EULCS to separate into 4 regions
The European LCS will transition from a 10-team, single location model to a regionalized 24-team model, according to ESPN. Each of the four regions – London, Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin – will house 6 teams, who will compete in the new format under multi-year licenses from publisher Riot Games. The top two seeds from each region will compete in a ‘Champions League’ style, continent wide competition, which will run simultaneously to the domestic competitions.
The EULCS has always played second fiddle to the NALCS — even though European teams have historically been more successful on the international stage. The league’s viewership is stagnant over the past few seasons, according to a report conducted by TheScoreEsports, and with G2 winning their 4th consecutive split earlier this month, competition is at an all time low.
The newly proposed format seems to be Riot’s way of addressing the mounting issues – by creating more domestic competitions, and by more than doubling the number of professional teams in the region, Riot hopes to revitalize it’s owned and operated European league.
The new format, though, begs many questions around quality of play, domestic league competitiveness, revenue sharing for regional sponsors, and overall stream viewership. With more teams playing out of more hubs, the total number of games will increase. And while Misfits’ owner Ben Spoont — in a reddit comment — defended Riot’s upcoming changes, the community’s reaction was more tempered: while regionalized leagues might create opportunities for new teams to enter the fray, more games will not necessitate a higher level of competition or increased viewership. Additionally, the economics of such a league, which will inevitably embolden a few regional powerhouse teams (as seen in European Football) have yet to be addressed – it’s unclear if all teams will share in regional sponsorships, or how media euros will be distributed amongst the teams, leagues, and players.
With the upcoming franchising system in North America, which includes a more fully drawn out competitive & economic ecosystem, it’s no surprise that the EULCS is attempting to change things up. It’s yet to be seen, however, if the proposed changes are going to fix the league’s structural problems.
Blizzard will open their first US esports stadium next month in Los Angeles
Blizzard Entertainment, creator of Overwatch and WoW, will open their first US esports stadium for the Overwatch Contenders League. This stadium will be known as Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and will be based in Burbank. The arena will primarily host Overwatch but also feature championship events for Hearthstone, WoW, and Heroes of the Storm.
As the esports scene continues to grow and Blizzard builds out their Overwatch League and overall esports presence, developing facilities with esports specific sound stages, control rooms, and practice facilities is the necessary next step. Previously Blizzard would have to convert traditional sports venues of varying sizes to fit their unique requirements. In addition, seating orientation was never optimal and left many seats with poor sight lines.
Additionally, this move further solidifies Los Angeles/Southern California as the North American esports hub as this new arena will join the Riot LoL Arena in Santa Monica and the Esports Arena in Santa Ana as some of the premiere esports facilities in the US. In addition to arenas, several major publishers are based in the area in addition to many professional esports teams including CLG and Immortals.
Expect Southern California to continue to grow as an international esports hub as ancillary products and industries develop with the continued rise of esports.
North Gaming Beat Immortals in Controversial Dreamhack Montreal Final
Immortal’s Counter Strike team arrived late to their finals matchup against North Gaming at Dreamhack Montreal and per tournament rules, forfeited the first map of a best-of-three series. The finals matchup was scheduled to start at 3:30pm local time, an hour after the prior semifinals game had concluded. At 3:05pm, only two Immortals players were present. Tournament rules state that teams have 15 minutes following the set game time to report to the stage before a map forfeiture is ruled. The Immortals were not ready to play until 3:56pm thus starting the series down 1-0 in a Bof3.
It’s unfortunate to see a team forfeit a round in a finals series in a premier event not just because of what it means to the players but the effect it has on the industry and fans. Talk on Twitter seems to point to some of the Immortals players having a few drinks following their semifinals victory. While these reports have not been confirmed, it shows a lack of professionalism and respect towards the tournament organizers and fans in attendance and watching online. Immortal’s CEO Noah Whinston was apologetic to fans on Twitter following the incident. Hopefully Immortals can get this issue sorted out and respond positively in their next competition.