Riot Games has announced that it will be introducing a new pan-European tournament involving the best teams from different countries.
While the intricacies and key info on how this will work haven't yet been revealed, it's expected that the winner of the ESL UK & Ireland Premiership will now qualify for this new national champions league, which will run twice a year.
Such a league was previously rumoured, but the 'part of the EU LCS could move to the UK' rumour isn't true (at least not yet).
That means it's likely either Excel Esports or Team Singularity will be the first from the UK/Ireland to qualify for the new national champions league - they are playing each other in the ESL Prem final this weekend.
The EU Challenger Series is being ditched in favour of this new system. It's not yet known what will happen to current Challenger Series teams.
The countries haven't been revealed yet either, but you can expect the likes of Spain, Germany, France, Poland, the UK/Ireland and the Nordics to be included. These six are the current European national leagues whose winners previously progressed to the EU Challenger Series Qualifiers.
In making this change, Riot is essentially cutting out the Challenger Series Qualifiers and streamlining the format.
As Riot is set to be bringing in a franchise-like model into the EU LCS and removing mid-season promotion and relegation, it's not yet known if the new national league will offer a pathway to the LCS, but it seems unlikely.
"We believe we can do more for aspiring pros, which is why we’ll be removing Challenger Series and introducing a new pan-European tournament involving local country teams."
Riot outlined the info in an article on the future of the EU LCS, saying in a statement: "When Challenger Series was launched, the goal was to create an environment for teams to grow and develop talent, as well as providing a path to the top for new team organisations. Unfortunately, the current structure doesn’t meet these goals - overall it’s a high-risk, high-investment system for teams without stability for pros, and limited exposure.
"We believe we can do more for aspiring pros, which is why we’ll be removing Challenger Series and introducing a new pan-European tournament involving local country teams. Already established ERLs (European Regional Leagues) will continue to qualify teams into the tournament and we’ll be increasing our support across Europe to enable aspiring pros to take part in the competition regardless of which EU country they’re in.
"The top teams from various local competitions will qualify for a special pan-EU tournament that will run twice a year.
"Our goal is to create a better competitive environment for non-EU LCS pros with more opportunities to demonstrate their talent, and an environment that nurtures new pros joining the scene.
"We want them to be better equipped for the transition to pro through more frequent competition, more opportunities to play in front of a live audience and pro-team scouts, and more chances to gain exposure and build a fanbase throughout the year. We’ll have more details to share around the new structure and format in a much more in-depth post soon."
Other EU LCS changes
Riot also announced other changes for the EU LCS:
- It's moving to a franchise-like model, expected to come into play in 2019, reports ESPN
- It's going back to a best-of-one format
- Riot is removing mid-year promotion/relegation in 2018
- Riot will increase the financial support provided to teams for the year
- Teams will also receive financial incentives based on the viewership the league generates over the course of the year
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