Riot Games is revamping LoL Esports schedules to make room for its younger sibling, VALORANT.
Two years after holding multiple, full-fledged esports, Riot Games is making it easier for fans of each respective region and game to watch their preferred matches. In their posted article, Riot enumerated the key areas of the fan experience which they intend to improve.
- When watching live games, fans should not frequently be forced to choose between one match in favor of another one. Our schedule should allow you to watch more of the action without making difficult tradeoffs.
- The amount of content we serve up daily should more closely match your appetite. Watching should be fun and exciting, not overwhelming.
- Content should be delivered at times when it’s convenient for fans.
LoL Esports and VALORANT 2023 Schedules
The broadcast schedules for League of Legends Esports and VALORANT Esports for the 2023 season are as follows:
- LCS – Thursday and Friday starting at 12:00 PM PT
- LEC – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday starting at 6:00 PM CET
- CBLoL – Saturday & Sunday starting at 1pm BRT
- LPL – Monday-Friday starting at 5pm CST and Saturday & Sunday starting at 3pm CST
- LCK – New Start Times
- Match 2 on weekdays will shift 30 minutes earlier from 8:00 PM (KST) to 7:30 PM (KST)
- On the weekends, Match 1 will be moved from 5:00 PM (KST) to 3:00PM (KST), and Match 2 will be moved from 8:00 PM (KST) to 5:30 PM (KST)
- VCT Americas – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday starting at 12:00 PM PT
- VCT EMEA – Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday starting at 6:00 PM CET
- VCT Pacific – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday starting at 6:00 PM KST
The region to receive the biggest change is the LEC, which is also changing their season from two splits to three. EMEA LoL Esports will also broadcast seven days a week, where the ERL games will take place on days that the LEC does not. Some of the LEC staff went and shared their own insight about the changes.
“Last month, we revealed our new format for the LEC and some additional key changes coming to the EMEA ecosystem next year, including the introduction of two new ERLs. These changes meant we needed to re-evaluate our broadcast schedule for 2023. So, we worked closely with the Global LoL Esports team to find a solution that provides you, our dedicated fans, with the best viewing experience possible, as often as possible, while not missing out on any of the key moments in our sport,” they said on the update article.
What happens to Professional League of Legends & VALORANT?
After Riot identified the problem, they took input from across all of their internal esports team on how 2023 should look like for pro League and VALORANT games. In addition to the input from their events team which included broadcast, league ops, regional heads, marketing teams, and more, fans across the world were surveyed – a trend they intend to continue moving forward.
After considering the historical performance of Riot events, they landed on the following “learnings,” as well as the revamped schedule for the different leagues.
- 9% of North American League of Legends Esports fans follow VCT Americas, and over half of LCS fans watch the LEC during live matches. Additionally, these LCS fans were 4 times more likely to watch the LEC compared to VCT EMEA. As a reaction to these facts, Riot prioritized minimizing overlaps of matches from the same game to create a more cohesive global experience for their viewers.
- The top priorities for most fans are to watch their favorite team and see the biggest matchups of the week. According to the fan survey, they were just as interested in a big match in their favorite league compared to the games with their favorite team. To make it easier for fans who follow multiple leagues and matches, Riot implemented a scheduling system that allows us to adjust game times in order to optimize viewing times for different regions.
- Riot is also against binge watching, at least during the regular season. The old stacking of games on the weekends encouraged this, so Riot also considered this as a factor for the new schedule. 45% of the surveyed viewers said they felt exhausted after watching a full day of professional League of Legends games. Riot Games wants to reserve binge watching of fans’ favorite esports for “key moments of the year” while having a better pace for the rest of the season.
- Weekdays are an underserved opportunity. Research has shown that the demand for LoL Esports and game content is split evenly between weekdays and weekends. Whether it’s getting ready for a night of playing until we lose (can’t end on a loss…) or watching a favorite stream while studying, viewing esports has become part of a weekday routine for many fans. Big events will still be anchored around weekends, but the viewing behaviors we have seen in the VCT, LCK, and LPL showed that there was an appetite for content on other days as well.
- Picking what to watch can be a chore. Research shows that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day, and deciding what match to watch shouldn’t be one of them. By scheduling the matches right, you only have to choose “to watch”… not “what to watch,” simplifying the process.
LCS Specific Changes
Fans can expect the LCS experience to stay mostly the same. In 2023, both Spring Split and Summer Splits will be Double Round Robins over eight weeks of regular season play, with two three-day Super Weeks each split. Split Playoff formats also remain unchanged from 2022. The winners of Spring Playoffs will represent LCS at the Mid-Season Invitational, and the top three finishers in the LCS Championship go to Worlds.
Despite these big changes, the LCS teams and management have stayed largely silent.
Riot Games Head of Esports for the Americas Region, Raul Fernandez, left a message for viewers of the region’s games. “When the LCS debuted in 2013, the global esports landscape was very different. And over the past decade, as the wider gaming ecosystem has grown around us, we noticed that the viewing habits and daily schedules of our fans evolved as well,” he said. “We learned that LCS viewers consume plenty of content on the weekdays, and in similar amounts to their weekend habits. Additionally, peak viewing times have moved to match the changing lifestyles of our fans. In fact, the modeling clearly shows that by shifting the LCS to Thursday and Friday and removing overlapping broadcasts, the league gains access to more available fans and viewers than if we had stayed on the weekend broadcast schedule.”
It seems that Fernandez and the rest of Riot is looking far ahead for esports in the Americas regions. “To reach the ambitious goals we’ve set for the next 10 years of LCS, we need the space to redefine ourselves with legacy fans and earn resonance with new ones. As always, no change is set in stone, and we’ll continue incorporating fan feedback into our future thinking,” Fernandez said. “But we firmly believe moving LCS to weekday matches gives the league an opportunity to reshape its identity, opening new avenues for the broadcast and associated creative concepts that we’ve started to explore with our players, teams, fans, and partners.”
As the cherry on top for fans, the LCS Arena is getting a “full refresh,” as well as a rename. “Next year, the league will be sharing its space with VCT Americas, so we felt the time was right for a makeover, featuring a stage that transforms to fit the custom layout of each esport. The new interior — now dubbed the Riot Games Arena — will debut on stream during the Global Kickoff Event on January 10-11″