Season 3's World Championships start in a few short weeks, but the best teams in the world won't really be in attendance. 14 teams are selected to represent the world for Riot's end of the season championship, but we are all fooling ourselves if we think they are the overall best teams.
It's no secret to anyone who watches competitive LoL that Korea is the best region by a wide margin. It's not just how good they are, but how many teams are that good that makes Korea deserving of more slots if we truly want the best teams in the world competing. At one point it was Europe who was the best, next year it could China, but we need a way of determining how many seeds a region gets better than we do now. Regional representation is important, but there are better ways to go about selecting the overall teams. Let's take a look at the problem and how to fix it.
Only one of the following teams will be representing Korea at worlds: CJ Frost, CJ Blaze, KT Rolster B, and the reigning OGN champions SKT T1. Thinking about that fact makes me sad as a League of Legends fan because any of those 4 teams could have easily qualified in any other region. This is before we even mention the two already qualified Korean teams, Najin Black Sword and MVP Ozone. Korea has 3 spots, but should have at least 4 maybe 5 if we want an accurate representation of the best teams. One of the finalists from the most recent OGN championship that went all 5 games won't be at the championship so you know something is flawed.
Everyone has their own opinion on how good regions are in relation to each other, but avid watchers of the OGN should notice that the teams that compete there are both mechanically superior and more objective oriented than the rest of the world. It's not that they are so much drastically better at the top as it is that they have so many teams that play at such a caliber. It's quality AND quantity. They all play well as a team and seem to not only make fewer mistakes, but punish their opponents much more harshly when openings are found than the rest of the world. With apologies to Cloud9, Koreans are playing chess while the rest of the world plays checkers. At the end of the day, the 4th or 5th best team from a region like Korea has a better shot to win it all if they get hot at the right time than teams from weaker regions.
Realistically, it isn't fair to other regions to arbitrarily take away their spots because those fans want to cheer for their own teams. Only 14 teams represent the millions and millions of LoL players around the globe and Riot has done its best to keep everyone happy. We've seen that the system they have developed has improved but as the end of the season approaches we start to see its flaws as well. For Season 4 to be the best it can possibly be, some changes need to happen.
Regions have every right to be able to send their best to have a chance for bragging rights at the end of the year. A scenario shouldn't arise where a region gets left out completely. However, it's tough to punish a region simply because they are stronger top to bottom than the rest of the world. In a perfect scenario, all the regions would be equally skilled and this wouldn't matter, but that's not where we live. The real question is how many teams does each region deserve and how do we make those determinations.
Problems from the LCS and Possible Solutions
The LCS was a great success this season. It brought tons of interest to the scene and even saw Blizzard set up an extremely similar league for Starcraft as a response. E-Sports is growing faster than ever, but as the season ends we know the LCS wasn't perfect. Only NA and EU follow the same rules, and the rest of regions mostly use the circuit point system from Season 2. This creates a number of problems, but most notably the spring split of the LCS in both Europe and North America meant absolutely nothing.
Najin Black Sword has had middling performances since they won OGN winter almost a year ago, but is qualifying for the championships mainly based on that performance (when Maknoon was still on the team). Had TSM lost to CLG in the summer playoffs, their 1st place performance in the spring split would have meant absolutely nothing. Fnatic didn't have an easier schedule or an easier time at all in Europe because they won in the spring. The stakes need to be raised, or the system needs to be altered to make these early season games mean the same across the regions.
The LCS also means we don't get to see the different regions play each other anymore except at the end of the season. The best part about the tournament setting of Season 2 was seeing Europe, NA, and the rest of the world fight on a regular basis for bragging rights. All-stars hardly counts because those are exhibition games by players thrown together by the fans. They are great players, but they can't make a great team in two weeks of practice.
Fixing this is as easy as having a tournament in the middle of each split that pits at least two regions against each other like MLG Winter had with the International Exhibition. Take two teams from the home region and the top teams from their respective leagues in two other regions and pit them against each other for "region points." Region points should be weighed on these finishes with all-stars and previous world championship performances to determine how many seeds a region gets. This way wee could see Korea get 4ish seeds and still have the rest of world represented. It provides all the regions with incentive to do well because it determines how many spots they get going forward.
Riot's done a great job growing e-Sports and LoL is a great spot going into this season's finals and Season 4 beyond. Small tweaks should be made to the system, and we'd all like to see international play arise more often. Logistically, it's unrealistic to ask for truly worldwide events to happen all the time because of cost, visa issues, and so many other problems that arise but a happy medium needs to be found. IPL 5 was one of the best events LoL, and the absence of events like it hurts. Riot's building something great, and it's still a work in progress, but it's one that has been terrific to watch unfold.
What do you think RoG'ers? Should Korea or whoever else is the dominant region of the time get more points? How should the LCS be tweaked to matter more particularly in the spring? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to stay tuned to ReignofGaming for all your LoL-related needs.
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