This weekend, Europe’s biggest esports league – The League Of Legends European Championship (LEC) – heads into playoffs. Not only will teams battle for the European title, they’re also competing at a place on the world stage later this year.
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If you’re interested in seeing how League Of Legends is played at the highest level – or you’re just curious about how the game has captured millions of viewers across the world – there’s no better time to jump in. To help get new viewers started, here’s all the information you need to get up to speed ahead of the biggest esports tournament on the continent.
To start off: what exactly is League Of Legends?
League Of Legends – often shortened to LoL – is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game where two teams of five players compete to destroy the enemy base and claim victory.
With over 150 champions for players to choose from (with the most recent being marksman-assassin Akshan), succeeding in League Of Legends comes down to a mix of mechanical ability and strategic thinking.
League Of Legends is played by 20million people all over the world each day, with 100million people globally each month. At any one moment, 8million people are playing League Of Legends – making it one of the most popular games in the world.
So, what tournament does League Of Legends have?
League Of Legends has professional scenes across the world, with Europe’s top level of competition battling it out in the League Of Legends European Championship (LEC).
This is the highest level of LoL competition in Europe. Every year, the tournament is divided into two separate competitions, the Spring and Summer Splits. During each Split, teams play each other twice in a best-of-one match format during a nine-week round-robin tournament. After this, the best teams will advance to the Playoffs each Split.
What happens next – how do Playoffs work?
Following the conclusion of the round-robin, the top six teams go on to compete in a modified, double-elimination Playoffs tournament with each match involving a best-of-five series between teams. The Playoffs are particularly exciting because this is where all the surprise wins and shocking defeats matter most, as teams can lose their chance at victory with just one series.
Who are the current and previous champions?
Spanish esports organisation Mad Lions won the 2021 Spring Split, securing their first-ever LEC trophy by overcoming a 0-2 deficit against Rogue in the finals. It was the first time since the inception of the tournament – way back in 2013 – that the final didn’t feature either of the titans in the scene, namely Fnatic or G2.
G2 Esports has secured the most number of LEC trophies altogether, winning the competition on eight separate occasions including four out of the last five. Not far behind G2 is Fnatic, the organisation has won seven LEC trophies in total, though their last title win was in the 2018 Summer Split.
What do I need to know about the six teams in Playoffs?
Defending champions Mad Lions are heading into the Playoffs as third seeds, and will be looking to retain their title and become the first team other than Fnatic or G2 to win multiple LEC trophies. Meanwhile, Rogue will be looking for revenge following their loss to Mad Lions in the Sprint Split finals and will hope to qualify for Worlds in the process.
Elsewhere, Fnatic are looking to bounce back from a disappointing Spring Split. Following some dramatic roster changes, they qualified into the Playoffs as the fifth seed and will be looking to equalise the all-time LEC title record currently held by G2 Esports.
Speaking of G2, the team had an uncharacteristically poor Summer Split, but as 8-time European champions, you can never count them out of the title race.
Misfits are the surprise addition to the Playoffs this time around and with an explosive rookie in their mid lane position, they will head into the Playoffs as the dark horse following an impressive Summer Split. Finally, there was an extremely tight race for the sixth qualifying spot this year, but in the end it was Vitality that clinched the final Playoff place after an intense last weekend of the regular season.
Is there a must-watch game in the opening round of Playoffs?
While all three first-round series in the Playoffs are guaranteed to excite, if we had to pick just one game, we’d land on Fnatic vs. Vitality. The Vitality team appear to be peaking in performance at just the right time, while Fnatic is under great pressure to perform in Playoffs and make Worlds.
What’s the prize for winning all this?
There is €200,000 (£169,316) in prize money up for grabs for the six grand finalists of the Split, but the teams are also competing for a shot at the World Championships.
The team placement in Spring contributes to their Summer Playoffs seeding, but in order to go to Worlds, they have to finish in the top three at Summer Playoffs. Everything is on the line for the six teams heading into the Summer Split Playoff race, as being knocked out now means having to wait until 2022 for another chance at success.
So, where can the LEC be watched?
However, the Regular Split can also be viewed in nine different languages (English, Polish, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Portuguese, Hungarian, Italian).