League of Legends has become one of the most popular games in eSports, with apparently millions of US dollars awarded in prizes in recent years. I do not play the game, but I'm fascinated by how big the competitive sphere has become and want to keep tabs on it this year.

Unfortunately I cannot find a complete high-level description of how the official League Championship Series (LCS) and/or World Championships are structured, or when they take place. There's fragmented information around (which is out of date, too specific, or oddly structured), but it lacks dates and a connecting overview. Despite reading those sources, I don't understand the timeframe of "seasons" or whether one is happening now.

Please be verbose in your answer. Assume I am an outsider to the LoL community and know nothing more than that LoL is a competitive team game. Please use full dates with years in any examples.


2 Answers 2


Each season lasts approximately a year, and ends with the season's World Championship (WC). The World Championship usually occurs around early October (the Season 2 WC started on October 4, 2012[1] and the season 3 WC started on September 15, 2013[2]). The Season 2 WC had 12 teams participating; the Season 3 WC had 14 teams participating.

Each competitive region of League of Legends were given a certain number of teams they could send to the WC. For the Season 3 WC the distribution was as follows:

  • Southeast Asia: 1 team
  • Europe: 3 teams
  • Taiwan / Hong Kong / Macau: 1 team
  • North America: 3 teams
  • South Korea: 3 teams
  • Mainland China: 2 teams
  • International Wildcard*: 1 team

Two notes on this: The International Wildcard was a tournament between regions that did not yet have a large competitive scene (Brazil, Oceania, Lithuania, and Turkey) to send one team to the WC.

In addition, South Korea earned an extra spot up from their originally intended 2 spots by winning the All-Stars challenge in Shanghai, a tournament where each region sent 5 of their best players to compete in an tournament.

Each region selected their teams individually by the governing body of the competitive scene in that region. The structure of how each region decided to select which teams went to the WC is different.

North America and Europe

The North American League of Legends competitive scene is ran by Riot Games. It consists of two leagues: the League Championship Series (LCS) and the North American Challenger Series (NACS).

The LCS is a competition between 10 teams as of 2015 (formerly 8). It consists of two splits, each which in turn consist of a Regular Season and the Playoffs. Here is the basic structure of a single season of the LCS, using North America 2014[3] as an example:

  • Spring Split:
    • Spring Promotion (December 6, 2013 - December 22, 2013)
    • Spring Round Robin (January 17, 2014 - April 6, 2014)
    • Spring Playoffs (April 18, 2014 - April 20, 2014)
  • Summer Split:
    • Summer Promotion
    • Summer Round Robin
    • Summer Playoffs

Promotion Series

The Promotion Series decides which teams play in the Round Robin. The top 4 or 5 teams of the previous split stay in the Round Robin no matter what. The bottom 3 or 4 teams, decided by the Playoffs of the previous split, play against the top 3 or 4 teams of the NACS. The winning teams are seeded into the LCS Round Robin, whereas the losing teams are seeded into the NACS.

Round Robin

The Round Robin lasts approximately 11 weeks. Across these 11 weeks, each of the 8 teams will play 4 matches against each of the other teams- 28 matches for each team. The record of wins to losses for each team is recorded. At the end of the 11 weeks, the teams are ranked according to their win-loss record.


The top 6 teams participate in the Playoffs. The top 2 teams (based on the win-loss record) are given a bye to the semifinals. Here's an example of the playoff bracket layout.

The European LCS is ran the same way.

The top 3 teams of the Summer Playoffs are then sent to the WC.


The League Championship Series regular season starts early spring/late winter, in this year's case, January 17th. The season goes on until August 31st, then the top placing team from leagues around the world, based on their performance in their season from late winter - mid summer, competes in the World Championship which is scheduled to start during October.

The regular season for the LCS is divided into two splits for NA and EU: Spring split, and the Summer split.

At the beginning of each split are the qualifier matches where strong Challenger teams (high ranked teams that play competitively that want a chance at getting in the LCS and playing professionally) compete in a round-robin based tournament against existing LCS teams from the last season, who also must play well against the Challenger teams to secure a position in the LCS.

After the Spring split ends and the prize money is distributed respectfully to 1st to 4th placing teams in the league, the Summer split starts similarly to the way the Spring split started.

Also, between the Spring split and the Summer split is an All-Star tournament, where the winning teams of the Spring splits from league all over the world come and compete in a tournament.

As of now we are a week into the Summer Split. The teams end their regular season late summer as the top playing teams compete in the world championship for millions of dollars of prize money.

More info can be found here (although this is info on last year's season, many things are still the same) http://tournaments.leagueoflegends.com/s3-na-qualifiers/article/season-3-league-legends-championship-series

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