broadcast streams — one on their channel and the Riot-owned Academy channel.
Instead of holding Academy Playoffs, which Riot felt was "extraneous" to run alongside Proving Grounds, the LCS will eliminate that concept altogether and seed all 10 Academy teams directly into Proving Grounds based on their regular-season records.
Additionally, citing a "refocus and further investment into building out Proving Grounds and Amateur tournaments next year," Riot announced that Scouting Grounds will not return in 2022.
Meanwhile, the Amateur competitive circuit will be consolidated into two tournaments that run alongside each Academy split. The Top-10 amateur teams after the two tournaments will qualify for Proving Grounds.
LCS Amateur games will be played on Mondays and Tuesdays, and broadcasted on the Academy and broadcast partner’s channels.
Proving Grounds will serve as the culmination of both Academy and Amateur competitions at the end of each split.
First, the bottom four Academy seeds will face the bottom four Amateur seeds in a single-elimination, best-of-three format as a play-in stage. Once the Top 16 teams are set, the rest of Proving Grounds 2022 will function as it did last year: double-elimination best-of-three matches, with the final being played on LAN.
Lastly, Riot announced their plans to launch the Champions Queue in North America — an exclusive matchmaking system with games hosted on a west coast server for "high-skill players serious about improvement."
While more about features and admission criteria regarding the Champions Queue is said to be revealed in the coming months, it is definitely exciting to see one of the region's long-tenured complaints finally potentially being addressed.