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Riot Announces Academy League to Combine Amateur Play

Nick Ray  | 
Academy League

Starting in 2021, Academy teams will compete against rising North American talent in a series of tournaments.(Photo courtesy Riot Games)

Riot announced on November 13th that the League of Legends Championship Series will reshape the structure of its Academy League in 2021 to create an ecosystem where Academy and amateur teams compete against one another. Rather than playoffs and finals, both Academy and Amateur teams will compete in various tournaments to qualify for the LCS Proving Grounds: a 12-team tournament held at the end of March to determine the best amateur team in North America.

HOW IT WORKS

Academy League

Teams will have multiple chances throughout the split to qualify for LCS Proving Grounds. (Photo courtesy Riot Games)

Starting in 2021, Riot will also introduce a new system of amateur tournaments that both amateur and Academy teams can participate in to earn points to qualify for Proving Grounds: Tier 2 and Tier 1 tournaments. The Academy season will now only last from January to February; the top six teams will automatically qualify for Proving Grounds, and the bottom four will participate in Tier 1 tournaments for a shot to qualify.

Tier 2 tournaments are amateur tournaments organized by a third party in affiliation with Riot and will take place alongside the Academy season. Teams competing in these tourneys will earn points across multiple Tier 2 tournaments, and the 10 teams with the most points at the end of the Academy season will advance to the first Tier 1 tournament of the year along with the 7th and 8th place Academy teams. .

Tier 1 tournaments will be run by various teams, sponsors, or third-party organizers licensed by Riot. Three Tier 1 tournaments will be held in a given Academy split before LCS Proving Grounds.

  • The first Tier 1 of the split, consisting of the top 10 Tier 2 teams and the seventh and eighth place Academy teams, will be held at the end of February. The top four teams from this tournament will auto-qualify for Proving Grounds, and the remaining eight teams will slot into the next Tier 1 along with the ninth and 10th place Academy teams.
  • The second Tier 1 of the split will be held in early March. Similar to the first Tier 1, the top four will advance to Proving Grounds and the remaining eight teams will have one last chance to qualify at the end of the month.
  • The final Tier 1 of the split, known as the “Last Chance Qualifier”, will be held at the end of March. Only two teams from this tournament will qualify for Proving Grounds.

A NEW LOOK FOR AMATEUR

All parties will be eligible to get involved with this tournament ecosystem as long as they submit an application through Riot. This includes LCS teams, third-party tournament organizers, brand sponsors, and amateur teams without any LCS affiliation.

To ensure the continued development of an amateur ecosystem within NA, Community-run amateur tournaments, now referred to as Tier 3, will not be replaced by this new system. Riot has also established a few regulations regarding the new system:

  • A minimum player signing age requirement of 15.
  • Player protection and parental consent guidelines for players signings below age 18.
  • Only NA residents (US, Canada, OCE) may compete in Tier 1 and Tier 2 tournaments.
  • Amateur contracts may not be longer than one year and must end before free agency. They cannot be renewed or extended.

Riot has also confirmed that a system will be put in place to compensate amateur teams for assisting in developing talent that are signed to Academy and LCS teams.

This announcement comes after a poor performance from the LCS at the 2020 World Championship left the community critical of the region’s talent development infrastructure.

Nick Ray
Nick Ray
Nick is a Richmond based writer and pianist with a passion for League of Legends and esports dating back just far enough to say he was into it before it was cool. When he's not consuming massive amounts of League content, grinding out ranked games, or walking his dog, he's quite possibly asleep.