It’s been reported by several outlets that the EU LCS will likely be splitting into four regions and adapting a Champions League style format. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a very subjective topic. Some are against it while others are all for it. I am of the opinion that short-term it’s going to be hurtful for Europe and we could possibly have a year or two where the competition within the region becomes significantly weaker. But the long-term positives from this split are definitely going to make it worth it and here’s why.
While it was no secret that EU’s viewership has died down in recent years, that has become more apparent with questions surrounding the region’s stability arising. The loss of viewers is a combination of legacy teams such as CLG EU and Gambit being disbanded or relegated as well as lots of teams in Europe not really having a personality on social media. One area where NA excels in is promoting their teams and growing their fan base with Immortals being a notable example. EU teams have struggled in this aspect and that’s why we are seeing fans losing interest in the league as a whole. If most teams feel the same and the only difference is the logos and team jerseys, naturally people won’t be interested in following their adventures in the LCS.
So where does the split come into play in terms of viewership? EU LCS needs a reset and it needs it badly. It has already reached the point where simple tweaks won’t fix the viewership. But pressing the reset button on the region might just do that. It’s a big risk but at this point there’s no other viable option. Giving the viewers a new format would make watching EU LCS a new and fresh experience. Not to mention a lot of people in Europe (even the younger audience) is familiar with soccer and the Champions League and giving us a format similar to it would make the league more interesting.
Europe is a huge region and there’s a lot of talent in it that goes unexplored because there is only one major league with ten teams in it. Increasing the amount of teams would definitely hurt the league’s short-term strength because teams in the lesser known countries aren’t on the same level as the current LCS teams. Forcing G2 or Fnatic to practice and play against teams like that would lower their own skill. However it’s not like EU won’t go to international events. The top teams of Europe will still get international experience which they will bring back home. Teams that play against them will pick up on what the top teams have learned and in the long-term Europe will regain its strength as a region. Except with almost triple the amount of teams in the region instead of there being only three or four strong teams, there will probably be around ten if not more.
And it’s not just about the teams themselves. Players that might be very good but don’t have the chance to prove it will also get exposure and a chance to improve. Europe is a vast region filled with all kinds of players and there’s no telling how good some of them might be if they are trained in the right environment. A prime example would be Longzhu’s Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. He’s been bouncing around average LSPL teams in China since 2014 and was relative unknown. But now that he has joined Longzhu Gaming not only did he win the LCK but he has also been recognized as one of the best Top Laners in the World. Great players like that could exist in Europe and we’ll never known that unless lesser known teams get a chance to play with the best of the best in Europe.
We all love Worlds because it’s an event that lets us watch regions clashing against each other. So how could that not be positive for the European region? Teams will be split into four regions that are located in London, Berlin, Barcelona and Paris. Doing this will only increase the national pride within a lot of these squads. For example it would be much more meaningful for Vitality to do well if they are representing their home country of France. In-fact it would give them extra motivation to do well if they don’t want to disappoint their local fans. This split will effectively give Europe a Worlds type of feel to it with the teams battling it out to represent their country well.
A competitive environment is something that Europe desperately needs. With the region not doing good in terms of money revenue, teams aren’t motivated enough to do perform well because even top teams like H2K are losing more money than they are gaining. Giving these squads more reasons to win their games will only increase the competitiveness within Europe.
To sum things up, I can definitely see the negatives of this move such as lack of money revenue and decreased level of competition in the short-term. But I think the long-term advantages of splitting EU into four regions will eliminate these negatives in the long run if Riot’s EU team handles the split well.
Photographs taken by Riot Games