Tonight marks the beginning of the 2016 Summer split in the European LCS - the highest level of League of Legends pro play in the region. And this split will be anything but business as usual, as Riot Games are introducing a major change to the leagues format.
For as long anyone would care to remember, the LCS leagues (both NA and EU) have followed the same format: two match days a week, five games on each match day, every match being a best-of-1 series. That's about to change.
The European LCS league is moving to a best-of-2 series format for each match. Effectively, that will double the time required for each match. Rather than doubling the length of the match days, some of the games will be played concurrently. That means Riot is launching a second broadcast to cover the other games.
In the North American LCS, where the Summer split starts Friday, the changes are even bigger. Matches will now be played as best-of-3 series, and there'll be games on Fridays as well as Saturdays and Sundays, which used to be the traditional match days. As is the case with the EU LCS, there'll be a secondary broadcast to cover half of the games.
Why the different formats, you asked? When Riot announced the format changes at the end of 2015, they explained their reasoning: For one, they wanted to test out different formats to see what would yield the best experience - and given Europe's proclivity for football (as in soccer), a game where ties are common, they opted to try the best-of-2 format in Europe.
If you plan on tuning in to tonight's broadcast, we recommend you go for the Origen v. G2 Esports match in particular. It's a repeat of the Spring split finals, which G2 won, but a lot has happened since then. For instance, Origen have lost their bottom lane duo of AD carry Zven and support player Mithy - widely regarded as one of the strongest duos in the league - to none other than G2 Esports. For Origen, it's a significant loss, while the already dominant G2 look even stronger with them on the roster.
Origen's new bottom lane duo consists of Dutch support player Hybrid, who was part of the G2 roster that won the Spring split, and greek AD Carry Forg1ven. The latter is a controversial figure on the scene, and while no-one can doubt his in-game abilities, he's seemingly left a trail of burnt bridges and bad team relationships behind him.
Also worth noting for tonight's games is that the former Team Elements will be making their debut under their new banner, Schalke 04 - yes, as in the German football club.
The show is scheduled to begin at 17:00 CEST, and you can find links to livestreams on the lolesports.com site at that time.