In recent news, Riot Games has announced that the LCS will be reverting back to best of ones for the regular season. This comes as a shock to many as best of threes seemed to have been improving the regions as a whole.
With the NA LCS heading to franchising next year, viewership will be the main focal point for sponsors and organizations. Best of ones provide more air time for every team without the threat of dual casts. Viewership also favors best of ones for the casual viewer who may not want to spend 3-5 hours watching an entire best of three.
Why they went to best of three to begin with
The major argument for best of threes was that it felt like winning a series made a much more clear cut winner and added variety. It allowed teams to have “cheese” picks they could pull out the first game for an upset, but also required them to need to know how to close it out. Best of threes has also opened the door for six man rosters as many teams looked at subbing players in with different play styles that could change a series.
Best of threes also allowed for more games to be played in general. More practice on stage allowed teams way more games than in best of ones. North America in particular felt lacking as they had not had great results in international competition. In Korea’s LCK they had already been doing best of threes which seemed to make the region much more competitive. There’s more chances to try different strategies on stage, along with being able to try new rosters.
Why they’re reverting back to best of ones
Riot has stated that best of ones provides the most viewership for the average LCS fan. When surveyed, most fans felt like best of threes was too many games to digest and would rather play than watch an entire best of three. With franchising coming soon, viewership will need to stay high for it to succeed for everyone. Not everyone wants to tune in for a 3-5 hour series. Best of ones allows all teams even viewership without the threat of a rivalry being dual streamed at the same time.
Scheduling wise, best of ones are easier to plan/schedule around for fans and Riot alike. Best of three series has too much variability in the time frames that games could occur.
Viewership vs. Competitive quality
The major concern here is how much viewership matters over competition. Best of threes gave teams much for variability for strategies and such, but might be too long for the casual viewer. For the average LCS fan it will be easier to see your favorite team play and than go back to playing yourself. A single stream evens it out for the lower teams to have more people watching their games. Will we get less cheese from the higher ranked teams and more from the lower placed now? Does the quality of play drop off with this change?
When best of threes were first being talked about, many fans/pros felt it was needed to help catch up with the likes of Korea. More games would mean more chances to improve as a team, right? That wasn’t necessarily the case as Korea still dominated Worlds the past two years.
It will be interesting to see how going back to best of ones changes the NA LCS. Viewership may improve, but does the quality of game play fall off?
Cover photo by Riot Esports
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