In this year’s off-season we’ll be evolving the EU ecosystem by elevating four of our European Regional Leagues (ERLs) to a new tier of professional play. The Premier Tour (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), the UKLC (United Kingdom + Ireland), the LFL (France) and the Superliga Orange (Spain) will be the first Leagues to be included in this new tier, which will feature various new regulations and stream-lined processes in order to ensure we are providing the best possible experience for our competitive players in Europe.
Before we jump into the details, a quick look back: Huge changes took place over the last two years as we aimed to create a clear path into the professional ecosystem for League players in Europe.
In 2018, the Challenger Series was retired and a new pan-European system designed to promote ERLs began. The top teams from individual regional leagues would compete to qualify for European Masters, a new pan-EU tournament that would run twice a year, to decide the best regional team in Europe. By the end of 2018, 13 regions established European Regional Leagues across Europe with each league providing a new skill development pipeline greatly amplifying competitive League of Legends in Europe.
2019 has proven to be a successful year for this new take on the League of Legends competitive ecosystem in Europe:
- Out of the 63 players who played in the LEC Summer Split, 28 of these players have played in an ERL in the past 12 months.
- Since the development of ERLs and the rebrand of the LEC, Europe has also shone on the international circuit with G2 winning the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational (after Fnatic managed to reach the Finals at Worlds) and Europe as a whole besting North America at Rift Rivals.
- EU Masters proved itself a successful scouting ground for talented players in Spring, with 7 out of the 10 players that played in the EU Masters Spring Finals playing in the LEC Summer Split. European Masters continues to be the pinnacle of talent development as LEC Teams look to the ERLs and EU Masters to scout their next stars.
Now we are looking at how we can develop the European circuit even further. We want to help teams in our ERLs match the level of professionalism of the LEC.
The reason we are kicking off this process with these four leagues is that the professionalization process takes tremendous effort and we have local offices in those markets we can leverage to help us establish these new standards. The goal is to eventually expand this new tier of professional play to additional ERLs, but we wanted to ensure that we had the best support possible for the initial introduction to allow this new system to hit the ground running.
But what are we introducing in these ERLs exactly?
Players in these ERLs will be recognized and registered in the Global Contract Database starting this Free Agency period in November, offering the same level of poaching and tampering protections as for LEC players while providing an easily accessible overview of all players in those Leagues. This is to ensure that ERL teams have bigger incentives to scout and invest in talent themselves without running the risk of that talent getting immediately snatched away from them. On the flip-side, we also want to ensure that players have the ability to appropriately develop their career, which is why we are limiting the time contracts are recognized in the Global Contract Database to a maximum of two years, thereby ensuring all contracts allow Players to enter the Global Free Agency in November at least once every two years.
In order to be registered in the Global Contract Database, all ERL players will have to pass behaviour checks and we are streamlining the process around that by setting clear standards and penalties across the four ERLs. For players without any flags in the vetting process we are introducing an ERL Player Benefits Program, fully unlocking one of their accounts on the live server with all purchasable in-game content while they are competing as pros.
On the legal side, we are requiring all players to be contracted to the organizations that have to register with their respective ERL. We are also introducing various additional requirements for those contracts, primarily aimed at player protection, to ensure all players in Europe are guaranteed to be able to develop their careers to the best of their ability. These key contract terms will also be vetted by the Riot teams in the respective regions to add another layer of protection.
This is an exciting next phase in the ERL development and we’ll be sharing more details on what to expect in 2020 in the coming months.