Esports Seasons and Split Schedules: How Do They Work?

There’s also been a healthy debate about whether competitive gaming should be recognized as a legitimate sport. In recent years, more countries have been warming up the idea of acknowledging competitive gaming as an actual sport. While there are plenty of arguments for and against placing esports in the same camp as things like baseball and association football, one element they do share is their approach to scheduling formats.

Esports Seasons Explained

Although there’s some variety, most esports tournaments rely on a traditional tournament format. These annual tournaments follow the same principle as conventional sports like basketball, with several divisions allowing teams to move through the ranks through promotion. However, teams who fall short during a season also face the risk of being relegated to a lower division.

During a standard season, esports teams attempt to secure the top spot in whatever league they’re playing in. Take Dota 2 as an example. In Tier 1, you have the likes of The International. This offline-only event brings together the best Dota 2 teams from across the world, while also serving up staggeringly high prize pools. At the other end of the spectrum, you have events like the Global Esports Games. While Tier 4 tournaments like this one are relatively accessible, prize pools are incredibly low. What’s more, there’s little scope for promotion, even for those who come out on top.

What About Splits?

As with regular sports, esports tournament formats usually include splits. Essentially, the playing season is broken down into multiple parts. With most esports, annual tournaments are made up of two different seasons. These fall during spring and summer, with both featuring a double-elimination format.

However, more leagues have started to introduce a third split. Rocket League is one such esport to employ a three-split format. Here, there’s a spring, fall, and winter split. Each one includes several regional events, which culminate in an international tournament. Competing teams acquire points throughout these split stages, with their final scorecards determining whether or not they’ll qualify for a place in the Rocket League World Championship.

League of Legends is another esport that has ditched the two-split approach in favor of a three-split model. As of 2023, the League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC) schedule includes a Winter Split that kicks off in January. However, this new addition has a slightly different format than other splits. The first phase of the LEC Winter Split is a group stage, with 10 teams facing off in a round-robin tournament. The second stage brings in a double-elimination format, while the third stage of the Winter Split is essentially a double-elimination playoff.

Don’t Miss a Single Second of the Action

Thanks to a rise in streaming platforms and online broadcasting, it’s never been easier to follow your favorite esports teams. Platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming have become incredibly popular with the gaming community and esports enthusiasts. These platforms let you connect with your esports heroes, watch S-Tier teams take on their rivals, and more. In 2023, more than 530 million people watch esports events online, with around half of these being regular viewers. Keen to keep your finger on the pulse? Get up-to-the-minute results from The International or discover an updated LoL LCK schedule here.

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