Best LoL Tournaments 2019: LCS, LCK, and International Events
If you’re into League of Legends esports, you know the game has a thriving competitive scene with countless tournaments across the globe. However, there are only so many hours in a day. And if you’re interested in following LoL tournaments or betting on League of Legends matches, it’s great to know which events deserve your time.
That’s why our team of experts prepared a list of the best LoL tournaments 2019 in the world!
Formerly known as the NA LCS, the LCS is the first competition most English fans tune in to. Now, technically, it’s not a tournament. It’s a league. That said, leagues play a huge role in the world of League of Legends esports, so it’d be a mistake to dismiss them. The LCS acronym itself stands for the “League of Legends Championship Series”, and the league itself is the premier LoL esports competition in North America that takes place in Los Angeles, USA.
Over the course of the competition, 10 professional teams play in the double round robin format. This means that each team plays twice against every other lineup, and so, for 9 weeks of the regular season, they keep clashing in fierce Bo1 matches. The winners get a point added to their overall score while the losers walk away empty-handed.
Once the regular season ends, 6 teams with the best win/loss record advance to the playoffs, and 2 best-performing lineups get a bye to the Semifinals. The playoffs format shifts towards Bo5s—prolonged series where a team needs to win 3 games to claim victory. This structure is ideal for betting on League of Legends matches, as all participants get to adjust their strategies to highlight their strengths and cover their weaknesses, so there’s less room for an upset compared to Bo1s. The team that crushes all enemies in its path is crowned the LCS champion, receiving the trophy and a sizeable chunk of the prize pool.
Keep in mind that every year has two LCS seasons: Spring Split and Summer Split. And while the Spring Split comes with numerous benefits like Circuit Points, Rift Rivals invitations, and Mid-Seasonal Invitational tickets, it’s the Summer Split that matters the most. Because the three LCS teams that acquire the most Circuit Points by the end of summer, qualify for the largest LoL esports tournament in the scene—the League of Legends World Championship.
Why Watch LCS?
It’s no secret that the lack of domestic talent and laidback player mentality make the LCS less competitive than other major leagues. However, things are beginning to change. The league is in its second year of franchising, meaning that its participants have permanent slots and can’t be knocked out of the competition by other organizations. This creates a sense of stability that attracts massive investors and makes the NA LCS one of the most solvent competitions in the League of Legends esports.
There’s serious money here. And money often goes hand in hand with talent. With that, the LCS turned into a melting pot of high-level players from all over the globe. It’s also home to striking narratives and entertaining personalities, and while these don’t always make the league more competitive, they definitely make it more fun to follow!
Much like its North American cousin, the LEC (or, in the past, the EU LCS) is a league. The acronym stands for “League of Legends European Championship”, and the event itself takes place in Berlin, Germany. The LEC format mirrors that of the LCS, making it easy for viewers to switch between both competitions.
One notable difference is the fact that the LEC has only recently adopted franchising. With that, the league is expected to go through growing pains that come with the implementation of the permanent partnership system, and it might take some time for the LEC to catch up to its North American counterpart.
Why Watch LEC?
The LEC is renowned for its individual talent. Since Europe has a much larger player base compared to North America, every year new names come out of nowhere to steal the spotlight from established veterans. Some of them are mechanical prodigies that make their presence known through spectacular outplays, others are bold innovators that continuously come up with off-meta picks and creative strategies.
That said, European lineups tend to lack synergy. It’s difficult to make a single unit out of five players that don’t speak English as their first language, so players aren’t always on the same page on the Rift. Still, the best LEC organizations tend to have the grit and the talent to do their region proud at international LoL esports tournaments.
As you might’ve guessed by this point, the LCK is also a league. However, it’s wildly different from the LCS/LEC. The acronym stands for the “League of Legends Champions Korea”, and the competition takes place in Seoul, South Korea. Once again, the regular season consists of 10 teams playing against each other for 9 weeks of the double round robin format, but the matches themselves take the shape of Bo3s, so LCK teams have to take 2 games to get that W.
The playoffs structure is even more distinct. For one, only 5 teams make the cut, so there’s already one less contender compared to Europe and North America. Not only that but the lineup with the best regular season record automatically secures a bye to the finals. Meanwhile, the second-best team is seeded into the Semifinals, the third-best team qualifies for the Quarters, and the last two teams play in the wildcard round. All matches with the exception of the wildcard round follow the Bo5 format.
Finally, the LCK participants have to worry about the looming dread of relegation. Two teams with the worst regular season record are knocked down to the Promotion Tournament where they can get eliminated from the league. Teams do everything in their power to avoid this outcome, and the competition is much stiffer as a result.
Why Watch LCK?
If you’re looking for quality League of Legends esports, you can’t go wrong with the LCK. This league is famous for its extraordinary level of play, and even a run-of-the-mill Korean team can frequently challenge the best lineups from other regions. Of course, South Korea is well-known for its esports prowess, so this level of dominance isn’t surprising.
With a giant pool of top-tier players and dedicated coaches, Koreans are always a force to be reckoned with at the top League of Legends tournaments. Their mixture of talent and dedication is potent in and of itself, but it’s their strategic prowess that really separates them from other major regions. And anyone who wants to see the peak of competitive League of Legends knows not to miss the LCK broadcast.
The LPL is another LoL esports league worth following. The acronym stands for “League of Legends Pro League”, and the competition itself takes place in China. Up until recently, the LPL was overshadowed by the LCK, since the latter was viewed as a much more cutthroat league. However, everything changed when the LPL representatives—Invictus Gaming—claimed the World Championship trophy in 2018.
The first thing that stands out about the LPL is its scale. This competition is much bigger than other League of Legends esports events, and it has a total of 16 professional teams fighting against each other in various venues all over China. The regular season lasts for 10 weeks, as each team has to go face its opponents in a Bo3 single round robin format.
Afterwards, 8 best-performing teams advance to the single elimination Bo5 playoffs. It’s worth noting that the top-2 teams advance directly into the semifinals, the third and fourth teams get seeded into the round of 6, and the remaining competitors end up in the round of 8. With that, many squads have to go through hell and high water if they want to get within arm’s reach of the LPL trophy.
Much like the LCS and LEC, the LPL is franchised, so Chinese teams don’t have to worry about relegation. That said, the competition is fierce purely because of the large number of participants and the gigantic player base each of them can tap into. Every team has at least one player that would be considered a superstar in another region. And while not everyone knows how to use them, it still speaks volumes about the level of Chinese League of Legends.
Why Watch LPL?
It’s no secret that most major regions follow the macro-oriented Korean example of how to play League of Legends. China is an exception. No matter the state of the game, Chinese teams are always looking for an opportunity to pull the trigger and kick-start a bloody teamfight. With that, it’s not exactly surprising that the LPL gained the reputation of the most entertaining LoL esports league in the world.
Then, there’s individual skill. As we’ve mentioned above, China’s player base is huge, and only the best of the best can make it onto a pro team. Hence, LPL rosters are filled with mechanical prodigies, and every single one of them goes above and beyond to showcase their ability on the Summoner’s Rift.
5. International LoL Tournaments
While regional competitions are certainly noteworthy, the best LoL events are international tournaments. All of them bring different things to the table, but there’s one aspect they have in common: the strongest teams in the world playing for huge stakes. And if that’s not a recipe for high-quality League of Legends, we don’t know what is!
Up until 2017, no one’s even heard of Rift Rivals. Granted, the event is fairly new, and it doesn’t hold as much weight as the best LoL tournaments 2019, but it’s still one of the most exciting competitions to follow. It takes place at the beginning of July when the top teams from Spring Split are invited to represent their league against some of their fiercest rivals!
Russia vs Turkey! Europe vs North America! The three-way battle between South Korea, China, and Taiwan! Most matches take the shape of Bo1s, so teams don’t get to show everything in their arsenal. But the sheer hype surrounding the event more than makes up for this shortcoming!
Mid-Season Invitational (or MSI) is a top League of Legends tournament that occurs after the Spring Split. The event kicks off with a giant Play-In bracket, involving eight teams from emerging regions (Brazil, Turkey, CIS, etc.) and two teams from the weakest major regions (Taiwan and Vietnam). All of them fight through the massive group stage and the knockout bracket to determine two lineups that will advance to then next stage.
Then, the Main Event begins. Six top-tier lineups duke it out against each other for the right to claim the MSI trophy and considering they’re all first-place teams from the Spring Split, the level of play is as high as it gets. The prize pool tends to be a minimum of $1,000,000, so –unlike with Rift Rivals—there’s more than bragging rights at stake here.
Finally, the MSI is a clash of playstyles. Most of these lineups approach the best LoL tournaments 2019 in wildly different fashions. Some focus on dominating teamfights, some prefer to outmaneuver their opponents in battles of wits, others favor underhanded tricks and off-meta strategies. And regardless of their weapon of choice, it’s the perfect opportunity to see how your home region fares against the international competition.
There’s no denying that MSI is important. However, it doesn’t even come close to the League of Legends World Championship. This is the most prestigious LoL esports tournament in the scene. The event takes place after the summer season, and—much like the MSI— it begins with a huge Play-In stage.
The differences start to show during the Main Event. The pool of competitors is much wider, as it includes the top-3 teams from each major region. All of them have to fight through a cutthroat group stage, and even top-tier lineups like TSM or G2 Esports can crumble because they can’t handle the heat. But the playoffs are even harder. A string of excruciating Bo5s puts great teams into do-or-die scenarios. There are no second chances for the losers, and the winners don’t get a lot of rest before having to face their next opponent.
But this ordeal is worth it. For one, there’s a huge prize pool that goes over the $4,000,000-mark. The title itself holds even more value since Worlds winners are celebrated as the best teams in League of Legends history. There’s also a matter of national pride. For most of League of Legends history, World Championships have been dominated by South Korean teams, so other regions are always looking for a chance to upset the favorites.
Other LoL Tournaments
We’ve covered a lot in this article, but in the grand scheme of things, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You might very well find that the best LoL tournaments 2019 for you lie away from the spotlight. Regions like Japan, Oceania, and Latin America all have their own leagues and LoL esports events.
Then, there are secondary leagues, local events, and even amateur tournaments. Every week, dozens of League of Legends competitions happen across the globe, and the only thing left for esports enthusiasts is choosing which ones to follow.