LoL esports 2025: Changes coming to League of Legends pro esports next year

by Brian Bencomo

On Tuesday, Riot Games announced the most significant changes to League of Legends’ Tier 1 competitive landscape in years. Riot’s rationale for these changes is to enhance the excitement and competitiveness of the top tier of LoL esports as well as create a more sustainable environment. The major changes include changes to several regional leagues including a reduction in the number of Tier 1 teams globally as well as the addition of another split and international event to the Tier 1 calendar. Here’s a breakdown of these changes for 2025

New LoL regional leagues for 2025

The League of Legends esports global pro landscape once had 14 distinct regional leagues in 2018 and a dozen from 2020 to 2022. There has been much regional consolidation since then though.

In 2023, Riot Games tied the Oceanic’s league (LCO) qualification for international events into Southeast Asia’s Pacific Championship Series (PCS), and demoted Turkey’s league (TCL) into Europe’s Tier 2 competitive scene. Plus, the LCL, a league for Russian and Eastern European teams, ceased to exist in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. That left nine regional leagues for 2023 that could qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational and Worlds. In 2024, that shrunk to eight, as Japan’s LJL teams would only be able to qualify for MSI and Worlds through the PCS.

Brazil's best will go up against North America's best in 2025. Photo credit: Riot Games

In 2025, there will be further consolidation into five regional leagues, with North America’s LCS, Latin America’s LLA and Brazil’s CBLoL merging into one Americas league with two conferences. In Asia, Vietnam’s VCS will now combine with Southeast Asia’s PCS, Japan’s LJL and Oceania’s LCO into one one Asia-Pacific (APAC) league. Both of these new regions echo the regional alignments that currently exist for Riot's VALORANT esports landscape.

The five leagues for 2025 and beyond will be:

  • Korea (LCK)
  • China (LPL)
  • Europe, Middle East and North Africa (LEC)
  • Americas
  • Asia-Pacific

How many teams will be in each League of Legends regional league?

Currently, the LCK has 10 teams, the LPL has 17 teams, and the LEC has 10 teams. Those numbers will likely stay the same as Riot didn’t announce any structural changes to those leagues.

Latin America will no longer have its own league. Photo credit: Ingrid Muhlenbrock / Riot Games

In the Americas league, the North conference will include six North American teams, one Latin American team and one guest team which will be determined via a promotion/relegation tournament. Similarly, the South conference will include six Brazilian teams, one Latin American team and one guest team.

North America’s LCS was reduced from 10 to eight teams this year, and another two teams will miss out on the Americas North conference. Meanwhile, only six of Brazil’s 10 CBLoL teams will be a part of the Americas South conference. The six-team LLA will only see two teams be a part of the new alignment, with each team being allocated in a different conference.

Vietnam's best will now face off against teams from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Japan and Oceania to compete internationally. Photo credit: Riot Games

In APAC, the reductions will be even more drastic as only eight of the the 30 teams across the four combined leagues will be part of the new league. For 2025, those eight teams will be determined based on 2024 performance. In future years, Riot said there will be a “hybrid partnership plus promotion/relegation league model” (probably similar to Americas). There will likely be a few partnered teams and a few guest team slots in future iterations of the APAC league.

Three splits, three international events

Starting in 2025, all regions will adopt the LEC’s three-split schedule to accommodate the inclusion of a third international event in the League of Legends calendar. The first split will qualify teams for the new to-be-named international event which will take place in March. The second split will qualify teams for the Mid-Season Invitational which will move from May to July. Following the third split there will be regional championships which will qualify teams for the League of Legends World Championship. Worlds typically takes place in October and ends in early November, but the tournament will likely be pushed back a bit given the other schedule and format changes.

The best teams in the world will get a chance at a third trophy in 2025. Photo credit: Colin young-Wolff / Riot Games

One team from each region will qualify for the first international event for a total of five teams. Two teams per region will qualify for MSI for a total of 10 teams. Three teams from each region will qualify for Worlds for a total of 15. Additionally, the MSI winner will get an automatic spot at Worlds, and the second-best-performing region at MSI will gain an extra spot for their region for a total of 17 Worlds teams.

With two conferences in the Americas, qualification for international events will be a little bit different than in other regions. The top teams in each conference during split 1 will qualify for cross-conference play to determine the one Americas representative at the first international event. Each conference will send one team to MSI. For Worlds, each conference is again guaranteed one team. All three Americas Worlds teams will be determined via a cross-conference regional championship. However, it’s unclear how this will work if each conference is guaranteed one slot at Worlds.

Lead photo credit: Lee Aiksoon / Riot Games

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