Understanding the NA LCS Format

League of Legends has many servers and leagues with various formats for professional play. In the case of North America and Europe, the professional league is called the League of Legends Championship Series, or LCS. Everyone wants to be the best, and for North America and Europe, that means winning their regional LCS and the World Championship. We will save talking about Worlds for another article, so for now we will focus on the LCS. Europe has a slightly different format than North America in which the teams are split into groups, but this article will be about North America.

The LCS is a year long season that is divided into two splits. The calendar consists of Spring Split, Mid-Season Invitational, Summer Split and then the World Championship. Everything prior to Worlds builds up to it, and it is the culmination of the year’s work.

The Spring and Summer Splits consist of ten teams. These ten teams compete every weekend. Each team plays two best-of-three matches per week, every week, for nine weeks. This means every team plays every other team twice per split. By the end of the split, the teams have a well-established tier-list, and that is where the fun begins. Being in first at the end of the regular split does not mean you won the Spring Split. If you are ranked first through sixth, you win a spot in the playoffs. If you are in seventh, you win nothing. If you are eighth or ninth, you have to fight to keep your spot. The bottom team is automatically relegated from the LCS

2016 NA LCS Summer Split Finals

The playoffs are a standard tournament format. The sixth and third teams play a best-of-five, as do the third and fourth. The winners go on to face the first and second seed teams who won a bye for the first round. The winner of the playoff tournament gets both bragging rights and a spot to compete in the Mid-Season Invitational for Spring Split and the World Championship for the Summer Split.

The seventh place team was not quite good enough for playoffs, but stayed safe from relegation. The bottom team is relegated from the LCS and is replaced by the top team in the Challenger Series, which is the equivalent of the minor leagues. The eighth and ninth teams compete with the second and third teams from the challenger series in a promotional tournament to determine the final to teams for the coming split.

The faces of the LCS are ever changing due to the policy of bottom teams getting replaced each split. This is a huge deterrent for teams to underperform, encouraging the best play possible to stay in the LCS.

For schedules, statistics and more on the LCS, check out Riot’s official website lolesports!


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