League of Legends developer Riot Games will reformat the European League Championship Series 2018 summer season to include four regions in a Champions League-inspired configuration, league sources told ESPN.
The league, which currently has 10 teams, will split into four regions -- London, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, Spain -- sources said. Event spaces for those regions, excluding Berlin, have not been determined, but it is expected that Riot will secure it over the course of the next few months.
These new leagues will house six teams each, making it 24 total teams across all four regions. Participating teams will be granted a multiyear license from Riot Games to compete in the league, but a hard date on those licenses has not been established, sources said. This means teams won't have to fear the possibility of relegation from their domestic leagues.
The top two teams of each domestic league will automatically qualify into the greater league, which will run alongside the competitive seasons of the domestic league, similar to the Champions League, according to sources. The third- and fourth-place teams will compete in a play-in, while fifth and sixth places will play in an open qualifier. The greater league will house a total of 16 teams, with a number of group stages and a double-elimination playoff bracket. Qualifications for the 2018 World Championship will include the winner of the greater league as well as a Championship Points system similar to the one that currently exists.
The current 10 participating EU LCS teams will be able to declare their home region in the coming months, sources said.
Riot is currently recruiting teams for its domestic leagues, which included hosting a number of professional soccer teams in Paris during the EU LCS finals. Other teams with ventures in League of Legends, such as Paris Saint-Germain, Origen and Red Bulls, have expressed interest in participating, sources told ESPN.
The format changes come after a number of EU LCS owners, such as H2K, expressed unease regarding the future of the league. Meanwhile, four of the EU LCS teams -- G2 Esports, Misfits, Splyce and Fnatic -- applied for franchise membership in the North American League Championship Series. The changes are a continuation of experimental changes from Riot Games' European branch. The league attempted the best-of-two format for the regular season and then split the league into two groups. The league has seen a decline in viewership over the past year, according to a report by theScore Esports.