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Playoff Format Changes in the Emerging Regions


Despite the Mid-Season Invitational being three months away, it is always vital to understand the process for how teams qualify for this important international tournament. Recently, the League of Legends community has seen playoff formats change in larger regions like North America and Europe. These changes are not exclusive to these western regions. Half of the Emerging Regions have updated their playoff formats, all of which will improve the competition for the championship title.



Image Courtesy of Riot Games

Japan’s LJL has undergone the largest changes to its postseason of any of the Emerging Regions. In 2014, the opening year of this league, the only postseason occurred at the end of the summer split. This consisted of the team with the best record in spring facing off against the team with the best record in summer. This originally changed in 2016 with the addition of a three-team playoff bracket.

Finally, this archaic postseason structure has been changed, doubling the amount of teams that can qualify. Heavily modeled after Europe’s LEC, the most defining feature of the “Juggernaut Match” will give incredible incentive for securing a top-two seed. The Juggernaut Match sees the top two teams of the regular season play against each other with the winner moving onto the finals, while the loser drops down to the lower bracket.

The first round begins with the third seed choosing to play either the fifth or sixth seed team in the lower bracket. Whoever remains between the two plays against the fourth seed. The next week features the winners of the first round playing against each other, as well as the Juggernaut Match. Finally, the two remaining lower bracket teams will compete to determine who the second team to attend finals will be.


Image Courtesy of Riot Games

The Latin American league entered the 2020 season with the most drastic changes to its regular season. Starting with the usual round-robin phase, each match win now provides one point for each victory. At the end of the double round-robin, the top five teams move onto the second phase. During this second phase, these top five teams compete in a single round-robin, with match victories now granting two points. After combining the points from both phases, the top four teams move onto the postseason.

This postseason takes the form of a simple gauntlet style playoff based on the seeding after the second phase. Importantly, these new changes cut the total number of playoff teams from six to four, limiting the number of teams who have the chance to attend the Mid-Season Invitational.


In the Oceanic Pro League, otherwise known as the OPL, the previous playoff format was modeled on that of Korea’s LCK. Similarly to previous years, only the top five of eight teams will qualify. However, that is where the similarities end. The second and third seed teams will face off in the upper bracket, with the fourth and fifth-ranked teams playing in the lower bracket. The top team of the regular season will be given an important first-round bye. From here it becomes a traditional double elimination bracket until the finals.

The most important significance of this change is the end of the infamous gauntlet runs. However, it also means that the top team will have to play at least two best of five matches to win the title. The double-elimination bracket also gives advantages for teams that place higher during the regular season. Therefore, the regular season now has additional value that it previously was missing.


Image Courtesy of Snowball Esports


Image Courtesy of Riot Games

Despite being the combination of the LMS and Southeast Asia, the PCS does not take after the format of either of its predecessors. Arguably the most simple of the newer postseasons, the PCS will be a standard double-elimination bracket. The seventh and eighth place teams will start in the lower bracket. The upper six start in the upper bracket. More so than with the OPL, ranking in the PCS will be vital to the postseason success. The difference between the seventh and sixth seeds are quite massive, as that extra match gives a crucial second chance. This usually results in better teams gaining an advantage, as well as reducing the impact of unconventional strategies.


Image Courtesy of Riot Games


As League of Legends grows as an esport, adjusting a format is a great way to keep fans engaged. Each of these regions now places more importance on the regular season as well. By doing this, teams are rewarded greater for improvement, and competition naturally increases.


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