Recently, Riot announced the schedule for the upcoming 2018 World Championship tournament. With the announcement came a few changes that seem small at first, but will have an impact on the tournament for both the players and the teams. While no teams qualified yet, there’s already something to discuss about Worlds 2018.
Worlds 2018 will begin on October 1st in Seoul, Korea with the Play-in Stage. The Play-in stage doesn’t change much as it stays four days of group stages followed by a small break, leading into two days of qualification matches between the top teams. Afterwards the action will move on to Busan for both the group stage of the main event and the quarterfinals. But this is where the differences come in. Riot decided to make groups stage eight straight days this year, as opposed to the two weeks with a break as teams had previously. Riot also decided to make the quarterfinals two days instead of four, which means we’ll be seeing two matches a day during that time. Afterwards, the schedule remains the same, we’ll have a weekend of semifinals in Gwangju and finish it off with finals in Incheon.
While the changes don’t appear to be that big, it’ll have a big effect on teams and viewers alike.
Impact on players
Obviously the changes to the schedule will have the biggest effect on the teams in terms of their preparation and scouting. In the past, teams would have a break in between the two weeks of group stages to recover and to get a better read on the meta based on the games from week one. With the break in between now gone teams will have to react to the meta much faster as they won’t have the chance to recover as easily. This will favor teams like GAM Esports (formerly GIGABYTE Marines) who have interesting and unique strategies that sometimes require a bit of time to properly identify and counter. On top of that we’ll likely see a bigger variety of champs as teams will have a bit more freedom to experiment as they won’t have the time to properly figure out the meta.
Another factor that may become prevalent as a result is fatigue. With the previous format of Worlds, teams played for two days playing all three other teams in their groups. Afterwards they would have a break going into the next week of play. Without that break teams will only have a two-day break as the other groups play their matches. While this won’t affect every team, it could have an effect on some. As a result, the second half of group stages will still see some teams fall apart and some teams play better.
While the quarterfinals changes won’t have a huge effect on teams, the group stage changes are already pretty big. Whether this will lead to more upsets or just a lower quality of games is left to be seen. But the results are clear, these changes bring more negatives than positives.
Impact on viewers
The biggest effect the changes will have on viewers will be fatigue. Since the Worlds schedule is compressed, viewers (especially western viewers) won’t have a chance to catch a break as they used to with a two-week group stage. On top of that, viewers are going to be expected to watch two straight games for the quarterfinals each day now. It’s likely that we’ll see a slight dip in viewership for both group stage and quarterfinals when compared with Worlds 2017. Whether that will affect the viewership for semifinals and the finals themselves are left to be seen. But it’s is very likely that the viewership for those matches will stay around the same, if not increase.
Another effect this has on viewers has already been somewhat discussed above, the quality of games. It’s very likely that the quality of the group stage matches will drop a bit as teams will be figuring out the meta on the spot much more than previous Worlds. While some viewers will enjoy more chaotic games, a majority of viewers will likely not enjoy these matches as much.
It is understandable why Riot would want to make these changes as they outlined in their announcement post. But the overall downsides likely outweigh the positives of making these changes for teams and viewers alike. While the quarterfinal change is mostly manageable, the group stage changes are much more detrimental than they are helpful. For future Worlds, hopefully Riot reverts that change to the schedule as it’ll likely tire out both players and viewers. With that being said, Worlds 2018 will likely still be exciting as the Chinese region will look to finally challenge the dominance Korea has displayed since Season 3.
Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.
Follow Rui on Twitter @ruixu38.
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