Instead, different leagues around the world provide different challenges and formats across different games. Some esports leagues host tournaments for gamers to challenge each other for cash prizes in. Other leagues function more like conventional sports leagues, consisting of a regular season followed by a playoff that eventually crowns the winner. Here is a look at some of the biggest and most popular esports leagues that are currently in action.
League of Legends Regional Leagues
Fans of European soccer will recognize the format that League of Legends uses for its leagues. In Europe, each country has it’s own professional league. Each of these leagues is its own separate entity, playing out full seasons to determine who is champion. Each year, the champions of these European leagues meet in the UEFA Champions League. This tournament puts all of Europe’s top teams on display with one crowned champion of all.
While the European soccer leagues and the UEFA are limited to just Europe, the League of Legends leagues span around the world. Top leagues currently in action represent Europe, North America, Korea, and China.
These leagues each function on their own, splitting their seasons into Spring and Summer. At the end of the year, the top teams in each of these leagues meet in the League of Legends World Championship to crown a world champion.
League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK)
The Korean League of Legends league is the strongest in the world. This 10-team league has produced five straight world champions from 2013-2017. It plays its matches in the Seoul OGN e-Stadium and the Nexon Arena in South Korea
SK Telecom T1 is a six-time LCK champion and a three-time world champion. The team features Lee Sang-hyeok (Faker) who is widely considered to be the greatest League of Legends players of all time. Other elite teams in the league include Gen G (formerly known as Samsung Galaxy) and Kingzone DragonX.
League of Legends Pro League (LPL)
In general, the teams that tend to come the closest to dethroning the LCK in the World Championships. This 12-team league is remarkably deep, possessing many of the best players and teams in the world.
The top teams in China include five-time LPL champion EDward Gaming, Royal Never Give Up, Team WE, and Invictus Gaming. Royal Never Give Up and Team WE finished third and fourth respectively behind Samsung Galaxy and SK Telecom T1 at the 2017 World Championships.
European League of Legends Championship Series (LEC)
The European LoL Championship Series started with eight teams back in 2013 but expanded to 10 teams in 2015. Fnatic dominated the league in its early years but the power has more recently shifted to G2 Esports.
North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS)
The North American LoL Championship Series still has some catching up to do to reach the levels of the other leagues nationwide, but it is taking strides. A recent restructuring to pump more money into the 10-team league and new owners should lead to more money and resources coming into the league. Top teams include Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Team Liquid and 100 Thieves. Games are played at Riot Studios in Los Angeles, California.
Other LoL Leagues
The League of Legends Master Series is an eight-team league that features teams from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Other leagues include the eight-team LCL continental league in Russia, Japan’s LJL, and Brazil’s CBLOL.
The Overwatch League was founded in 2017 and got underway in 2018. This league was built with the North American fan in mind. Instead of using a relegation system, the Overwatch League has a 12 team city-based franchise system. This means teams will remain in the league regardless of where they finish in the standings. Games are played at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles, California.
These 12 teams are split into divisions and play 40 games over the course of the season. 20 games are played within their divisions and 20 games out. The season is split into four stages with each stage being comprised of 10 games each. At the end of each stage, the top four teams enter a four-team playoff bracket and play for a $100,000 first place prize.
Through the first year of the league’s existence, New York Excelsior has established itself as the early team to beat. The team went 34-6 in its 40 league games in 2018. The team is led by South Korean superstar Jong-ryeol Park (Saebyeolbe), one of the top Overwatch players in the world.