The Importance of the Multi-Game Format in Competitive League of Legends
Although Worlds has now come and gone with its entirely expected conclusion, you might think it strange that I start this article by revisiting a match from Worlds to write about. Specifically, I looking at the semi-final match between KOO Tigers and Fnatic. No, this is going to be an article about how Fnatic should have won and are the superior team etc. KOO were the better team, they won fairly and deserved the place in the finals. What I wasn’t to look at is the discussion that arose following the match about the possibility of the Best of 3 system being implemented into LCS.
Photo courtesy of Riot Games
Since its inception, the LCS has always had a Bo1 system. This decision was made in order for all teams to play three times a week, back when there were only 8 teams in the LCS, with the addition of “Super Weeks” where teams had to play even more games. Then, following the Expansion tournament, it went to each team playing twice a week with no Super Weeks but a longer season overall. This has been the way of things. However, when it comes to international events, there have always been questions raised about how this system prepared players when, typically, international tournaments, featured more Bo3s and Bo5s. Coupled with the fact that by 2015, EU and NA remained the only major regions that still used the Bo1 format, serious doubts were raised about how these regions could compete with regions like the LCK that had used multiple game formats for their regular season, not just their playoffs.
For the western regions, not running in a Bo3 is meant to place a larger emphasis on each individual game. But, in certain circumstances, it means that the results of these Bo1 may not always reflect the quality of the teams and their strategies. Some games might be lost by a poor level 1 start and thus, a game has been lost based not one each teams true ability whereas, in a Bo3, it would mean that the team that lost had a chance to comeback from that early mistake and demonstrate their true tactical prowess. One could argue that these games are, in fact, are lost based on strategy, as in one team did go in with the certain level 1 plan. Typically, however, when Level 1s go south or occur, it doesn’t occur because of overall strategic excellence. I’m not denying that there are instance where this does happen, but in the cases where this isn’t true, a team’s tactical ability is not adequately shown.
Installing the Bo3 format for the regular LCS season would finally bring every region in line with a multi-game format. This can be seen as more adequately preparing all teams for international competition where Bo3 are the standard for Round of 8 onwards.at a base level, this would result in a more competitive international scene overall, reducing the discrepancies between the true top teams (aka the Korean teams) and the western teams. A more competitive game is a more enjoyable game to watch and, while one can certainly derive some enjoyment from watching a good old fashioned pub stomp, I find it much more fulfilling to watch a game that is one a knifes edge, where any team could win at any moment, full of tension and drama. That being said, I doubt it would be the final miracle needed for western teams to suddenly start taking down the top Korean teams. What probably would help to reduce the discrepancy is international movement of teams amongst competitive regions, such as teams from LCS competing the most recent Kespa Cup. Unfortunately, such a move has been blocked by Riot Games. This wasn’t always the case as CLG.Eu and 6 other foregin teams went to compete in Azubu The Champions Summer in 2012 where CLG.Eu they came second, losing 2-3 to Azubu Frost in the final, but the most recent competitive LoL legislation has prevented such cross-regional competition outside of sanctioned international events. This loss over mobility over regions can certain be seen as harmful to teams looking to compete in the comparatively stronger regions on a regular basis in order to raise their own skill. You know what they say; “To be the best, you got to beat the best”.
Photo courtesy of OnGameNet
With the end of Worlds, there has been a great indication that Riot is looking to actually implement the long-awaited Bo3 format into the regular season. The Pre-Season patch has also unintentionally hinted at this change. Game times have been radically reduced from their usual 30-40 minutes to 20-30, with 30 minutes being the absolute latest I’ve had a game go. This strikes as an attempt to squeeze the Bo3 format into the pre-existing LCS season schedule by making it so games run shorter and, thusly, making it so the broadcast remains the same length and no major alterations are required. That’s all well and good, but it’s bizarre to think why it wasn’t implemented originally when the Korean model works so effectively, even more so considering Riot most recently changed the playoff games to be all Bo5s which, again, feels like it should have been the standard from the very beginning. I fully understand that there was obviously a learning curve for Riot in regards to creating a successful weekly eSports league. However, why not take points from a system that has proven to be so effective, time and time again.
Thankfully, it seems as if Bo3s and Bo5s are the competitive future for LCS, though they should have been implemented sooner, especially considering the improvement of teams globally. Looking at LMS teams performance at worlds this year, they did far better than was expected by all parties and it can be attributed to 2 factors: Their more competitive format, having moved from the old Bo1 to a LPL-style Bo2, and having the best scrim partners in the world, the LCK teams, which also speaks volumes of how allowing international movement of teams between region tournaments could really help narrow the discrepancy that still exists between the most competitive teams internationally.