The new Oceania League of Legends league is set to start on February 23.
In response to Riot Games shutting down the Oceanic Pro League (OPL), esports production company ESL has teamed up with investment firm, Guinevere Capital, to bring in the new League of Legends Circuit Oceania (LCO), making it the premier tournament and league for the Oceanic region.
Over the course of eight weeks and 19 total days of play, the eight LCO teams will compete in a double round-robin format — teams will face each other twice over the course of five weeks. Once the regular season ends, the bottom three teams get eliminated while the top five teams move on through to a Double Elimination Playoff bracket that will start on March 30-31 and April 6-7, with the finals taking place on April 10.
The winner of the finals gets to represent the Oceanic region at Riot Game’s Mid-Season Invitational (MSI).
We want to build a really engaging broadcast that is the sort of broadcast that every League of Legends player in Oceania actually wants to watch.
- PR & Social Manager at ESL Australia, Alex Blaikie
This condensed schedule allows for the league to work with Riot’s timeline, allowing for winning teams to take part in the MSI and the League of Legends World Championship tournaments.
ESL will stick to the two splits and the Riot-hosted events for the time being. Both ESL and Guinevere want to get the basics in place. But that hasn’t shied them away from thinking big and thinking ahead.
“Once things return to slightly more normalcy, whether that’s either this year or in the future. As ESL, we have typically a lot of opportunities to run events; we run a lot of events, at least pre-COVID, and those opportunities will definitely present themselves again. We have the ability to do that — stay tuned,” said PR & Social Manager at ESL Australia, Alex Blaikie.
Similar to the OPL last year, the LCO will have eight teams participating in the event. The teams were taken from the previous OPL. Here is a list of the eight teams participating in the LCO.
- The Chiefs
- Dire Wolves
- Legacy Esports
- Peace (previously Avant Gaming)
With a new league in the Oceanic region, comes a chance to start fresh; a clean slate, as Managing Director at Guinevere Capital, Dave Harris, put it.
“I think there’s a huge opportunity to start again, and this is what — across the esports world — is a chance to change the model and reset. Obviously, OPL was amazing in what it’s built in this region from sort of being Pax, the Lunar Parks, some of the big events that broadcast. It created a real step change to this region, said Harris. “As the model and the background changed — it’s been quite public obviously — League of Legends competitive went from potentially being a marketing tool to being a business unit for Riot Games. The funding model and various things changed in the background. So it was very hard for the team to pivot along with that as the environment changed. This bit of chance to sort of start again and design it ground up to make sure it works for all parties: for the teams, the tournament organisers, for the players, the fans. This has been a chance to sort of rebuild the whole league and really just think about what’s gonna make it work.”
With this fresh start, as the broadcasters say, ESL has made it a point to switch things up in an attempt to make the broadcast more engaging with the viewers in the region.
“From a broadcast point of view, what we’re trying to do at ESL, for a lot of our programs and particularly LCO is [that] we’re really trying to move away what you might have seen in the past with some local esports programs. Which we’ve done in the past as well but which have felt a little bit stiff, a little bit kind of sports broadcast-y,” said Blaikie. “We’re really trying to get back to why people actually watch esports and the sort of people that watch esports. We want to build a really engaging broadcast that is the sort of broadcast that every League of Legends player in Oceania actually wants to watch [and] wants to engage with. We don’t just want to be talking for the camera for four hours each night.”
With such a strong influx of Oceanic players transitioning over to the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in lieu of Riot removing the import restrictions. This has left ESL and Guinevere Capital taking it in a positive stride. As opposed to having the region’s players stuck in the region, they take it as a way for these players to outgrow their local scene, outgrow their region.
“We definitely don’t see it as a detriment to the league. One of the main roadblocks or one of the main barriers to players qualifying — I guess progressing from the local league to the international big leagues not only for League of Legends but for even other esports titles. Is [that] there is no defined pathway that allows them to go in there,” said Senior Project Manager at ESL Australia, Peter Du. “Now that there are no restrictions in that regards — at least for the Oceanic players — there is a more defined pathway for them to the local Oceanic league to something like the LCS and really make it big on the international stage. We definitely see it as a positive, and it’s something that players can work towards and strive towards as opposed to thinking that they’re kind of pigeonholed within their local league with nowhere else to go.”
Starting on Tuesday, February 23, teams will compete for a $30,000 USD prize pool and the only spot at MSI.
Images via Riot Games