Is L.C.S. Actually Dying?

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North America is the birthplace of League of Legends and its competitive scene. Apart from that, the North American League of Legends scene significantly pushed eSports to what it is today in mainstream media. The North American League of Legends Championship Series A.K.A. L.C.S. being the league in this region, it has also helped many of the most famous eSports organizations to rise into their current statuses. 

However, despite its legendary status in pro-League of Legends, L.C.S. has been tumbling downhill towards its demise in recent years. Is L.C.S. coming to an end, and why have its viewerships declined?

A Brief History

Thirteen years ago, in October 2009, League of Legends came on to the world as one of the very first games in the MOBA genre. Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) was the main inspiration for this game, and it was brought to life by the then-small American indie development team called Riot Games. 

The game quickly gained a massive player base in a short period, and people quickly realized that League of Legends is made for competitive environments. Critics well received the game but soon criticized it due to its unbalanced nature. Riot acted quickly and started rolling out our frequent balancing updates every two or three weeks, giving one of the most balanced MOBA experiences at the time.

Third-party organizers carried the first two years of its competitive scene alongside occasional main events hosted by Riot. However, the very first League of Legends World Championship was held at DreamHack in Sweden in June 2011, 2 years after the game’s release. It brought a lot of attention to the League of Legends eSports scene and eSports in general. This “third-party qualifier leagues and official main event” format went on for another year until Riot decided to take control of the qualifier leagues as well by introducing an official league called the L.C.S. in August 2012.

L.C.S. allowed Riot to take control of the competitive League of Legends scene and pay players a salary for their performance. The L.C.S. in N.A. and E.U. also became a regular event hosted twice a year in 2 splits and guaranteed players a consistent income, motivating them to be more competitive. This also helped teams like Team Solo Mid (T.S.M.), Cloud9, and Counter Logic Gaming (C.L.G.) to grow even bigger into more successful organizations. One could even say League of Legends and the N.A. L.C.S. gave birth to these world-famous eSports organizations in a way.

As time went on, Riot introduced more regional leagues to other regions, and the League of Legends eSports scene became unified under Riot alone. A few years later, the League of Legends eSports scene popped off and became the birthplace of League of Legends and the official League of Legends competitive scene, N.A. L.C.S. was thriving as the most entertaining and competitive league out there. It also produced some of the most famous players in the scene, like Doublelift, Bjergsen, Sneaky, and more, and the North American League of Legends scene made a name for itself. 

N.A. was a region that performed well in World Championships and other international events by often making it into playoffs and even finishing in top spots. And when the L.C.S. officially got rebranded as L.C.S., and the E.U. L.C.S. was rebranded as L.E.C., everything looked good, but things did not go exactly as planned. While L.E.C. started performing more and attracting more viewership, the quality of the L.C.S. and its competitiveness began to degrade to a point where it became a collapsing league.

Viewership of L.C.S. has been going down the drain in recent years. Statistics show that there has been a 36.2% decline in L.C.S. viewership over the last year. To put that into a better perspective, the L.E.C. has consistently garnered over a million views over the previous three years. 

Even the grand final of the 2021 summer split only barely gathered 365,000 viewers. And on top of that, N.A. hasn’t had luck in recent international tournaments either. So what exactly went wrong?

Reasons for the Decline of L.C.S.

One of the biggest reasons for this massive decline is the retirement of some of the well-known and loved League players in the region, such as Bjergsen, Sneaky, and Doublelift. Being three of the best content creators/streamers in the scene, they have helped Riot in gathering more viewers to the L.C.S. But since they all have retired, the fans have drifted away from the competitive scene and focused more on other entertaining LoL content other than the L.C.S., resulting in part of the decline.

The lack of homegrown talent is another big reason why N.A. fans are not interested in L.C.S. anymore. Less and lesser new N.A. players are being drafted into the main L.C.S. league as organizations often tend to import these big names in the scene from foreign leagues. Even though some of them have managed to carry some teams, not all acquisitions have worked out. And this also resulted in more viewers losing interest in the league. Surveys also show that the current L.C.S. lacks interesting or likable players for fans to follow or be entertained with.

Apart from that, some other considerable factors affected its decline. Many other regional leagues such as the L.E.C., L.C.K., and L.P.L. produce a lot of additional content apart from gameplay to promote the leagues and keep the fans entertained. However, L.C.S. has been lacking content recently, making it a stale watching experience. Surveys also show that fans have lost interest in L.C.S. as there are no exciting storylines to follow.

For example, in L.C.K., Faker’s comeback is a great storyline that keeps the viewers hooked on its league, while L.E.C. also has some interesting stories to tell with the come-up of several teams, including G2 Esports. However, there is currently none with the L.C.S., apart from the return of the legendary Bjergsen and the absolute mess T.S.M. has become. Sadly, even the legend’s return after his retirement hasn’t had a significant impact on viewership in a positive way.

So, is L.C.S. Dying?

Taking a quick glance at the recent years of L.C.S., viewerships has only kept declining and the eSports teams L.C.S. produce always fall behind on international stages. It has been long since an N.A. team made the latter playoffs of a World Championship or even out of the group stages. 

Just like how the legend, Doublelift, said that the L.C.S. is dying, and considering all the facts, it is safe to assume that L.C.S. is on its way to its demise. It seems like recently, Riot has been making all the wrong decisions in handling the L.C.S.