After what feels like an eternity, the League Championship Series is starting up again. With all the drama, team switches, and new players, this year will surely be one for the history books. You may know all about the North American and European teams, but how much do you know about the other regions? League of a Legends is a worldwide phenomenon, with different organizations all around the world. The LCK, LPL, and LMS, are harder to tune in live for, but are worth checking out. Here’s a little back story and primer to help you enjoy these other competitions.
League Champions Korea (LCK)
When people think of the best teams in the world, what comes to mind? SK Telecom, Samsung Galaxy, and CJ Entus are some of the best teams to ever play the game and they all come from Korea. Korean players are known for being adept at the game with a methodical, well planned play style, as MonteCristo loves to proclaim. Three of the five world championships were won by Korean teams, and it’s no surprise why. Korea has a long history with eSports, it’s already an integral part of their culture. While in NA, eSports is still trying to find legitimate ground, Korea has had professional tournaments since the days of the original Starcraft, and even has its own television station dedicated to the games we love.
LCK has a different format then NA and EU. They play a best of 3, and whoever wins the overall match is considered the winner. If two teams have the same number of won matches, the team with less losses is considered ahead. If two teams have the same record, they will play a tiebreaker game. It’s a lot more complicated than the simplicity of “best of ones” but the Koreans keep winning so they must be doing something right.
Things to look for: SKT lost a few of its best players, and it’s going to be interesting to see if they can still be the best. Also keep an eye on the “Afreeca Freecs” and the “Jin Air Greewnwings” who are definitely going to make a huge splash this split.
League of Legends Pro League (LPL)
China’s esports community is exploding right now. More and more money is being shoveled into the competitive scene, with some teams picking up Korean players for gigantic sums of money. China is a very aggressive region, with players team fighting and ganking way more than in other scenes. China struggled a bit internationally recently, with “LGD” being beaten by TSM in quarter finals of IEM San Jose in November and at Worlds. It’s going to be exciting to see if the LPL can adapt this year.
The LPL has a unique format: the twelve teams are split into two groups of six, that will play every team in their group twice, and teams outside their group once. They are all a best of three, while the playoffs are a best of five. Something unique about both the LPL and LCK, are that in a playoff series with two wins a piece, the final game is played blind pick. So you can have two Leblancs going at each other in the mid lane, creating some really unique games of League of Legends
Things to look for: “LGD” has now picked up Marin, former SKT top laner, which should help them conquer the LPL. Expect teams like “World Elite” and “Edward Gaming” to rise to the top of the region. Also, when watching the games, some of the champion portraits are different, which can be hard to adjust to. Champions like Irelia look different in the Chinese client, so don’t get to confused when watching. That’s not Ao Shin, it’s just Hecarim.
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League of Legends Master Series (LMS)
The LMS is a different type of organization, because it doesn’t cover one territory, but instead multiple places. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau all play together in one of the first major League of Legends league. It was originally the Garena Premier League but was changed in 2015. In a recent Reddit AMA, “Machi17” a new team this split, says that the LMS play style is “about strong lanes and team fighting but has a bit more methodic style in teams.”
LMS uses a point scoring system, different than other regions. There are eight teams, which play each other twice. Matches are played in a best-of-two format, which seems really weird. If a team wins both games, they get three points. If its a 1-1 tie each team gets one point. The playoffs are played with the top four in a best-of-five format. Unlike the LCK and LPL there is no English stream, so trying to watch these games can get a bit difficult.
Things to look for: Expect the “Flash Wolves” to cause some upsets, and “AHQ eSports club” to continue to dominate the scene.